The Civil War Sound group had a few tasks this week. One was to finally finish putting together the sound corpus into a single column list as well as the many derivations of each word already on the list. We need to finish this part of project as soon as possible because it is crucial to another part of the project, using text scraping to mine American Civil War Letters and Diaries database. Which leads to another task, finishing up and test running out scripts. We need to see what the script will give us and how we are going to have to clean the results. Outreach has been fruitful and we have set up several meetings with experts in Civil War history and mapping to guide our work.
This was a busy week for the group. We explored what type of map we wanted to use for the project and how we would get it. The group considered more carefully the connection between 19th century language and locating place and time at the Battle of Gettysburg. We crafted a letter to the moderators and archivist of the database we are using to make it easier for us to navigate and organize the search results. Myrna, as the outreach coordinator has reached out to the Brooklyn Historical Society, Professor Ari Kelman of Battle Lines, and an expert with ArcGIS. She also looked into getting in touch with historians at Fort Wardsworth. Anastasiya began to seek out larger connections to other DH projects dealing with sound and listening. Other tasks included to continue to work on and complete the sound corpus for use in scraping the database and smoothing out larger outreach efforts, including building a website, clearing up issues with twitter and Github.
This week, the group made several important strides achieving fairly solid progress. While much work remains, this week has been a good one in terms of important facets of the project. Initial explorations of ARCGIS demonstrated how it was possible to create dynamic and effective maps of Civil War battles. Of crucial importance was finally getting the python script just right. Anastasiya worked with several of the CUNY GC Digital Fellows to craft the script which could scrape the the American Civil War Letters and Diaries database for the the sound corpus (which we are still expanding) and for concordance, the words around the keyword. On the social media and outreach front, Myrna learned how to optimize the groups twitter reach using hashtags and setting up an organization on GIthub. She also set up meeting with experts, Digital fellows, and going to pertinent conferences to learn and network. The project manager worked on optimizing and maximizing the results that script can scrape and organize.
The most important task that I had to work on this week was to learn how to write scripts for text scraping the archive we are using for the project. This hasn’t been as intimidating as I thought it would be and this has been helped by working with the tutorials from The Programming Historian website. Working with the archive has also helped to generate words for the Sound Corpus and focus my script learning efforts based on the American Civil War Letters and Diaries archive. I began to put together the presentation for our update; in it we will present the abstract, concept, work plan, and sample data we have gathered as well as the Sound Word corpus.
The group’s focus this week was threefold. We had finished, for the most part, putting together our sound word corpus. With that done, all members of the group began to learn how to use text scraping scripts to help streamline gathering the data and ensure that it is “clean” and accessible as possible. The second facet of the group’s effort centered on outreach and establishing a public presence; one group member set up a Git Hub and Twitter account for the group. She also began to explore which web platforms would best serve to present our work and share it. Third, the group continued to study and research the battle itself through reading accounts of the battle, from both secondary and primary sources.
Finally, the group began to put together the project update presentation, creating and including a work plan, basic test data, and a concept for the project.
Civil War Sound Group
The group focused on searching out aides for creating and curating our project’s dataset. My part in this task was two-fold. One was to seek out a “corpus” of sound words which would help flesh out our keyword searches in the American Civil War: Letters and Diaries database. So far, no luck finding previously established bodies of words. This led us to trying to find tools to help us build a sound corpus for our use and the use of other possible projects in the future. What I found were online dictionaries and thesauruses as well as searching through the sources themselves to look for the words that people in the 19th century used. My second task was to learn how to leverage the database to get us the most precise results possible and cut down on the work we need to do to generate our dataset.
This week our group had two major tasks centered on creating and curating our dataset. The first was to search out a body of words related to sound which would help us broaden and define the keywords we will use to draw out the sources for the sound events on the first day at the battle. Thus far we have not found a previously created work. This means that we have find tools to create this word list. The whole group worked, and is continuing to work on this particular task. The second task was to learn text scrapping to help to automate the data gathering process and thus save time while working with the data. We had one member begin the process of learning it because she will be responsible for that portion of working with the dataset. We also began to discuss a timeline for the work plan, one which would fit the timeline for the semester
Civil War Sound Project Group
After spending sometime with the primary sources and after a few weeks devoted in class to using maps in DH projects, I would like to propose a project similar to the Interactive Map of the Battle of Gettysburg by a team led by Anne Kelly Knowles. Instead of emphasizing sight lines, I would like to focus in on sound.
One of the more fascinating tidbits of Civil War history is how sound played a role on the battlefield and surrounding region. Commanders and troops used sound to clue themselves in orders or where the enemy was because the weapons of the time literally created a fog of war obscuring clear sight lines. There is a scientific phenomenon known as acoustic shadowing; some troops marching into battle sometime did not hear the cacophony of fighting until they got extremely close or just over a hill. At the same time, towns or villages dozens of miles away heard the battle as if it was close by.
As a historian, I study the US Civil War quite closely. One of the recurring themes I’ve noticed while reading primary source accounts is the role that sound plays in describing the war. While soldiers, observers, civilians, etc. all describe what they see regularly, I notice that sound is incredibly important to these writers and often most poetically described.
I would like to use electronic databases which catalog diaries and newspapers from the Civil War era as my data set to get at sound’s importance to the experience of the war. I will use The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries, Illustrated Civil War Newspapers and Magazines, and the Nineteenth Century Masterfile.