The Stability of Historical Archives

After exploring the digital archives of September 11th and April 16th, two dates that shifted America’s stances on terrorism, fear, gun control, and security, I found the concept of storing this information to be crucial for historical and personal purposes.

Many of us remember these days to be chaotic and somber, many of us had family and friends who were directly affected by these very tragic and life changing events, and I feel that presenting these facts in an archive that is accessible to all, is very important to the history of our country as well as the history of our families and friends.

With technology being so present over the past decade, it only makes sense that scholars, authors, photographers, journalists  and historians felt it necessary to preserve these events in a way that all of the information is present and can be accessed at any given time.

I went through the Library of Congress’ Digital Preservation guidelines, directions, and facts, and I thought about what events in my life, if given the chance, I would digitally archive. When one thinks about their families history and origins, many of us never really stop to think about what we would pause or want to reflect on fifty years from now.

I would probably start with the migration of my mom’s family to the United States from Italy. My family’s roots run very deep in Italian culture and costumes and I would like to explore more about my great-grandmother’s journey and what her life was like before she left for the United States.

There are so many things that I would like digitally archived but it all comes down to how much we are willing to share and make public. I think technology has changed that for many because within the Internet and online databases, almost all things are now public.


Ngram Throughout the Years

I worked with the Ngram tool this weekend to see how it worked, but after our discussion on Monday, I understand more how this data is construed. I found the word ‘religion’ to be particularly interesting when it was matched with the word ‘science’ because of the change from a very spiritual and theological society to the age of science and the revolution that proceeded it. Because the shift happened over time, and with that shift many felt that their beliefs were being challenged by philosophers, I wanted to see the spikes in which these words were mentioned in literature and if it coincided with the majority of beliefs during a specific time period.

From 1800 to the early 1900’s religion was mentioned a significant amount of times peaking at about 1828. When I clicked on the on the actual books that were written during that period, most centered around Christianity, which is no surprise. Then, when I capitalized the “R” is religion, the the peak was at about 1810, and was steady throughout the next two hundred years.







I then searched the word “science” and “Science” to see the difference in mentions. “Science” spiked after the 1930’s where as “science” was consistently mentioned throughout the whole graph.







I never really thought about the difference of structure of words or how meanings have changed to this degree before this project. I think it is beneficial to be more aware of how words are used in certain publications and historical databases. I think this will help me a lot during my project because I am researching historical documents, pictures, graphs, etc. dealing with fashion, I will have to pay more attention to the old context surrounding the word compared to the present use and the words that accompany it.

Digital Collections and Corpus

I had viewed Time’s Magazine Corpus for another exercise previously this semester. I find the search engine to be somewhat fascinating but somewhat dry. The information available is useful and interesting, though, the format of the website could use some creativity..

So I then proceeded to explore Google’s Ngram Viewer which graphs key words or names in books from the 1800’s on, and where these spats of information can be found in texts. If you click on a particular name, such as Coco Chanel, then the link directs you to the books that feature that name is some way, like a biography or a fashion related novel.

Thinking about the abundance of information available on the web is somewhat overwhelming and also a little dizzying. I find these search engines to be useful, though, the amount of time trying to navigate the information you need can ultimately end up to be frustrating.

After exploring these engines I read “From Babel to Knowledge” which I found more interesting because it not only explained how digital information is gathered and used, but it also explained how it is compiled behind the scenes. Academia strives to make sense of all of the information available, that the use of API’s only enhances those using the engines experience.

I found the syllabus finder to be very useful considering the time spent on focusing on key concepts throughout a class.

With the abundance of information on the web it is time to condense these search technique to make it easier to navigate information and get detailed summaries of what we are trying to find on the web.

Fashion’s Finest Moments in History

When we think of history, many of us do not associate war, trade and longevity with fashion. Though, for someone who follows and admires the industry, like myself, I have found that many of our historical and economical ties revolve somewhat around fashion.

Suede, velvet, and cotton all have historical backgrounds whether it was Marie Antoinette’s excessive dresses or the cotton trade, or the Industrial Revolution and what it meant for production of fashion houses and the boom of department stores.

I decided to do my small powerpoint project on the history of the British fashion label, Burberry. The iconic trench was first worn by soliders in the British army, then made famous by actors and actresses such as Audrey Hepburn, and in 2012, it is still one of the most coveted items by the wealthy and fashion forward.

Here is a glimpse of how this one piece has transitioned through history and continues to sustain popularity, after over 150 years in the public eye.

Historical Chart

I decided to make a chart using the information of two individuals from “Probing the Past.” Their records were ten years apart, one man and one woman. I wanted to measure the differences in their Will’s ranging from costs of furniture to clothing, coffee and food items.

Unfortunately, I still had trouble with making the chart and adding the information to the axises. When I tried to add data to the X axis about the products given away to their families, something was not right.

I think I made this more complicated than need be..



 Montgomerie, Thomas(1793) vs. Ball, Margaret(1783)

PowerPoint Flaws

After reading “PowerPoint is Evil,” by Edward Tufte, and exploring the “Gettysburg PowerPoint,” I would have to agree with many if not all of Tufte’s statements.

I have never been a fan of PowerPoint because I find it distracting, boring and simple. I am not an overly creative person, though, I would rather stand in front of an audience and give a rant than read straight off a screen in bullet format. I find PowerPoints to be for those who  do not like to communicate face to face with audiences. I am no stranger to having nerves when it comes to presentations or speaking about subjects I am not confident in, though, I find PowerPoints to be tedious because no one is actually listening to what you have to say.

The simplicity, the basic coloring, and the pie charts that often accompany PowerPoints are what make them truly unbearable. I am not sure how many times in my academic career I have found myself staring at the same sentence over and over trying to absorb the content that is being presented-when in fact I am totally lost or bored.

I am a firm believer in reading and discussion because I find that people learn more when they are presented with not only numbers or figures, or in the case of PowerPoints, condensed information to make it “easier” to grasp the subject being presented.

I understand the business technique behind PowerPoints. They are short, fast, leave little room for educated discussions, and help people get to their points faster. I am not being totally hypocritical, because I have used my share of power points throughout high school and college, but sometimes I miss the homemade poster board or debate technique that accompanied many of my courses throughout the years.

As far as historical data is concerned, I understand why historians would use PowerPoint to generate discussions or have ground facts present during presentations or projects, but overall I would rather have an interactive discussion about the data than just be present and hope the information is retained in my memory.