Alabama Heritage Magazine

I am happy to announce that I had recently had a piece published in Alabama Heritage Magazine! The piece, “Cartes de Visite in the American South,” describes Likenesses Within the Reach of All and explores some of the Alabama photographers whose work appears in the project. It’s my first piece to appear in print (I’ve usually written pieces that appear online) so I’m very excited. If you or your institution has a copy, be sure to take a look at the Summer 2015 issue!

Director of Research and Academic Programs, A.S. Williams III Americana Collection

I’m excited to announce that beginning June 1, I will be come the Director of Research and Academic Programs in the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection at The University of Alabama. I’ve worked in the Williams Collection since I arrived at UA and the position is everything I could hope for. I’ll be promoting the Williams Collection on a campus, a regional, and a national level, guiding digitization strategies to broaden the reach of the Collection, and creating projects and exhibitions that will showcase what the Collection has to offer.

If you were to ask me a year ago if I would be starting a tenure-track job in a fantastic archive only ten months after handing in my dissertation, I would have told you no. The new position is an amazing opportunity in an ideal spot and I could not be happier.

Spring in Alabama

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I’ve been busy! Since my last update, I’ve been hard at work in the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection at The University of Alabama. Right now, I am finishing up a project involving early twentieth-century Alabama postcards. The collection looks at how Alabama presented itself in the New South and how postcards captured the social, cultural, and economic development of the era. The project will eventually be part of a book which should be released later this year. In addition, I wrote a short piece on the cartes-de-visite in the Williams Collection that will appear in Alabama Heritage magazine this summer.

In mid-March, I presented on Likenesses Within the Reach of All at the Alabama Digital Humanities Center and explained how the process came about and the tools that I used to bring it all together. A few weeks later, I headed to South Bend, Indiana to present at the American Catholic Historical Association’s Spring Meeting. My talk explored the Ursuline convent burning of 1834, which, for those of you who know me, is a topic I’ve explored quite a bit in the past. It was well received and has encouraged me to finally brush up the article version for publication.

Today and tomorrow, I’ll be giving talks at Digitorium, ADHC’s inaugural digital humanities conference. Today will be a workshop on Google Fusion Tables and OpenRefine, while tomorrow will be a more formal panel on The Battle of Atlanta project I worked on at Emory University. These talks will help get me in the groove for my final talk this month, which will be a library-wide presentation on Likenesses.

New Play the Past Article: Valiant Hearts, The Great War, and The Shaping of Historical Memory

I have a new piece up on Play the Past concerning Valiant Hearts, a narrative-driven puzzle game about World War I. I’ve been exploring the use of historical settings and events in video games over the last few years and this piece continues that trend. I look at how Valiant Hearts focuses on the human cost of war and the individual experience. You can find it here.

Likenesses Within the Reach of All

I’m happy to announce that the project I’ve been working on for the last three months has finally launched! Likenesses Within the Reach of All is a digital project that maps the expansion of southern photography through the cartes-de-visite of The A.S. Williams III Americana Collection at The University of Alabama. Building on the work Christa Vogelius completed during her time as the CLIR Fellow at UA, I’ve worked to map the data and provide access to the photographs for researchers and archivists. Many others provided assistance and feedback on the project and you can find them on our About page.

Likenesses Within the Reach of All

A Beginner’s Guide to Mapping Early America with Basic GIS

The Junto

QGISOver the past couple years, friends have asked me a lot about maps and mapping software—questions I probably have no business fielding. I’m not truly formally trained in GIS, I’ve picked up a lot of things online, from books, in workshops, but mostly through trial-and-error, and half the time I still prefer to draw my maps by hand. (Yes, I like to draw.) It’s sort of like the four-eyed leading the blind.

There’s a reason, though, that my friends have few other places to turn. Workshops at universities, as well as many guides online, are still largely geared towards those working on more contemporary history, and to those looking to manipulate census and other large data sets. For those of us working on colonial America—especially those working on frontiers, borderlands, and native grounds—our materials rarely support this kind of work.

As I thought about my post the last couple…

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Interview with Cool @ Hoole

Just a quick post as an update on my new position. I’m a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alabama. I started in August and have been settling into my work as a sort of digital project specialist with the A.S. Williams III Collection. As a new member of UA’s Special Collections, Amy Chen interviewed me for the blog. You can find the interview here on Cool @ Hoole.

Historical Maps into Minecraft: My Workflow

I’ve been following Shawn’s work on this for the last couple of weeks on Twitter so I’m very excited he’s posted his workflow. Will have to try it out down the line.

The folks at the New York Public Library have a workflow and python script for translating historical maps into Minecraft. It’s a three-step (quite big steps) process. First, they generate a DEM (digital elevation model) from the historical map, using QGIS. This is saved as ‘elevation.tiff’. Then, using Inkscape, they trace over the features from the historical map that they want to translate into Minecraft. Different colours equal different kinds of blocks. This is saved as ‘features.tiff’. Then, using a custom python script, the two layers are combined to create a minecraft map, which can either be in ‘creative’ mode or ‘survival’ mode.

There are a number of unspoken steps in that workflow, including a number of dependencies for the python script that have to be installed first. Similarly, QGIS and its plugins also have a steep (sometimes hidden) learning curve. As does Inkscape. And Imagemagick…

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