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.

Baltimore and the Tradition of American Rioting

That Devil History

The militarization of city police forces is a spark that's leghting up neighborhoods primed for explosition by decades of beneath-the-surface social unrest. The militarization of city police forces like those in Baltimore is a spark that’s lighting up neighborhoods primed for explosion by decades of beneath-the-surface social unrest.

Another day in America, another racially charged urban riot sparked by the suspicious death of a black person at the hands of the police.

This time, it’s happening in Baltimore, where there continues to be a glaring lack of information regarding the death of a Freddie Gray. Police arrested Gray on April 12 — for no reason other than the fact that Gray apparently ran — and by April 19, Gray died from “spinal injuries.” If that seems bizarre, that’s because it is. According to witness Kevin Moore, who recorded Gray’s arrest, the cops had Gray “folded up like he was a crab, or like a piece of origami.” Go ahead and view the video at the link, it’s not easy to watch, unless…

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Spring in Alabama

IMG_3095

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.