Digital History

The common thread in all of my research is an interest in how information moves through space. Information networks provide many opportunities to manipulate, visualize, and otherwise goof around with data.

I have mostly worked with topic modeling, text mining, mapping, and social network visualization. On this page, I’ll share a few of my digital, digital-adjacent, and quantitative history projects.

Recovering Haitian Revolutionary Print Culture

I am in the early stages of a project to use newspaper reprints to reconstruct an archive of newspapers published in St. Domingue during the Haitian Revolution.

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 4.06.40 PM.png

Mapping eighteenth-century newspapers.

The Age of Revolutions inspired a widespread hunger for news. Demand for news created a growing market for newspapers in North America, Europe, the Caribbean, India, and elsewhere. I have sought to visualize the resulting expansion of newspapers through maps like the one below, which shows when newspapers were founded in the eighteenth-century Caribbean.

Visualizing Information Networks

Who cited whom? Visualizing newspaper citations can tell us a great deal about how information flowed through the revolutionary Atlantic. As one example, the two images below each show a network of citations from Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City (the three darker nodes). The above image shows this network from 1755 through 1779. The second image shows what this network looked like from 1780 through 1804. Both show the information networks emanating from three cities over the course of a 25-year period. But the second is, obviously, much more complex. My book will explain why.

You can find some animated maps of North American newspaper citations here. This work will be discussed in the October 2019 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly.

Mapping Citations

One of the key datasets in my work concerns North American newspapers’ citations to newspapers abroad. The maps below show how these citations changed over the late eighteenth century. Larger node sizes indicate a greater number of citations. Keep in mind that their sizes are not precisely proportional.

(WordPress’s compression makes these images a bit boxy)

output_hZhzRJ
Figure 1: This gif map shows Anglo-American/U.S. newspapers’ foreign citations by city from 1755–1804 in five-year increments.
Gif map 1755–1804.
Figure 2: This gif map map shows foreign citations by city appearing in Anglo-American/United States newspapers from 1755–1779 (in the first image) and 1780–1804 (in the second image).
output_9eHe1R
Figure 3: European detail of Figure 1.
output_ylVHXa
Figure 4: Caribbean Detail of Figure 1.

Eighteenth-century Newspaper mottoes

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.02.38 PM

Check out this page for information on newspaper mottoes in eighteenth-century America. It includes links to pages containing a dataset of these newspaper mottoes, by decade.

This resulted in an essay published in the Journal of the American Revolution.