Voyant Knows All…

I recently copied the introduction of Burlesque: A Living History by Jane Briggman. Voyant spit out these interesting graphics.


Voyant shows the user the most common words in the corpus (body of words), as well as a word cloud, and a line graph showing the frequency of the word selected in the top middle section. These tools could come in handy when writing papers in order to know how often certain words are used. It’s also fun to see parts of your favorite texts in a new way.


Digital Genres

Hello all! This week I’m reviewing four history websites: The Valley of the Shadow, the Yiddish Book Center, Gulag: Many Days Many Lives, and History Wired. Gulag: Many Days Many Lives and History Wired fall into the category of exhibit websites, the Yiddish Book Center is a teaching resource, and The Valley of the Shadow is an archive.




The Valley of the Shadow is an archive focusing on two communities–one Northern, one Southern–before, during, and immediately after the American Civil War. The information is split into three main categories: before, during, and after the Civil War with subcategories offering different types of resources. For example, you can find newspapers from both communities from before, during, and after the Civil War depending which of the main categories you picked. In order to access the newspaper you want, you would have to pick from one of the main categories, pick a PDF or transcription of a particular newspaper from one of the communities, and then pick which date you would like to see.

This may seem like a lot of clicking, but it makes it much easier to focus on a particular subject. The PDFs might make good images for a presentation, but are virtually illegible, both due to the size of the print (an entire newspaper page is one PDF) and the quality of some scans. The scans of the letters and diaries are of a much better quality, but it is still easier to read the transcriptions. There is a wide range of primary sources available in order to give as close as possible a complete picture of what life was like in the communities before, during, and after the Civil War.


The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit teaching resource for those who wish to know about Jewish heritage, language, culture, and modern identity. They offer literature in both Yiddish and English, a magazine, and various learning programs. The site is beautiful and well made with an adorable mascot, the klor vays tsigele (small white goat).

There are learning programs provided for high school students, college students, college graduates, teachers, and other adults. There are even programs for aspiring translators! The Yiddish Book Center has a wide variety of valuable resources, including a digital library in English and Yiddish.



And lastly, Gulag: Many Day Many Lives and History Wired are exhibits. Gulag focuses on the lives and experiences of people in the Soviet labor camps known as gulags from 1917 to 1988. The exhibits has sections about arrests, labor, suffering, propaganda, conflict, solidarity, guards, survival, the prisoners, and their ultimate fates. The information is presented in an easy to understand and is aesthetically pleasing. However, not everything works. It appears that there should be a video, but if so, it will not play.

History Wired is an exhibit that is no longer active. It was launched in 2001 and was retired this August. History Wired featured 450 objects at various levels of fame. The point of the site was to let the public examine objects from a museum’s holdings that was not necessarily being shown at the time in the museum itself. In some ways, it was also an archive of digital objects. But you could tell that it was from the early 2000s. Still, it is sad to see it go.



History Wired

Gulag: Many Days Many Lives

The Yiddish Book Center

The Valley of the Shadow

Fashion Pictures and Camscanner

Hello again! I wanted to give you guys some more examples of what Camscanner can do and some of the pitfalls. 

This is Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century from he collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. It’s a great resource for pictures of outfits throughout the ages and information about those outfits and why they were significant for the time. Even if you’re not a history buff, this book is a great reference for designing costumes for period productions. 

Here are some pictures taken at random in my room. As you can see, some of the pictures still have the edges of the book in them as the pages get closer to the binding. That’s one issue with Camscanner: if your source is curved there’s amount of stretching Camscanner can do. You may also notice some shadows. If you’re going to use Camscanner, you need excellent lighting. I’ve used the lightening feature on some of these photos and they’re still not as bright as I’d like them to be. 

Here are two more photos that include text. Again, the curves of the source and the shadows are a problem. If you wanted notes on the actual text of this particular book, you should use a different tool. Another issue you might notice with all of these pictures is their relative graininess. Sadly, when it comes to research, pictures taken from a phone or an iPad (as these were) are not always up to snuff. For notes they’re usually fine, but f you want to use the pictures in a presentation or an official document it would most likely be better off with a flatbed scanner or a better quality camera. 
If you want other sources on fashion history, The History of Modern Fashion:  From 1850 by Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl, Fashion and the Art of Pochoir: The Golden Age of Illustration in Paris by April Calahan and Cassidy Zachary, and Fashion Plates: 150 Years of Style by April Calahan, Karen Trivette Cannell, and Anna Sui all have great reviews.

MyHistro and Camscanner

Hello! I have found this cool site on DiRT called MyHistro. You create a free account and make timeline presentation. This comes in handy if you are trying to showcase change over a period of time. Your timeline can feature places on a map as well as pictures of the event you are depicting. You can “play” your timeline to go through your events and the map will move to show each new event. If you are lacking inspiration, MyHistro has popular timelines that you can watch and comment on. 
MyHistro also has 3D battles for you to explore and create. This way people can have a much easier time of visualizing battles and other complex events. Both of these features allow you to spice up your presentation and make your content easier for your audience to understand. The maps and pictures also give your audience something to look at that is not text and that moves. 

Another handy little app is Camscanner. Camscanner allows you to take pictures of 2D objects and stretches that picture out until it fills the whole screen and is more legible. You can alter the brightness and have the app scan the picture for text so that you can search for it later. The picture can be turned into a PDF and emailed. Camscanner makes creating PDFs a snap which is very handy if you are collecting sources in an archive or a library. This way you can take high quality photos of sources and have them at your disposal later on. C

Apart from being sources of information, the high quality pictures you take with Camscanner can serve as beautiful and interesting images or examples  for a presentation. 

MyHistro and Camscanner are both wonderful examples of digital that can make the life of a historic researcher much easier and more effiecent.