The End… But not really

Well ta-da! It’s done. Infirmary: An Untold Story is finally, finally, finally, done. After a few personal set backs I have had the opportunity to finish the project. Boy have I learned a lot. First and foremost, website coding is hard when you have limited knowledge, but worth it when those a-ha moments hit and you realize just how to get some of the things you were trying to do to work. I really got excited when I figured out how to link the blog to it without just putting the website! I’m finally getting the hang of the technology aspect of the project and now it’s over. I also learned that projects as interesting as they are and as much as you just want to keep researching forever you must eventually stop. This was particularly hard for me as I was working on my thesis simultaneously so I would find new information that I would want to include while I needed to be coding and wrapping things up. I suppose this is the curse of the researcher though. Anyways, I am thankful for the chance to learn more about digital history and I am sure that I will carry the lessons I learned with me and to future endeavors. Well here is the link to my website and enjoy!


Videos and Coding

Well the semester is quickly coming to a close and my project is too. I have coding and more coding to do and then it will be done. However, it certainly seems like time flies quickly. I have learned a lot since my last blog post. I learned how to georeference maps. In this case, it was Sanborn maps. Also, I have always set a lot of store in the accuracy of Sanborn maps, but I learned that the Sanborn maps are not infallible. Someone was off in some their scaling and therefore one of my maps just would not georeference correctly, but alas this was a good lesson about the level of trust to put in maps. It also showed that the digital methods we have been using are not just useful for analyzing the primary sources, but in some cases can be used to evaluate the reliability of sources. I’ve included the video that I used the maps to create of the changes to the infirmary building complex. There will be text to read before one sees the video explaining the changes that they will see in the video. I contemplated putting text into the video, but personally I would rather just look at the maps and see the differences and then reference back to the text. I had to white out buildings on the map as I went back in time to show that they were not there after 1908 as that was the earliest Sanborn/technical map that I had found. Anyways, I’ve been rambling about the cool video so here it is:  And wait a problem… Mac does not save videos in a way that allows me to have a correct type of file for word press… Well I suppose here is the powerpoint instead.Building evolution

Just some quick context to what you just saw. The map starts with the 1925 Sanborn map of the Infirmary and that map holds true even today, with a few exceptions of buildings that were demolished over the last few years. The Sanborn maps are georeferenced over a modern aerial. After 1908 there are no more Sanborn maps for the infirmary, so I had to just white out the buildings that would not have been there. However, this does not account for the chance that there were buildings there that are not there in 1908 and that will be explained as well.

Besides making that video and the maps associated with it I have been working on my template and trying to figure out how to get it up on fetch and trying to learn about coding. The moral of the story is technology and I just do not understand each other and probably never will. I’m just hoping we can see eye to eye and it will pretend to cooperate for a little while. Coding I think is the hardest part of the project along with trying to put stuff up on the Iweb as well. I thought I had a good grip on it at one point and then realized no I really didn’t.

Another important thing I learned was, it is important to be ambitious, but do make sure that at some point you have a reality check and realize that you cannot do everything. That reality check came for me and I have scaled back a wee

I’m looking forward to being done with the project, but since this is my thesis it is not the last that I will see of it. Besides, I would like to add to the project and give the information to the museum that it is about.

Visuals and Websites

My project is starting to come along. I’ve spent some time looking at website layout and have it narrowed down to two or three layout. I am looking forward to a presentation in class today about mapping census data. I think that it will give me really good insight into mapping my applications for relief. I have held off making a concrete plan for mapping the applications for relief because I knew Colin Rose was coming to talk about his project mapping census data. I have some of my visual data coming along nicely. I have graphed several populations to see who was at the infirmary when as well.

I have word clouds that are based on legislation language. I also have started putting together Newspaper articles to show that the public’s primary concern with the infirmary was who was in charge of the infirmary and how much it was costing the public in tax money. Almost all, with a few exceptions, of the newspaper articles in “The Perrysburg Journal” were about who was running for election to infirmary director and how much the infirmary was spending. I also have made word clouds of other important concepts such as reason for being at the infirmary and occupation before. I also have looked at the rhetoric of institutionalization at an infirmary and have a few basic visuals to accompany that as well.

I hope to have the website layout up and running by the end of Thanksgiving as well as having some of the text and images up and running as well. All free time during the week of Thanksgiving is going to be dedicated to getting the website up and running and getting a good chunk of the project done and completed, past what is done now.

As per before I am still struggling with trying to narrow my focus on the project. I think the best way is to just tackle each topic one at a time and see how much time I have in the end to add addition information and topics. I have it narrowed down, but of course as you start to design visuals new ideas keep popping up and saying oh hey over here look at me. I have to remind myself that while the new ideas are exciting they are not the focus of my project.

Blog Post 3 Pecha Kucha

The Pecha Kucha was helpful in creating a succinct way of discussing my topic. To be honest I was panicking trying to write it because I have never written a Pecha Kucha. At first, I was concerned 20 seconds would not be enough time per slide to discuss what I wanted to discuss as I could talk about my topic for hours. Then when I timed it out I was concerned that I did not have enough information about each slide and would just be sitting there for periods of time. I think that timed presentations, with time per slide, is incredibly hard for me instead of saying I have 6 minutes total. It was also rather difficult to decide what pictures to include and what information to include. I also was not exactly sure on what to include, information on the infirmity, my findings, or my plan for the project.

I think that the Pecha Kucha helped me in focusing. It seems as though the others are in the same boat as I am in that we need to make our projects smaller and more manageable. I also think that trying to help others with their project and thinking critically about their project helped me to think critically about my own project and apply some of the advice that I gave to others to my own project. Also applying some of the advice that I have received. The primary piece of advice that I have been working on is trying to narrow the project down and make it manageable. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to make a list of things that I would like to investigate in order of importance and start with what I have already done/have started and then work my way through the list being reasonable with how much I think I can get done. That is the hardest part for me I think. Trying to limit the project because I only have so much time.

This by the end of next week I want to have created the majority of my graphics. And then the rest of the time can be spent putting the website together as that is the hardest part for me I think. This has been quite the learning experience already and I am sure that the farther I go in the project the more I will learn. Attached is the Pecha Kucha that I put together for class.Pecha Kucha

Microfilm, Microfilm, Microfilm

For this project, my main focus lately has been working on digitizing records about the Wood County Infirmary from PDF’s. This is a rather time consuming task as each roll of microfilm takes around 8 hours of work to PDF. I’ve been picking and choosing from the 24 rolls of microfilm the ones with documents pertaining to my period of study. Therefore that has been the vast majority of my time spent on the project since I last checked in. In addition to the microfilm, I also have been working on getting newspaper articles about the infirmary from the opening of it (1869) to 1900.

The last couple weeks have helped me to narrow in my focus on the project. I feel as though originally the scope of my project was much to large to feasibly be completed in one semester’s time. Instead of focusing on everything to do with the infirmary that occurred during the over 100 years the infirmary was open, I am focusing on the beginning period of operation 1869-1900.

The GIS seminar was also very helpful to me. It gave me a few ideas as to how I want to go about putting my project into spatial context. I still want to map people and where they came from, but I also had a new idea. Instead of just mapping geographic space and people, I want to map use of space. The infirmary had many buildings and parts of buildings that were used for a variety of purposes. I want to map conceptual space. Female verse male space (gendered space). Also agricultural verse domestic space. Another aspect I hope to look at is employee space verse resident space. The superintendent and matron lived at the infirmary and employees did as well. Therefore they had their own space and utilized it for their own purposes. I’m curious how they maintained the divide between personal/private and work space while living at work.

One obstacle that I have found (and think will be the largest obstacle) is technology. I do not have any experience with website design or anything similar to it. I also have been just trying to experiment with the different digital tools to see what ones I like and what ones I think may be useful for my project. I feel as though there is a learning curve for me to get past for most of the tools. Although I do have a little GIS experience.

So far this has been quite the learning adventure. It has had familiar aspects as well as not so familiar ones. The future endeavors are to start making the maps and graphs, additional text analysis, and finishing up the microfilm pdfing.

An Introduction to the Project

For the previously mentioned digital history course project, I am working on creating both a digital component to my thesis and a stand-alone project discussing the Wood County Infirmary. An infirmary is a county run institution for those that could not care for themselves for various reasons. The project focuses on the residents living at the infirmary, trends in population, why residents ended up at the infirmary, and infirmaries themselves. Thus far, data has been gathered on the infirmary residents from their applications for relief. Applications for relief were how county residents applied for aid when it was needed. The applications have information such as name, aid received, race, age, sex, township of residence, birthplace, and notes about their stay at the infirmary, if admitted. To better understand the project, it is important to understand how the infirmary aid worked. To receive aid, an individual went to their township trustee and explained they needed aid. The trustee then filled out and sent an application for relief to the Infirmary Board of Directors. They would send the superintendent of the infirmary out to investigate the case to determine if the individuals were to receive aid or not. The applicant was then either given outdoor relief (money for medicine, food, clothing, or fuel paid directly to the store, doctor etc), indoor relief (taken to the infirmary for care), or no aid. My project focuses on the individuals that received indoor relief. To receive aid, an individual/family had to have lived in Wood County for 12 consecutive months self-sufficiently. Meaning, they did not receive aid from another source. After the 12 months, they were considered a legal resident of the county.

Currently, I am working on a timeline of the infirmary history, county history, state, and national history in regards to events that would impact the infirmary and thus the residents. This will help put trends in residents into perspective I believe. Future endeavors include using ArcGIS to map residents’ birthplace and township of residence, graphs and charts of resident demographics, and word clouds/text analysis of legislation verse applications for relief rhetoric.

Just a note to touch on my feelings about the project:

I am rather excited about this project, as it is a topic I have been interested in for many years. The infirmary I am looking at is currently a museum and that what sparked my interest in remembering infirmaries, even though they are often forgotten. I am a bit apprehensive as this is my first foray into the digital history realm and I do not know quite what to expect. Technology can be fickle at times and we do not always see eye to eye. I hope to learn a lot about the tools that can be used to do digital research and create such a digital project. However, the technology aspect of the project does seem to be the most intimidating aspect for me.

More to be written soon as the project progresses.