Use maps to tell a story is a perhaps the most basic and in some ways compelling example of data visualization. This idea shaped the development of the Trinity project back in 2013. I designed this critical making project for students in my urban research class to create maps based on primary sources collected for the final research paper. I intended this to act as digital companion project to the final written paper. I replaced a rough draft with this project with the intention that the digital project would act as a parallel narrative structure based on the primary source. Completing the map required information fluency, critical thinking, knowledge integration, and spatial awareness as they organized the primary sources. I continue to refine the idea of mapping as a tool for historical engagement. You can see the good, bad, and the all too ugly result on this page. It is a learning process for me, but these efforts inform a stronger classroom experience.
Mapping Rosenwald Schools
During Spring 2016 semester undergraduate students in my African-American History Since 1877 course worked with the Fisk University database for Julius Rosenwald Fund. Rosenwald funded countless school across the south and this critical making project allowed us to explore the intersection of African-American and education history in Florida. Each student worked to create a short narrative for about 10 to 15 schools. Part of that work was to identify the location of the schools in the database. In pursuing this goal students were able to learn more about obstacles facing African Americans around education, how Florida's experience could be contextualized in the post-Reconstruction South and some effects of the Rosenwald schools on the black communities in the state. Working with google fusion tables instead of My Maps allowed for us to focus on collecting information. This was no easy task and part of the struggle for the students was uncertainty linked to this kind of historical research. I set parameters for their work, but part of my logic was to pursue a sandbox approach. My goal is to return to the map and refine the archival sources used and enhance the narratives linked to community and locations. This was a community engagement course, so the project learning outcome goals was focused on critical thinking, knowledge integration and civic engagement.
THE FIRST QUESTION
The first question was a project conceived working with a Dr. Claire Jenkins back in 2013. The basic description of the project was simple enough:
Doctor Who is currently one of BBC's biggest exports. The show first aired internationally in New Zealand. Throughout the 1970s Doctor Who built a fan-base in the United States and Australia and has since extended to a wider international audience; it is currently screened in fifty countries. The project explores how Doctor Who is understood to its audience. Please complete the survey questions based on your perceptions of Doctor Who. Project Researchers: Julian C. Chambliss, Rollins College (US) and Claire Jenkins, University of Leicester (UK)
The Survey continues to live online here: http://bit.ly/2s8JEL3
I have yet to make use of the data I collected, in part because of the mistake I made in creating the questionnaire. However, taking a cue from some colleague, I'm bracing the failure and showing some of the experimentation I attempted with data from the survey that was more useable. Location information was basic data point and I mapped a question from the survey. I file this under "in-progress" and keep plugging away.
A Black Social World
The idea of a Black Social World in Central Florida grows from the spatial relations that are evident when you examine the black communities that developed after Reconstruction in the South. In particular, I've been intrigued by the close connection between black communities connected to Booker T. Washington. I used the Negro Year Book from 1916 to map some of the black communities they documented. The Washington approach to separation and cooperation in the early 20th century is firmly rejected in contemporary historiography. What my examination of Hannibal Square and Eatonville make clear to me is that the idea of black agency in the context of black property owners choosing paths of separation and cooperation are important to take into account. On the one hand, Hannibal Square represents African American and white political partnership. The alignment of interest along economic and political lines shaped 1880 and 1890s Hannibal Square. However, the ultimate decline of that cooperation in the face of anti-black violence and political disenfranchisement stands in sharp contrast to Eatonville. As a municipality controlled by blacks, Eatonville could remain autonomous in the face of white racism. While elements of white paternalism and racism exist in the history of both communities, the outcome seems must be understood in the context of black people aware of their surrounding and making pragmatic decisions to strive and survive.