Digitization and 19th Century Newspapers, continued thoughts.

So in thinking more about how I might go about using some kind of spatial mapping to demonstrate the relative importance of the self-enslavement laws in comparison with the re-opening of the African slave trade, the admission of Kansas as a free state, I’ve come across some really great stuff from other people who have thought (and acted) much more deeply on these issues than I have.

In a joint venture between Stanford University and University of North Texas, Mapping Texts assesses patterns for hundreds of thousands of pages of Texas newspapers, from 1829 to 2008. I haven’t found a way to do very much with it just yet, but it’s something I’m going to look into, to see if there is a way I can get “under the hood” so to speak. One interesting thing I noticed in a preliminary assessment is that between 1856 and 1861, ‘Kansas’ is one of the top 30 most frequently named entity’s, higher than every other state other than Texas (of course,) and New York.

Another post that has less of a bearing on the issues I’m working through but is still interesting is two posts from April 2011 about how changing database construction in America’s Historical Newspapers as it pertains to the way in which advertisements are identified and counted as articles can skew results.

I’m glad I’m really starting to think critically about how these databases are constructed, not just about the images they contain. And I’m glad so many other people have gotten there first.

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