Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools is a helpful program during the process of text analysis. A process in finding language patterns in large texts that would have regularly taken days can now be completed with the click of a button. Visualizations such as a word-cloud and scatter plots are generated along with frequency counts and various search tools. While it has its benefits, it is important for the users to remember that the analysis provided by Voyant Tools is not the end of the analysis process, but rather a jumping off point.


When looking at Voyant Tools, it is important to look past the raw data that it has provided. In the analysis of the book Emma by Jane Austen, the word Emma is used a lot. This is not something that is necessarily significant because that is the name of the main character. It would only make sense that her name appear as one of the most frequently used words. However, something that can be noted is that the formal titles of Mr., Mrs., and Miss appear almost as much, if not more than the main character’s name. This can be used to extrapolate that formal titles were far more frequent in the pattern of speech and given names were less significant. This can be used to pursue further analytics in formal patterns of speech if that is the direction that the analyst wishes to take.

This process gives us a simplified way of viewing analytics that were previous done by hand. Visualizing the data has also allowed for connections to be drawn when comparing texts as well. All of the analysis performed could have been done previously, as such nothing new is provided by the analysis, however as mentioned, it has made this process far more accessible to anyone, not just historians, but in the study of linguistics as well. Historians can find great use for Voyant Tools in their study of historical texts, however they must remember that they are performing the true analysis, not the program.


Out of the Desert HGIS Review

For this week’s blog post, I will be reviewing the HGIS project by Yale University on the Japanese internment camp detention and relocation during the Second World War titled “Out of the Desert“.  Upon entry to the site, it immediately presents the information in a visual and interactive manor without any complicated tools. It’s unclear what GIS program was used.

The map itself is nothing particularly special, however the use of different icons allows visitors to distinguish between the relocation centers and the assembly centers. By clicking on each individual icon, a small history of each location is shown along with more visual tiles which open photos related to that location. The aesthetics of mixing both the text information and the visuals is well done. However, upon clicking on the visual, it begins a slideshow however both the information regarding what the photo is and the photo itself are on two different slides. This makes for a somewhat confusing and back and forth motion in order to read how the photo relates to the information previously read.


In addition to the map, there is a small description which provides a link which leads to a self-led history of the relocation ordered by President Roosevelt and goes further into detail regarding the treatment and lifestyle of a prisoner of the camp. This slideshow is both visually appealing and informative. The information is presented in an organized manner that made it quite easy to navigate and understand. Furthermore, the language used was not that of a scholarly article, but rather an educational piece that those outside the in-depth study of History could understand and use, for example in a high school project. There are some areas where text overflow is an issue as it sometimes bleeds out of the boundaries of the text, however this is a very minor issue that does not take away from the benefit of the rest of the HGIS project.


I enjoyed exploring this HGIS project and learning more about the Japanese treatment during World War II as we have a similar history in Canada. They also provide information regarding the Noguchi Museum in New York and a symposium that was held earlier in October 2017, where further information can be found.

Digital History Introduction

Hi all, my name is Ciara O’Connell and I can’t wait to be writing for you all over the next few months. I don’t lead the most interesting life, however I will tell you a little about me so you can know a little about who I am and what will be happening over the next few months.

I come from a small town North of the GTA. It was in this small town that I realized I needed to leave small town life and pursue a career in accounting. While it isn’t the most exciting of career paths, it’s one that I find fascinating. Its more than financial statements, its about making sense of the illogical and making it logical for those who are interested in reading the information. This is also why I chose to take this course. In the study of history, digital history allows a massive amount of information to be presented to the interested public in a logical manner.

Digital history, while an emerging topic for some, has deep roots dating back centuries. It is important for historians and for those in positions of power to understand that digital history is more than cataloguing old texts and merely digitizing them, it is about a wellspring of knowledge that would be otherwise inaccessible to many without the creation of internet-based databases. Digital history faces opposition for this very reason, as funding comes from those in power who may not fully understand the overarching need for what digital history has to offer. I believe that digital history is an important field of study and open topic of conversation. If understood by the decision-makers, appropriate funding can be provided in order to the much needed resources that become available through the investment. Similar to financial statements in accounting, we must present the information in a true light as to ensure the best possible decisions can be made.