Digital Humanities

8
Aug18

Northeastern University Library Receives Two National Endowment for the Humanities Grants

Posted by: Library News

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August 8th, 2018 – The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Northeastern University Library a $500,000 Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant. The funded project – Research Infrastructure for Digital Scholarship – will further propel Northeastern’s commitment to digital scholarship, the synthesis of archival materials and data, and experiential education. This challenge grant will expand the Library’s technical capacity through the creation of four new staff positions to undertake technical development, data design, and semantic data integration.

Northeastern University Library also received $197,000 from the NEH’s Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities program to support “Word Vectors for the Thoughtful Humanist: Institutes on Critical Teaching and Research with Vector Space Models”, a series of four three-day institutes that will explore the use of word embedding models for textual analysis.

Formed in 2013, The Library’s Digital Scholarship Group has undertaken several important digital humanities projects, including Design for Diversity, Our Marathon, TAPAS, and the Women Writers Project. This challenge grant will continue to support these projects, as well as provide support for the recently announced Boston Research Center, which will be housed in Snell Library. The director of the Digital Scholarship Group, Julia Flanders, will provide leadership on both grants, and Sarah Connell is a co-director on the “Word Vectors” grant.

“In many ways these grants recognize and reward the great progress we’ve made over the past five years in establishing the Library as a significant research partner in the digital humanities at Northeastern, and affirm Northeastern’s status as a leader in this space” states Patrick Yott, Associate Dean for Digital Strategies and Services.

“We deeply appreciate this major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and are truly excited about the additional projects and overall capacity this funding will underwrite in the Library and across Northeastern,” said Dan Cohen, the Dean of the Libraries.

Posted in: Digital Humanities, Experiential Research Library, Library News

6
Aug18

How one prolific Wikipedian is giving voice to pre-20th century women’s stories

Posted by: Library News

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This post was written by Cassidy Villeneuve on March 28th, 2018 and originally published on wikiedu.org As part of Women’s History Month, we’re looking at how our programs are helping to close Wikipedia’s gender gap. So far, we’ve featured work by students in our Classroom Program, who have improved Wikipedia’s coverage of women directorswomen in STEMwomen in academia, and more.
Visiting Scholar Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight. File:Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight.jpgVGrigas (WMF), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. 
This week, we’re profiling Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, a prolific Wikipedian and a participant in our Visiting Scholars program, a program in which Wikipedians receive access to academic sources they wouldn’t otherwise be able to use. During her years as a Wikipedian, Rosie has created and improved thousands of articles and has uploaded hundreds of images to Wikimedia Commons. She has also co-founded projects like Women in Red, an on-Wikipedia group dedicated to increasing the site’s coverage of women and women’s history, and the Teahouse, a project to welcome newbies into the editing community. In 2016, she was named Wikipedian of the Year, along with Emily Temple-Wood, for her efforts to improve the world’s most popular online encyclopedic resource. When Rosie joined our Visiting Scholars program, she gained access to a number of new sources through Northeastern University. This new access to previously restricted materials “adds another dimension” to Rosie’s workflow, she tells us in an interview about what she’s accomplished through the position. Rosie has already made impressive progress since March of last year, as seen on the Dashboard. Through the position, Rosie is focusing on improving biographies of pre-20th century women writers in the English language (with the definition of “writer” broadly construed). At this point in her Visiting Scholars experience, Rosie has created 194 new articles on Wikipedia, most of which are biographies of these pre-20th century women, and has added nearly 500,000 words. She estimates that in all of her time as a Wikipedian, she has created hundreds of biography articles of women. So what motivates Rosie to dedicate valuable time and energy to improving this resource that we all use? As Rosie explains, it all starts with one woman: her maternal grandmother, a textbook editor in Serbia and co-founder and president of the Yugoslav Association of University Women. She wrote for a living and published a number of monographs, essays, translations, and books throughout her life. In a similar vein, Rosie’s mother was a poet who earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Barnard and spent time in Columbia’s journalism school. These women writers had a significant impact on Rosie and their stories have been an impetus for her journey into public scholarship. <br< Rosie’s motivation for improving Wikipedia’s coverage of women’s history is a personal one, and so it’s not surprising that she has personally connected with stories of women she has written about. When asked about particular articles that have been most meaningful to her, Rosie points to the life of Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida. Deolinda is considered the mother of the Angolan revolution. She was an avid writer, translator, poet, and teacher. She dedicated her life to the Angolan Independence movement, and was tortured and killed for her involvement. “She was so bound to her cause, to her people,” Rosie remarks. “She traveled from Angola, she was in Brazil, she corresponded with Martin Luther King, Jr. She touched my heart. And to know that the last days of her life were so wronged just — she just sticks with me.”
Eunice Eloisae Gibbs Allyn, who has a biography article on Wikipedia thanks to Rosie. File:Eunice Eloisae Gibbs Allyn.png, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
“Many of the women, their lives are important to me,” Rosie tells us. Eunice Eloisae Gibbs Allyn is another example; she was forced to write under a pen name (as were many women writers of this time) because her brother didn’t want to have a “bluestocking” in the family. By representing the lives and accomplishments of these women writers for Wikipedia’s worldwide audience, Rosie honors their names. While they were silenced in the past, we are not silent about them now. “Jane Doe, you deserve this,” Rosie says about the importance of writing these biography articles, “I know I can do it, and if I don’t do it, I don’t know who else is gonna do it.” There is an element of leadership inherent in the active Wikipedian role. Wikipedia encourages volunteers to “Be bold!” in their editing. And the site’s open-source nature puts the responsibility of maintaining its quality on volunteers. Part of what makes Wikipedia one of the most successful crowd-sourced knowledge projects to date is the avid commitment of editors like Rosie. Wikipedians rally to uphold Wikipedia’s purpose of benefiting readers everywhere by being the most comprehensive and accessible encyclopedia ever written. We’re proud to support dedicated Wikipedia editors like Rosie through our Visiting Scholars program. We look forward to following the impact that Rosie continues to make on the valuable resource that is Wikipedia.

Posted in: Digital Humanities

7
May18

“Storytelling, Archives, and Resilience”: reflecting on the role of community archives in the Boston Marathon bombing

Posted by: Caroline Klibanoff

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On Monday, April 23 – five years and a week after tragedy struck Boston in the form of the Boston Marathon bombing – faculty, staff, students and members of the community gathered in Alumni Center to share reflections on remembering traumatic events and processing grief through collections and digital archives. The event commemorated five years of collecting objects and memories in “Our Marathon: the Boston Bombing Digital Archive,” a project that originated at Northeastern through efforts in the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Northeastern University Libraries. This year, faculty, staff and graduate students worked to migrate the site’s contents and metadata onto a new digital space under library management, giving it a long-term home where the collection can be preserved. Megan Barney, Lauren Bergnes Sell and David Heilbrun will reflect on their experience completing this migration in future blog posts. The event featured a panel of scholars whose work has been grounded in collecting and preserving so-called “grief archives,” including:
  • Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration and Dean of University Libraries and co-director of the 9/11 Digital Archive
  • Ashley Maynor, award-winning filmmaker behind The Story of the Stuff and currently Digital Scholarship Librarian at New York University
  • Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Our Marathon Principal Investigator and currently Professor of English at Northeastern University
  • Kristi Girdharry, the Our Marathon Oral History Project Manager and currently Assistant Professor of English at Johnson and Wales University
  • Jim McGrath, Co-director of the Our Marathon project and currently post-doctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at Brown University.

Amanda Rust introduces panelists

Amanda Rust, Assistant Director of the Digital Scholarship Group, introduced the panelists to a packed crowd including university professors, graduate students, library staff, community members and project partners from outside Northeastern. As moderator, Cohen discussed findings and recollections from his experience as co-director of the 9/11 Digital Archive. He noted the emotional intelligence required to do this kind of work, especially in regards to community engagement. Maynor, the filmmaker behind The Story of the Stuff, set the stage by discussing the therapeutic effect of saving and organizing objects across various circumstances like family archives and spontaneous shrines. She noted that the value of such archives can be that they protect objects, put away for safekeeping; we know they are there, but we don’t have to look at them anymore.

Ashley Maynor

Girdharry and McGrath joined Maddock Dillon in a discussion of the process and outcome of the Our Marathon digital archive. Girdharry spoke to her work as Oral History Project Manager, where she discovered the clusters of stories that emerged from a wide range of personal experiences. She pointed out the different angles of narrative involved to tell a more complete story of the events of that day. Maddock Dillon, the project’s principal investigator, also highlighted the collective nature of the archive, drawn from crowdsourced objects and memories, and the collective labor that went into producing and maintaining it. These aspects, she said, along with the desire to enable the community to reclaim the narrative, drove the project’s name, “Our Marathon.”

From left: Jim McGrath; Kristi Girdharry; Elizabeth Maddock Dillon; Dan Cohen

As co-director of the project, McGrath has been highly involved in the archive from conception to its move to a new home in the library. McGrath initiated the collection’s move to a more permanent web space, and it is thanks to his persistence and care that the Our Marathon digital archive will continue to be accessible. During the panel, he pointed out the critical importance of community engagement in doing this kind of work, and how listening to the needs and values of multiple communities can correct our assumptions. He has written more about his long-term experience on the project at the National Council on Public History blog History@Work. After listening to the panel presentation, the audience asked questions about the labor and process of managing such collections and the role of the digital in future work. The Our Marathon: Boston Bombing Digital Archive is viewable at https://marathon.library.northeastern.edu/about/.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Digital Humanities, Library News