Was there any new information revealed from Linn’s diary entries on April 18th, 20th and 21st?

As my final project for “Digging into the Digital”, I chose to look at the letters that James Merrill Linn wrote on April 18th, 20th and 21st. To get the most accurate answer to my research question, I chose to do a close reading. My research question is: “Was there any new information revealed from Linn’s diary entries on April 18th, 20th and 21st?” My answer is: Yes, a lot of new information was revealed to me. From reading these letters, I have discovered that he is writing all of this information to send to his brother, on April 18th they were preparing for battle, and that all the fighting occurs on April 19th. In addition, I have learned that that the Confederates won and that on the 21st, Linn is talking about the aftermath of what happened on April 20th.

Close reading helped to reveal that On April 18th Linn and his troops were traveling from Roanoke to Elizabeth City. Linn writes “Lt. Col. Bell called us all up- the officers & told us we should get our men ready to march in an hour back to Elizabeth City. That our safety depended on our doing it that night- that Gen.Reno had reliable information that large reinforcements had been sent for and would be there before morning.” They were all preparing for battle and following Lt. Col Bell’s and the officers’ instructions. On April 19th Reno marched to South Mills. Linn wrote “caps taken off. Then Beaver came in and told me the 21st
had formed & we were to form immediately,” and they were about to begin the fighting. During the battle of South Mills they were fighting the Confederate troops. After a long day of fighting, the war was over and the Confederates had defeated them. On April 21st ,Linn is in the cornfield near Elizabeth City. He writes “ we landed in a cornfield near Elizabeth City some one remarked that was always our luck, but it was not always our luck to have as bright and sunny day as we had now.” He talks about the aftermath of the South Mills battle. He says “One of our boats brought Stitzer, of Co. E. who had been wounded & left, who told us that about 30 their wounded & stragglers had left the battle field at 8 o’clock next morning and came through.” At the end is a note he wrote to his brother, where he says ““I send this act to you. You must keep it strictly confidential.” Linn didn’t want his brother to share all the information he had written about. At this point everything is revealed as to what he’s been doing by his writing; he’s been sending it all to his brother.

I approached my final project in five main steps. First, I copied and pasted the diary entries from the Google document into a word document.

 

 

I then decided to mark up the word types with different colors based on whether they were a place, people, object, event, dates, traits and states. People, organizations, things with proper names or titles were blue , places were gray, events were red, objects were green, dates and times were purple, traits were indigo and states were a brownish green. Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 5.38.25 PM

During the mark up process I had a little trouble. For example. I had no idea what cavalry was. I didn’t know whether it was an object, place, or person. So I looked it up on the Internet to find out that cavalry are soldiers who fought on horseback. So I then highlighted the word in blue.

The next step I did was adding tags. I tagged words with : “object type,” “persName,” “roleName,” “placeName,””time,” “role” and “date.”

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After I was done with the tagging, I copied and pasted my work into oxygen.

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The reason I worked in Microsoft word was because it was easier for me to tag and color code in there as opposed to oxygen. The last step I did was I added page breaks and made sure there was no red coloring and that it was completely green.

I then wrote down new information that was revealed to me on a document beside the one I had previously been working on.

 

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I had to read the entries over a few times to make sure my information was correct. For example, at first I thought that April 21st revealed that the fighting was still going on but then when I went back and read it over again I realized that April 21st was just Linn talking about the aftermath of what occurred on April 19th. I learned other things while using close reading. I noticed that in the beginning he talked about objects a lot. I think he talked about objects because he was surrounded by so many at the time. For example: cannon, shell, ball, red flag and buckshot. Those are all objects that would be present in the preparation for war.

Overall close reading allowed me to understand what was happening in the diary entries and helped me to get the answer to my research question. I enjoyed working with Oxygen because it was very easy to maneuver. Throughout the semester I came to a realization that tagging and color coding were two beneficial techniques in helping to understand the context of Linn’s diary entries. I am glad I chose this as my final project because otherwise I would have never known the ending of Linn’s diary entries!

 

Bibliography:

Linn, James Merrill. Diary. 4/18, 4/20/ 4/21, 1862. MS. Bucknell University

 

Works Cited:

Battle of South Mills. (2014, November 29). Retrieved December 2, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_South_Mills

Personal accounts in letters in comparison to factual information in diary entries

For our final project, Mary Medure and I collaborated together to compare and contrast James Merrill Linn’s diary entries and his letters to his mother and brother, John. We wanted to focus more on the content of his diary entries and letters rather than specific tools that documented his locations. Thus, instead of mapping, we chose to each transcribe different letters that would be eventually tagged in TEI and converted to a Digital Edition. Mary and I chose to transcribe letters that were written around the same time frame to compare the content in each letter. Additionally, we wanted to transcribe both the letters that were in the same time frame as the diary entries we transcribed earlier this semester. Mary transcribed the letter to John on February 11, 1862 and her diary entries she already transcribed were February 8-12, 1862. I transcribed the letter to Linn’s mother on February 19, 1862 and the diary entries from February 5-7, 1862. We used Voyant tools to compare his most commonly used words in his diary entries and letters.

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Transcription Difficulty of Letter to Mother on February 19, 1862

During the transcription process, Mary and I separately transcribed the 2 pages of each letter and then collaborated together to clarify the words we could not decipher. We would read the letters aloud to each other to make more sense of Linn’s experiences. However, some words were illegible so we went to the archives in the library to read the letters first hand. In Linn’s letter to his Mother, Mary and I could not read the words at the end of each page because of the binding of the documents. In the archives, we could not bend or fold the pages over to read the full words so we had to make some educated guesses related to the context of each sentence. In Pierazzo’s article, she raises a great point that “[j]udgment is necessarily involved in deciding what is in fact present [in the manuscript], as when an ambiguously formed character resembles two different letters; but the transcriber’s goal is to make an informed decision about what is actually inscribed at each point (Meulen and Tanselle, 1999, p. 201)” (465). This demonstrates that although Mary and I went to the archives for a second look at the documents, we still needed to make educated contextual guesses for multiple words for the document to make sense. For example, the screenshot on the left shows the word “tomatoes” cut off. In this section of the letter, he was talking about food and “toma-” is legible. Therefore, I needed to make an educated guess with regards to the context of the sentence to figure out the word that was cut off at the end of the page.

Color Coding of Events and Affiliation in Letter to Mother February 19, 1862

Color Coding of Events and Affiliation in Letter to Mother February 19, 1862

After the transcription process, we needed to start tagging the words that we felt were most important to include. To make the tagging process simpler, we color coded based on person/people, place, affiliation, object, state, trait, event, date, time and military role. In our diary entries, we did not color code to the same extent. We found that affiliation and person/people  were important enough to be a separate entity. For instance, we consider “Americans” to be an affiliation because it is a group of people associated to a specific location. We also categorized “war” and “battles” as events rather than places because they are at different locations. I did not have “event” as a category in the diary entry I transcribed because he would refer to the battles as their real names. As he writes to his mother, I believe that he refers to the battles generally because he is not using the letters as a reference to his specific locations and events.

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Color Coding of Descriptions and States in Letter to Mother February 19, 1862

After color coding, we noticed that the majority of words we highlighted were descriptions and states of well being.  Highlighted in turquoise are the descriptions and highlighted in gray are states, including weather and emotions. He is writing to his mother pertaining more of his personal experiences and his emotional responses to the war overall. After color coding the letters, we tagged the words that were highlighted and transferred the document to Oxygen to make a Digital Edition.

Letters to Mom & John

Letters to Mother and John most commonly used words

Voyant is a great tool to use when comparing contextual information in different documents. Therefore, Mary and I thought it would be a good idea to compare the diary entries to the letters using Voyant.  First, we took our my transcription files of Linn’s letter to his mother and brother, John, to show the most commonly used words. I noticed that he frequently used “hope”, “remember”, “little”, and “home”. These words are more of an expression and description of how he feels and his reactions to his surroundings as opposed to specific locations and people. He refers to “home” (Lewisburg) frequently, which makes sense because he is talking to his mother. Generic terms like “men” and “company” are commonly used because his letter to his mother is more of a representation of his personal experiences rather than a collection of locations he travels to or people he encounters.

Diary entries (both)

Linn’s diary entries most commonly used words

After analyzing our transcriptions of Linn’s letters to his mother and brother, Mary and I combined our diary entries to see the most commonly used words. We noticed that military men of different ranks were prevalent throughout his diary entries. Linn refers to specific people such as General Burnside, Captain Bennet, and many more. Comparatively speaking, “battle” appears to be used in both the letters and diary entries; however, “battle” is significantly larger, indicating it was used more, in his diaries. This supports the hypothesis that Linn’s diary entries are more of a personal account of places and people, whereas his letters to his family are more of his emotional experiences throughout the war.

Transcribing Linn’s letters to his mother and John around the same time as Linn’s previously transcribed diary entries gave Mary and I the support to claim that Linn’s diary entries are a personal collection for himself of locations he has traveled to and people he has encountered along the way. In contrast, Linn’s letters to his mother and John are more generic and express his feelings regarding the war rather than the a series of places and people. Color coding helped us significantly as we found that our hypothesis was correct in saying that Linn’s writing to his mother and brother were more emotional and personal whereas his diary entries were a collection of people and places for himself to remember later. To visualize the contrast in diary entries and letters written to family, Voyant is a great visualization tool to give the viewer a general idea of the premise and themes of each document. Overall, this project gave me a much better understanding of James Merrill Linn’s diary purpose in writing what he did in both his diary entries and letters to home.

Here are the links to my final TEI product!

Digital edition: http://www.students.bucknell.edu/projects/HUMN10002/Harmatz/content/Harmatz_final.xml

Works Cited
Linn, James Merrill. Diary. February 5-7, 8-12, 1862. MS. Bucknell University Archives and Special Collections, Lewisburg, PA.
Linn, James Merrill. Letter to John. February 11, 1862. MS. Bucknell University Archives and Special Collections, Lewisburg, PA.
Linn, James Merrill. Letter to Mother. February 19, 1862. MS. Bucknell University Archives and Special Collections, Lewisburg, PA.
Pierazzo, Elena. “A Rationale of Digital Documentary Editions.” Literary and Linguistic Computing. 26.4(2011): 463-477.

 

 

Lightning Talk

On Monday, December 8 (last class) each student will present a 3-5 minute lightning talk about their final research project.

Your lightning talk should focus on work process, including discussion of data sources (maps, data layers, text), and plan for how data will be gathered/displayed/published with emphasis on tool chosen.

Your talk should be illustrated with slides (PowerPoint or Prezi) and  should include

  • research question/hypothesis
  • 2-3 slides w/ images of progress (e.g. close-up of tagging with problem or approach; map layers & data)
  • next steps in terms of evidence gathering and demonstrating that evidence in tool

In order to ensure that all students can present within the class period, please email your PowerPoint or Prezi link to me in advance. I will load them all on the computer before class so that transition between lightning talks is efficient and quick.

Week of 12/1 Assignments

It’s our final week of class 🙁

Here is what will happen in each class, important milestones, and plans for next Monday.

Monday, December 1

  • Final project workshop
  • abstract (150-200 words) due by 11pm

Wednesday, December 3

  • Final project workshop
    Outline of expectations for lightening talk

Friday, December 5

  • Final project workshop
  • Expectation of working draft of artifact by end of Friday’s class.
  • Homework: Prepare for Monday’s lightning talk

Lightening talk consists of:
Short in-class presentation of final project (3-5 minutes long) that is an articulation of research question, reason why this tool was chosen, whether or not it achieved the sought for answer to research question, demonstration of its function/argument as distinct because of the tool/approach.

Monday, December 8

  • Lightning talks

Final Project Instuctions

Your final project for this course focuses on a consideration of the digital methods we have learned over the course of the semester, as demonstrated through expanded analysis of the archival collection of Linn’s diary that we have relied upon:

  • a sound research question that offers a significant and original perspective on the subject matter with which we have engaged throughout the semester
    • for single student a demonstrated competence in one; or
    • for a collaborative project (between two students) demonstrated competence in least two of the digital methodologies
  • screenshots that demonstrate process, experimentation, mastery, complications, difficulties and challenges, how these were met – and hopefully overcome)
  • explanation about why particular method or tool was chosen
  • determination of method/tool’s effectiveness in addressing research question

The project will consist of:

  1. a 150-200 word abstract (due Monday, 12/1 by 11pm in Word document via email) that identifies your research question and identifies the digital method you have chosen to address the question
  2. Short (3-5 minute)  Powerpoint or Prezi presentation of final project in progress (in-class on December 8)  that is an articulation of your research question, the reason why you have chosen your particular digital method, whether or not you believe it is helping you to answer to research question, and a demonstration of how you are building your argument through the tool/approach. ** This presentation is meant to show your work in progress rather than the finished, polished artifact, which comes next.
  3. Artifact (due December 17 linked from reflection essay in WordPress) that is one of the following: a published map, network visualization file structure, or uploaded TEI file(s). A submitted artifact includes all necessary files and folders made available to instructor via browser interface.
    1. GIS: ArcGIS Online story map
    2. Gephi: exported sigma .js folder uploaded to netspace
    3. TEI: content file(s) uploaded to TEI Boilerplate folder in netspace
    4. Voyant or TimeMapper visualization (Voyant or TimeMapper can only be used as secondary / complementary methodology when submitted by a collaborating team, and must demonstrate a distinctly enhanced point of view about the research question)
  4. An 850-1000 word  reflection essay (due December 17 in WordPress) that includes a clear statement of your research question and methodology; and documentation of the process that leads to the completion of your project. Take screenshots of each significant phase of your project’s development (at least 5 screenshots from design to completion). Plus bibliography/webography, works cited, posted under the category “Final Project” and including five tags.

This project is worth 35% of your course grade. You will be graded according to the following guidelines:

  • Rhetorical Awareness (25%): Argument considers audience, message, and medium (artifact and essay): since this is meant to be public-facing scholarship, think about who might be looking at your artifact (not only your instructor and classmates, but also the wider campus population and/or conference attendees if you should choose to submit your project to a research conference)
  • Stance and Support (20%): Central claim is duly supported by evidence drawn from the core text, from readings, and from sample projects; i.e. evidence of original or expanded research into your subject matter
  • Organization (15%): Clear structure demonstrates presentation of research question, critical analysis through method, and moves logically from introduction to conclusion
  • Conventions (20%): Competent adherence to usage standards; skillful integration of core text and secondary sources – including citation
  • Design for Medium (20%): Well-chosen design features enhance audience motivation and participation

Final project submission is on Final exam date December 17, as published here:  http://www.bucknell.edu/FinalExamSchedule