I have to admit when I first read the instructions for this week’s activities and blog post, I was skeptical that I had any data related to my topic or if there was anything I’d have to hunt really hard for it.
Then I read Miriam Posner‘s blog post about Humanities Data. And it spoke to me. She laid out perfectly well how historians and humanists are so attuned to their sources they can feel the nuances that prove their argument before needing a chart of data to rely upon. I especially liked the example of the melodrama within 1920s silent films. Indeed, the film itself provides a much richer experience and sense of melodrama than a chart with a list of characteristics. But when Posner began to explain that all humanists’ computers are filled with files upon files of images, documents, maps, etc. that are difficult to organize, it struck a chord with me. I, too, have this problem.
And that’s how I figured out what I would use for my tidy data set. This dataset represents a number of newspaper articles published about the Public Assemblages Act of 1926. I have indicated the date, newspaper title, publication location, type of article, and the demographic of the newspaper owner. One day I would like to add to this data set by researching more newspapers that were in publication across Virginia or even more heavily investigate papers that I have only a small sampling of. Basically this dataset represents the articles I was able to scan from microfilm during one (long and exhausting) visit to the Library of Virginia or was able to pull from an online database.
I have actually been meaning to do compile this information into a spreadsheet. I particularly wanted to see the spread of dates and see which papers were publishing similar stories on the same dates.