August 2016 Archives

September 6, 2016

Office Hours Talk: Music and DH

September 6 at 2:00pm in the DHLab (SML 316)

During Office Hours, Jonathan Manton, the Music Librarian for Access Services, will present on the Digital Libraries for Musicology (DLfM) workshop, which was held at the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media on August 12. Highlighting cutting-edge methods for retrieving, analyzing, and interacting with musical data on small and mass scales (such as encoded online scores), Jonathan will speak to wider ongoing discussions surrounding Musical Information Retrieval (MIR) — research at the cross section of libraries, musicology, and digital humanities.

The Digital Libraries for Musicology (DLfM) workshop provides a forum for discussions on Music Digital Library systems, including:

  • the challenges of working with the multiple representations of music across large-scale digital collections (such as the Internet Archive and HathiTrust)
  • intersections with conversations around "linked data" and "big data"
  • to consider the suitability of existing Music Digital Libraries, particularly in light of new methods and applications emerging from musicology
  • the potential for Optical Music Recognition

All are welcome! Coffee and tea will be provided.

Post on August 26, 2016 - 10:24am |

August 22, 2016

The Yale University Library is pleased to announce changes and service improvements for the use of the print collection for Yale students.  Starting August 22nd, graduate students, undergraduates, and undergraduate seniors will enjoy longer loan periods for the general circulating collections, as follows:

  • Graduate students will see an increase from a six-month to a one-year loan.
  • Undergraduate students will see an increase from two months to four months.
  • Undergraduate seniors will see an increase from two months to an academic year loan, with all materials being due on May 31, 2017.
  • The Robert B. Haas Family Arts library will also expand its loans to include six-month loans for graduate students and staff (to match that of faculty); and two-month loans for all undergraduates.

These new loans should better match students’ needs and use of the print collection for the next academic year. In addition to loan expansion, there will be a slight increase in lost book charges, which were last increased in 2002. These loan changes do not apply to Reserves, Borrow Direct, or Interlibrary Loan materials.  To see a summary of all changes, please visit the Yale University Library Borrowing Guide.

Post on August 22, 2016 - 2:54pm |

August 19, 2016

Upcoming Courses

Still looking for classes to take this fall? Check out a few exciting DH-related courses below!

If you are teaching a course connected to DH and would like it included, please email the DHLab.

The American Counterculture, ENGL 195
Mondays, Wednesdays 1:30-2:20pm
R. John Williams

This lecture offers an introduction to the notion of the "counterculture" as both a historical and literary phenomenon.  We will not only introduce basic definitions of the concept (as understood by participants in the 1960s and 1970s), but also complicate those same definitions, offering more nuanced explorations of what it meant to cultivate an experience that ran "counter" to the dominant practices of American bourgeois society. DH Fellow Kimberly Quiogue Andrews will assist with this course.


Avant-Gardes and Émigrés, RUS 384/690 
Tuesdays, Thursdays 11:35am-12:50pm 
Marijeta Bozovic

The Avant-Gardes and Émigrés Lab, a highly collaborative experimental seminar open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates, has two primary objectives: to familiarize students with the work of some of the most influential Russian artists, writers, and thinkers of the twentieth century; and to introduce students to new ways of conducting and presenting research, using digital tools. DH Fellow Carlotta Chenoweth will assist with this course.  

Computational Tools for Data Science, CPSC 262/STAT 262
Tuesdays, Thursdays 2:30-3:45pm
Daniel Spielman 

This course provides an introduction to the core ideas and principles that arise in modern data analysis, bridging statistics and computer science and providing students the tools to grow and adapt as methods and techniques change. Topics include principle component analysis, independent component analysis, dictionary learning, neural networks, clustering, streaming algorithms (streaming linear algebra techniques), online learning, large scale optimization, simple database manipulation, and implementations of systems on distributed computing infrastructures. Students require background in linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and programming.

Take after or concurrently with MATH 222, 225, or 231, after or concurrently with MATH 120, 230, or ENAS 151, after or concurrently with CPSC 100, 112, or ENAS 130

Gender & Sexuality in Media and Popular Culture, AMST 402/ANTHRO 302/FILM 324/WGSS 380 
Tuesdays 2:30-4:20pm
T.L. Cowan, Laura Wexler

As part of the FemTechNet DOCC, this seminar on popular culture in the United States and transnationally will teach digital skills via a significant lab component in which students use media technologies to make and illustrate arguments. In the course, we will discuss gender, race, class, and sexuality in relation to the production, circulation, consumption, and reception of media culture.

Introduction to Latin American History, HIST 325
Mondays, Wednesdays 10:30-11:20am
Anne Eller

This lecture class offers an introduction to critical themes and events across a broad swath of Latin America’s history. The course considers major formative epochs and themes of race, class, and gender through the exploration of case studies from across the Central and South America and the Caribbean.  In order to engage meaningfully with these themes, the approach of the course is two-fold.  First, lectures offer a broad sweep of events, zooming in on moments of particular interest in ample context.  The readings, discussion section, and digital humanities elements, meanwhile, focus much more closely on individual countries, events, and groups. DH Fellow Brandi Waters will assist with this course.

Quantitative Linguistics using Corpora, LING 234/634
Wednesdays 4:00-5:50pm
Kevin Tang

This course provides an introduction to the basics of corpus linguistics. Students will learn how to compile and process corpora, as well as how to conduct statistical tests in R in order to better understand linguistic patterns. We will both create new corpora (through Webmining using BootCat) and use existing sets (e.g. COCA, British National Corpus) to discuss how extracted norms can be used to predict behavioral data. Digital humanities students from other departments are welcome.


Post on August 19, 2016 - 10:22am |

August 29, 2016

Award Recipients

The Digital Humanities Lab is delighted to announce the recipients of our 2016 Project Grants. These awards support the initial phases of faculty projects that pursue innovation and excellence in the humanities by way of digital methods. Selected from a highly competitive and varied field, the projects range from research on Renaissance Florence and present-day New Haven to twentieth-century Russian and East European émigrés.

2016 Recipients

Marijeta Bozovic, Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures 

Fabian Drixler, Associate Professor of History, and Peter C. Perdue, Professor of History 

Karin Roffman, Senior Lecturer in Humanities, English, and American Studies

Elihu Rubin, Associate Professor, Yale School of Architecture and American Studies

Francesca Trivellato, Frederick W. Hilles Professor, Department of History

We are currently accepting applications for the 2017 award cycle. For more information and to apply, please visit DHLab Grants.

Project Descriptions

Avant-Gardes and Émigrés: Digital Humanities and Slavic Studies
Principal Investigator: Marijeta Bozovic
Graduate Team: Carlotta Chenoweth, Jacob Lassin, Ingrid Nordgaard, Masha Shpolberg
Support Team: Anna Arays (Sterling), Trip Kirkpatrick (CTL), Kevin Repp (Beinecke), DHLab team

This project will develop a teaching, learning, and research initiative dedicated to the study of Russian and East European avant-gardes and émigrés in the twentieth century. The initiative will foreground the continuity of Russian Formalism, structuralism, semiotics, and discourse analysis with emerging work in Digital Humanities today. By studying social and institutional networks, the team will explore the dissemination and evolution of interpretive practices. The intersection of two fields uniquely situates us to interrogate the foundations of Digital Humanities practices, even as we explore new research methods, pedagogical tools, and archival and resource-sharing possibilities for cultural studies of Russia and East Europe.

Telling History through Images: New Tools for Visually Driven Narratives
Principal Investigators: Fabian Drixler and Peter Perdue 

The Visualizing Cultures website, dedicated to the examination of interactions between modern Asia and the West, contains over 50 units that exemplify a new form of historical analysis that integrates images and text in the form of visually drive narrative. This project will extend and redesign the existing website so as to expand the opportunities for other scholars to contribute to this emerging genre by developing software tools for the existing corpus or by creating templates that will allow scholars to work with their own images.

John Ashbery's 'Nest': A Virtual Tour and Digital Study Center of a Poet and Collector in his Hudson House
Principal Investigator: Karin Roffman
Project Team: Ninoslav Adzibaba (VHR Solutions), Milan Branezac (VHR Solutions), Monica Ong Reed (DHLab)

This project will provide ​crucial documentation of the American poet John Ashbery's Victorian house and collections. Using new virtual reality technologies to explore inside the house, we will create a prototype of the center hall that includes photographs, archival records, and audio clips of Ashbery and others discussing his collections. The website we design will enable users to experience the intimacy of being in "the middle of things," a reality that echoes in Ashbery’s poems.

A Digital, Mobile, and Interactive Field Guide to New Haven's Built Heritage
Principal Investigator: Elihu Rubin

The New Haven Building Archive (NHBA) brings together ten years of student research on buildings and streetscapes in New Haven, Connecticut. As an interactive digital guide to local buildings and the role they play in the life of the city, the NHBA will harness digital mapping technologies, place-based storytelling, and community-based research to prompt conversations about the historical patterns and future development of New Haven.

The Economy of Information in Renaissance Florence
Principal Investigator: Francesca Trivellato
Project Team: Pauline Bernard, Priscilla Coker, Russell Gasdia, Matteo Giuli, Stewart Palmer, Carlo Taviani, Niccolò Valmori

Was Renaissance Florence the cradle of Western capitalism and individualism? This project will create an online platform that will allow users to draw from unpublished archival material to search for new answers to this age-old question. Thanks to the Project Grant, the team will develop the analytics and visualization component of a relational database based on nearly 5,000 limited partnerships registered in Florence between 1445 and 1808 — arguably the longest and most homogeneous archival series of business contracts from pre-industrial Europe.


Post on August 15, 2016 - 1:58pm |

August 10, 2016

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library will reopen its iconic building on Tuesday, September 6th, following a 16-month renovation that upgraded the library’s climate-control system, expanded its classroom space, and restored the architectural landmark to its original luster.

“We are excited to welcome back researchers and visitors to the library — an architectural masterpiece that has been adapted to meet challenges created by an ever expanding collection, changing technology, and the evolving nature of the library’s mission,” Beinecke Library Director Edwin “E.C.” Schroeder said. “The renovation ensures that the Beinecke Library will remain a world-class center for teaching, research, and scholarship for decades to come.”

The building’s architectural features — its exterior grid of granite and Vermont marble panels, six-story glass stack tower, and sculpture garden by sculptor Isamu Noguchi — have been refurbished to fully preserve architect Gordon Bunshaft’s modernist masterpiece, which opened in October 1963. Chicago-based HBRA Architects led the design work. New Haven-based Newman Architects was also heavily involved in the project.

The bulk of the comprehensive renovation project concerned replacing the library’s mechanical infrastructure — its plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems — much of which was original to the building. Machinery in the building’s sub-basement, including room-sized air handlers and chillers, was replaced with state-of-the-art equipment. The building’s security and fire-suppression systems were also upgraded.

The project doubled the number of classrooms in the library from two to four. One of the new classrooms will function as a lab space in which students will have the ability to study the physical structures of books and experiment with inks, papermaking, and printing.

Read more in this YaleNews article.

Post on August 10, 2016 - 12:51pm |

August 18, 2016

Coffee and Code: Introduction to Bookworm

August 18 from 2:00-3:30pm in Bass Library, L06

Visualize word frequencies at the DHLab's Coffee and Code. During the workshop, participants learned how to deploy Bookworm, a tool for analyzing trends in word or phrase frequencies over a designated time span. Sample text files were provided, but participants were encouraged to bring their own data for discussion. No prior programming experience was required.

Couldn't make it to the workshop?

See our GitHub page for what we covered.

For the cloud-based version of Bookworm, visit Culturomics.

To see one deployment of Bookworm in action, check out the n-gram search on Yale's "Robots Reading Vogue" project site.


Post on August 5, 2016 - 2:27pm |

Not uncommon at the time, and increasingly common during the antebellum era, one $23,000 mortgage was secured by 41 slaves.

This guest post is by Connor Williams, a second-year graduate student in the Yale History Department, who has been working as a graduate assistant on a project in Manuscripts and Archives to identify more collection materials relating to slavery, abolition, and resistance in the 19th-century United States.

I had great hopes for the William and George, the Woolsey brothers.  At first glance, their resumes seemed impeccable: they were New York merchants who at times served as presidents of both the New York Chamber of Commerce and the New York Manumission Society. William also fathered Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale’s anti-slavery President during and after the Civil War, and through his service their surname graces Yale’s grand concert hall and war memorial, where the walls bear the names of the 114 Yale men who died for the Union.  (For full disclosure, 54 Yalies also died for the Confederacy, and their names are intertwined alphabetically with their Yankee classmates, providing a troubling reminder of how far the Lost Cause spread).  On more esoteric matters the Woolseys also appealed to my northeastern biases—they were early blockade runners when Jefferson forced his myopic Embargo Act upon the merchant classes, and savvy operators in international trade.  William even petitioned that Congress include black and foreign-born seamen in its 1795 act guarding against sailors’ impressments, acknowledging that though not U.S. citizens, they nonetheless sailed for American merchants and deserved “the protection of the American flag.”  Taken in sum, the Woolseys presented that which so often eludes a student of the New Republic and the 19th century: pro-union, anti-slavery federalists who were civic minded and strove to enhance the lives of many.  In short, some early Americans who we can celebrate without reserve, and in whose eponymous concert hall the Yale Glee Club can perform without regret.

Yet maxims exist for a reason: and that which seems too good to be true almost always is. Reading through the Woolsey’s business records, slight patterns start to emerge.  Though noble in purpose, the manumission society’s practices leave something to be desired for the modern researcher: one manumission was contingent on the slave’s faithful service as a deckhand aboard two dangerous voyages to the East Indies and back, while another master manumitted his slave only after the slave finished eleven years service as a hired hand (the master received the wages).  That man, twenty-seven years old at the time, would not receive his freedom until close to his fortieth birthday.  A similar document, for a five-year-old girl whose owner calls her a “wench,” withholds freedom for twenty years.

In matters of trade, some troubling anecdotes also appear: most notably, in the summer of 1796, William Woolsey seemed reluctant to investigate claims that New York merchants were bringing enslaved men and women to Cuba in order to take away the valuable sugar products being created there.  Despite being reminded that it was “a crime against humanity and the law of the United States” by a petitioner and receiving evidence of nine New York vessels plying the illicit trade, Woolsey only lukewarmly consented to form a committee to investigate future claims, and to act only if “any cases should be discovered sufficiently clear so as to warrant them to commence a suit.”

One of three plantation mortgages the Woolseys underwrote soon after the Louisiana Purchase. As with many documents issued in New Orleans, the text is entirely in French.

One of three plantation mortgages the Woolseys underwrote soon after the Louisiana Purchase. As with many documents issued in New Orleans, the text is entirely in French. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 26.

Perhaps Woolsey’s reluctance to investigate New York’s commercial ties to slavery was prophetic: seven years later the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, and the Woolseys were some of the first major investors in the plantation products—especially cotton and sugar—that New Orleans now offered the nation.  In 1805 George Woolsey even went so far as to employ New Orleans denizen George Phillips as his agent in the port to buy and ship slave-grown sugar and cotton up north: William signed on as a silent partner.  From the start Phillips’ letters to Wolsey indicate an ambition that borders on avarice: he repeatedly asks for more buying power, fewer restraints on his agency, and more money. This process culminated in Phillips’ entry into three mortgages with the Woolseys for  $75,000—at least $1,500,000 in today’s dollars, and almost certainly more in real value—to expand his New Orleans operation.  For one of the mortgages, Phillips offered 41 slaves as collateral to secure a $23,000 loan.

Not uncommon at the time, and increasingly common during the antebellum era, one $23,000 mortgage was secured by 41 slaves.

Not uncommon at the time, and increasingly common during the antebellum era, one $23,000 mortgage was secured by 41 slaves. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 26.

Though dubious, this in itself is not especially damning.  Successful mortgages never see the security brought into question; instead, the debts are paid on time to the benefit of both parties.  The Woolseys, an apologist might say, faced the same dilemma that investors face today: diversifying their portfolio across varied interests, even those that may cause controversy.   In this sense, a mortgage secured with slaves was no different than an investment in shipping cotton.  Slavery existed somewhere in the process, but there was little that William and George, as merchants and creditors, could do about it.  Besides, their work with the manumission society, however faulty, demonstrated that their intentions were in the right place.

As their business dealings worsened, the Woolseys began to consider the possibility of actually acquiring the slaves as a security, and made plans to sell them.

As their business dealings worsened, the Woolseys began to consider the possibility of actually acquiring the slaves as a security, and made plans to sell them. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 27.

Yet the events that transpired removed any of these ambiguities.  By 1807, Phillips proved to be overwhelmed in his new venture, and rumors came back to George that the debtor was unable to meet his upcoming financial obligations.  Woolsey wasted no time in dispatching another agent to the New Orleans, with instructions to press the Woolseys’ claim with all haste to recover whatever funds might remain.   He expressed his desire for the agent to avoid collecting the slaves as payment, but tellingly instructed his new agent to “dispose of them in the most summary way possible” in case nothing else could be collected.  By 1808, Woolsey was actively pursuing their collection, before Phillips “[sent] them away to Baton Rouge” or another difficult to reach part of the territory.  The Woolsey brothers, whatever their intentions at the outset might have been, had become slave owners and slave-sellers.

Ultimately, money trumped morals. Fearing that the slaves would be moved inland to Baton Rouge, Woolsey ordered his agent to collect them at once.

Ultimately, money trumped morals. Fearing that the slaves would be moved inland to Baton Rouge, Woolsey ordered his agent to collect them at once. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 28.

Ultimately, this is meant neither to sensationalize the Woolsey family story, nor to insinuate that the accomplishments of the Woolsey family—and their works at Yale—are necessarily invalidated by this moment in two of their lives.  A trove of much needed scholarship over the last decades has outlined the prominent roles northerners and northern institutions played in the trading and financing of enslaved people and the plantation goods they produced.  A dozen years ago Craig Wilder’s Ebony and Ivy focused the issue on venerable academic institutions, and Yale continues to grapple with its past relationship with slavery and slaveholders to this day, as highlighted by the debate over the name of Calhoun College during the 2015-2016 academic year.  Moral judgments on matters like this depend on more factors than could possibly be listed in this blog post.

Yet the facts of the case present us with a compelling historical case study that reminds us that American slavery was not confined to the plantation, and that though the heartless cruelties of the lash and the auction need to be remembered by all, they are far from the only instances in which slavery interacted with our society during the New Republic and antebellum years.  The story of this pair of manumission-minded brothers from New York, who inadvertently acquired absolute control over the lives of 41 humans and sold them for cash rather than granting their freedom is a telling reminder that rather than a “peculiar institution” within American society, chattel slavery was a foundation upon which that entire society was built.  The question is not whether the Woolseys could have absorbed the $23,000 loss that would have come with emancipating or manumitting their suddenly acquired slaves; for whatever it matters, their record books, which often reached six digits, suggest that it would have been a manageable loss.  The right question should be how a society could exist in the Land of the Free that saw human beings enumerated, valued, and mortgaged as property, and how their otherwise liberal-minded new owners could wish for them to be quickly “disposed of” as though they were a sub-par shipment of any other commodity to be sold at whatever price could be salvaged.   For while there are many rubrics for what constitutes a slave society, it’s difficult to think of one where this story, preserved in Yale’s Woolsey Family Papers, would not fit.

Note on quotations in this post that are not accompanied by an image of the quoted document: Quotations in this post relating to manumission and illicit trade with Cuba are taken from letters in the Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Manuscripts and Archives, Box 67, Folders 2-3. The discussion of the growing precariousness of George Phillips’ financial dealings in New Orleans are drawn from correspondence that can be found in the Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 68, Folders 11-12.

Post on August 2, 2016 - 1:10pm |

August 1, 2016

In early June, the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, located in Sterling Memorial Library, embarked on a renovation project that will continue through mid-December 2016.

The renovation is happening in tandem with building the new location for the Center for Teaching and Learning, who share the neighboring space. Once complete, the principal entrance for both the Music Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning will be via the York Street side of Sterling Memorial Library, though access will also be available through the nave.

The highlights of the renovation include a new circulation desk, new staff offices, improved shelving for the Recordings Collection, a new location for self-service photocopying and scanning, and two new technology-focused seminar rooms. A glass wall will provide an imposing new entrance, and the space will be further enhanced with exhibit cases and large digital displays in the corridor outside of the Music Library entrance. Services will continue as normal throughout the renovation; more information can be found on the Music Library’s website.

Post on August 1, 2016 - 3:17pm |

August 1, 2016

In January, Yale’s new Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will move into renovated space in Sterling Memorial Library – space recently vacated when the library’s technical services staff moved to a new location at 344 Winchester Avenue. Currently housed in 320 York Street, the center fosters excellence in teaching and learning at Yale by providing teaching consultations, support for student learning and writing, global online learning opportunities, advancement grants to faculty and graduate students, and a host of other initiatives that promote Yale’s teaching mission.

“Locating the CTL in Sterling Memorial Library will increase access to a wealth of resources,” said Jennifer Frederick, Executive Director of Yale’s CTL. “Our Sterling space is designed to prioritize collaboration and teamwork, both within the CTL and with key partners such as our library colleagues. The central importance of teaching and learning at Yale is signaled by placing us in the heart of campus.”

The renovated space will occupy 35,000 square feet of the library, including a corridor connecting the newly opened York Street entrance to the nave. The center’s new home will include a technology-learning studio, several flexible classroom or meeting spaces, and one-on-one tutoring rooms.

Susan Gibbons, University Librarian and Deputy Provost for Collections and Scholarly Communication, commented, “We are very excited to welcome the CTL into Sterling Memorial Library. The center’s support of teaching and learning is a perfect complement to the research services provided by the library. This new venture will transform Sterling Memorial Library into a key locus for academic support on campus.”

Post on August 1, 2016 - 3:02pm |

August 1, 2016

In 2015, the Yale University Library launched a three-year pilot program to provide students with opportunities to curate exhibits and display research.  “Student Research at Yale University Library," on view from mid-fall through the end of the spring semester, highlights four exceptional student research projects. The selected students curate small, facsimile-based displays that incorporate resources available at the Yale Library. The exhibit not only shows the results of the students’ research, but also emphasizes the breadth and accessibility of the library’s collections. For example, the most recent exhibit featured primary sources available through Manuscripts and Archives, the East Asia Library, and the Beinecke Library, among others.

The annual “Senior Exhibit Project” selects one senior undergraduate student to create a larger exhibit based on his or her senior essay. The exhibit is installed in May and remains on view until the start of the fall semester. The process of developing a thesis into a visual display often encourages the student to approach his or her topic from a new perspective and make additional discoveries. Stephanie Tomasson (Jonathan Edwards ‘16), the most recent student curator, created an exhibit that examined comic books as tools for both entertainment and sociopolitical commentary.  The visual nature of her topic lent itself particularly well to the curatorial opportunity, and Tomasson realized that adapting her research for an exhibit allowed her to make connections that she could not necessarily make in a written essay. 

The selected student curators have approached their projects with imagination, enthusiasm, and professionalism. A curator’s talk and reception accompany each of these exhibits and have been well-attended by classmates, faculty, library staff, and the general public. Curatorial work at Yale Library allows students to share current and ongoing research through an experience that is challenging, hands-on, and incredibly rewarding.

Post on August 1, 2016 - 2:43pm |