Project Assignments

As a part of a group (or alone, if you are very brave) you are going to...

  • Locate and 'scrape' an historical dataset
  • Clean and transform the information
  • Visualize the results
  • Generate initial interpretations
  • Contextualize your findings vz. historical scholarship
  • Publish your work in an online digital notbook

We will discuss the project regularly over the course of the class.

On the way to your final project, you have several assignents first, the Source Analysis and your Proposal and Bibliography. These assignments all build to your final project.

Check out the repository for the final project template.

Past Project Examples

To get some idea of what your final product might look like, you can check out examples of final projects from previous classes.

Final Projects from Similar Versions of this Class

Final Projects from Earlier Versions of the Class

Source analysis (Individual Assignment)

Click here for the course assignment repository

Locate a digital source that is related to you (or your group's) general research aims. I will allow a generous leeway in terms of how much the source relates to your final topic, so even a source that is indirectly related is acceptable for now. Remember, although researches start off with a topic of interest, they nearly always end up changing their questions.

This exercise is designed to (a) get you thinking critically about an digital source and (b) what are the possibilities and problems of using that source to illuminate your possible research interests. If in the process of doing your source analysis you realize that your research interest might need significant reworking, that is okay. I expect everyone’s topics to change over the course of the semester. The aim of this exercise is to teach you to think about how to approach any digital source.

In a 1-2 page response, answer (when applicable) the following questions...

  • Where is your source located (URL? Or traditional media)
  • What kind of source is it? (Diaries, records of objects, data tables, etc...)
  • Who, or what organization, is responsible for hosting the source (if online), who gathered the information?
  • Is there any information available discussing the process by which the information was gathered, or how the digital project was constructed?
  • How transparent is the project about the choices they made in gathering and transforming the data for digitalization?
  • Do the organizations or individuals involved in gathering and publishing your data set have any stated goals or agendas?
  • Do the organizations or individuals involved seem to have any unstated agendas or goals?
  • If a 3rd party funded the project, who are they? Do they have any particular perspective?
  • Do the datasets involved reflect the viewpoints of particular groups or institutions, and if so, who?
  • What kinds of categorizations do you find in the data, and do they seem reasonable?

Proposal and Bibliography (Group Assignment)

Next, I need a short proposal, telling me more about what each group intends to do for their project. This will help me guide you in developing your project.

  • In one to two paragraphs, what is your research topic, what question(s) do you want to explore?
  • In one to two paragraphs, what is your data source? How will you get it? What kind of work will you have to do to prepare it? What tool(s) will you use to transform and analyze it? Your answer to this should give me an overall picture of how you intend to get from point A to Z.
  • Describe what each group member intends to do.
  • Finally, I need a bibliography (10-15 sources), with light annotation (2-3 sentences) explaining how this source relates to your project. Bibliographical sources can include...
    • Related historical research (of a traditional variety)
    • Research/discussion of digital methods you will be using
    • Debates about digital theory relevant to your project
    • Digital projects employing methods you hope to use
    • Digital work that has already been done on your historical topic
    • Other (as long as it relates)

Final Project Duties & Requirements

Specialization Roles

No one can master everything. As you progress, different group members should gravitate towards different skillsets. You are not bound or defined by the following roles, they are merely to help you split up the work and learn the skills specific to your needs.

There are four loosely defined 'roles', Project Manger, Data Scientist, Visualization Expert, and Scholarship Analyst. You can find more information about these roles, and a series of tutorials related to each skillset in the Paths page.


The list below walks you through the process of how to get and make changes to the final project. Don't just send all your changes to your group leader at the last minute. As you complete various phases of your work, send your changes back to your project manager's develop branch.

  1. Setting Up...
    1. The project manager will fork the final project template repository.
    2. Each group member will fork their project manager's template
    3. Each group member will then make a sub-branch of the 'develop' branch named 'users/your-username' (without the quotes, and substituting your own username)
  2. Working on the Project
    1. The project manager is the only one allowed to change the 'master' or 'develop' branches
    2. As they go, each group member (even the project manager) will only make direct changes to their own 'users/your-username' branch
    3. When you complete any phase of your work and you want to make it available to your group, send a pull request to the 'develop' of your project manager
    4. At this point, the project manager can approve or deny changes to the workbook, or ask you for further revisions.
    5. Once the pull request is approved, everyone can sync the changes into their own repositories.
    6. When you want to change the 'master' branch, the project manager will launch a pull request from the 'develop' branch to the 'master' branch, and then approve it.
  3. Submitting and Reviewing
    1. When you are all done and the master branch of the project manager looks like you want it to, the project manager will launch a pull request from their master branch to mine.
    2. I will then make comments on the pull request itself, and close it (because I don't want it to change the original template) when I am done reviewing it.
    3. You are done!