Speaking in South Dakota

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I was on the road last week presenting my talk on Woman Suffrage to two audiences in South Dakota. On Tuesday, I spoke in Yankton at the recently renovated Mead Building, home of the Mead Cultural Education Center. I was … Continue reading

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South Dakota’s Many Campaigns

Woman suffrage emerged as a political issue early in the history of Dakota Territory and later, South Dakota. After fifty years of struggle, the suffrage proponents finally persuaded the male voters to accept women as equals at the ballot box. … Continue reading

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Blogging about Woman Suffrage state campaigns

The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution opened voting rights to all citizens, regardless of sex. The amendment became law in 1920. Before that event, fifteen states and Alaska Territory had already enfranchised their female citizens. In my blog, … Continue reading

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The Wisconsin Campaign for Woman Suffrage

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“Ceaseless, Unremitting Toil:” The Wisconsin Campaign for Woman Suffrage By Ruth Page Jones The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution Adopted on August 18, 1920, after ratification by thirty-six states: “The right of citizens of the United States to … Continue reading

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Why South Dakota and Wisconsin?

Most of my history writing covers topics in either South Dakota or Wisconsin. Why is that? Well, I lived in South Dakota the first twenty-four years of my life, most of that time in my hometown of Plankinton. After high … Continue reading

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Equality at the Ballot Box

Equality at the Ballot Box I wrote the chapter on school suffrage. Long before the Nineteenth Amendment passed, giving women equal voting rights, women in many states could vote on school matters and run for school offices. The book will … Continue reading

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New History Career

Since graduating in December of 2015 with a Masters in History, I’ve published a couple articles, attended several conferences, contributed to a book, and gone on the speaker circuit. A small section in my thesis about Woman Suffrage led to … Continue reading

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Public Lives of Rural Women

Thesis Methodology for Rural Women Project: I am researching the public lives of rural women in a small county in South Dakota during the frontier era, 1880-1920, as the topic of my master’s thesis in Public History at the University … Continue reading

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Becoming a Better Researcher

I’m on a mission to develop research management skills using technologies like Zotero. As I beta test my methodology on my master’s thesis, I’ll write about how well it works – how well it doesn’t. Blogs start July 13.

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Database Dissertation

Last week for my Digital History class I presented a digital history web site.  I chose this site because it focused on how to use a database methodology for conducting dissertation research. The Early American Foreign Service Database web site is a data visualization of a scholarly dissertation. Jean Bauer, while in the PhD program at the University of Virginia, created a relational database for her study about the nature of the Early American Foreign Service. As a result of this and other similar projects, Bauer designed and built Project Quincy, “a Django application with a MySQL that uses information about people, places, and organizations to trace how social networks and institutions develop over time and through space.”[1] Django is a web development framework and MySQL is a relational database tool. While this web site holds some interest for those studying the American Foreign Service, it is more interesting in the way it provides information about the design and structure of the data model and its visualization. The general nature of the design holds promise for other scholars conducting similar projects that “connect people with other people at a particular time, in a particular place, and for a particular reason, allowing the user to map networks of correspondence, the growth (or decay) of organizations, kinship, patronage, and early institutional development.”[2]

The strength of this site lies in its appeal to digital historians interested in the technical aspects of developing a data model to analyze relationships between people, events, places and organizations. There is considerable detail regarding the actual design and structure, helpful for technically accomplished historians looking for such examples. It introduces Project Quincy, a publicly available code set that could be reused in a different historical project. The weakness of this website is its lack of appeal to the general public, even those interested in the topic of the Foreign Service. Missing essays, needed to provide the contextual approach, reduce the value of this site to its technical approach.

More information can be discerned by connecting to the Project Quincy website, projectquincy.org, and then to the author’s web site, www.jeanbauer.com, last updated in 2013. Bauer’s web site indicates she became the Brown University Digital Humanities Librarian in 2011. Her Twitter account is active as of March 28, 2014.

While this website provides an intriguing glimpse into a digital history project with a relational data model, integrated with web site design, the site appears to be an inactive project that was not fully completed. This project reinforces the reality that maintaining digital projects over time, without organizational structure, is a tremendous challenge.

[1] Project Quincy. http://projectquincy.org/. Accessed April 6, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

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