Teaching and doing digital history.

Capital Cases in 1850s Virginia

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series History 811: Doctoral Research

Totals of Women in VAThis semester, I’m taking my very last course in the PhD program–the Doctoral Research Seminar. The purpose of the course is to research and write a substantial paper related to our dissertations.

I’ve chosen to explore the circumstances of capital cases involving women in Virginia in the 1850s. As seen in this graph, my research thus far leads me to believe that the largest volume of Virginia’s women were executed in this decade. I’d like to understand why.

My driving questions are as follows:

  • What are the circumstances of cases in which women were executed in the 1850s. What of the women who were pardoned or acquitted?
  • Are there trends or patterns that I can identify among and between these crimes?
  • Are these crimes/outcomes affected at all by the changing social and political situation in Virginia in the decade? Are there other macro circumstances that influence these trials?
  • Can I draw any conclusions about the effect gender, race, and class had on capital crime in Virginia in this decade? Are there specific constructions of deviance that influence the outcome of cases involving women in Virginia at this time?

Very early working argument: The thirteen slave women who were executed in Virginia in the 1850s had a larger burden to bear in the courtroom than their white sisters in crime. Due to the unsteady nature of master-slave relations in the Old Dominion during this decade, the murder of a member of the master’s family–as each of these cases represents–proved too threatening to manage on the plantation. Once the courts were involved, the possible mitigating circumstances in each of these individual murders were irrelevant.

I’ve made contact with the archivist in charge of local papers at the Virginia Archives and he’s helping me to identify the best way to answer these questions. I’ll begin my research with the papers of Governors John Floyd, Joseph Johnson, and Henry Wise to help me identify those cases where pardons were requested, and either accepted or denied. (The courts were required to send complete capital case files to the governor to review for pardoning reasons, so these records should be pretty robust.) Once I’ve identified cases by name, I can do a more thorough newspaper and county records search. From there, I’ll work my way out to identify cases in which the defendant women were acquitted. Admittedly, these will be more difficult and time consuming to find, but I’ll see what I can do in a semester.

If I find I have too much information to complete this study in a semester, I’ll dial it back to compare two locales–probably Richmond and Culpeper county, based on the initial research I have.

At some point, I’ll have digital components to share–hopefully a database and some visuals of the trends I find. Either way, I’ll document my progress here, so stay tuned.

An Exploration of Gender, Society, and Law in America

This fall, I’ll be working with Dr. Sharon Leon to finish my minor field on gender, law, and society in America. In the spirit of open scholarly communication, I thought it prudent to share my initial thoughts on this minor field, what I will be reading, and what I hope to accomplish.

I will be examining the public and private legal experiences of men, women, and children in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Building on the argument that the family was the center of private life in the nineteenth century, I am approaching this study from the position that the family was also frequently a site of public, and often violent, legal contention.1 I am interested specifically in how men and women interacted with the American legal system in these centuries, not only in regards to domestic law, but also in how social expectations rooted in gender norms and the family defined criminal behavior in general.2

In order to understand this complex history, I am making the methodological choice to use intersectionality as the basis of my study, which will allow me to focus on social and legal institutions in America using a gender/race/class lens. Concepts of criminality, deviance, and propriety have been constructed differently for men and women of different races, classes, and ethnicities. Thus, the boundaries of acceptable behavior have changed depending on ideals of proper manhood or womanhood and illuminate deeper anxieties in American society during this time. Crime, especially violent crime committed by women within the family or the domestic sphere, has inspired a range of complex cultural, social, and institutional responses that had a direct impact on power and gender relations in American history.

The responses to violent women, specifically, can tell us much about how all women were perceived with regard to actual and potential criminal behavior. As such, I plan to explore women as both agents and victims of the shifting philosophies of punishment and rehabilitation, including the changing ideologies of prison reformers and the state, and of the professionalization of psychiatry and social work. I also plan to examine approaches to common law and domestic violence as they were rooted in patriarchal control of the family, paying special attention to the prescribed roles of women and children. I’m hoping that by grounding my study in gender theory and the history of the family, I’ve organized my readings to provide a rich foundation upon which I may pursue my dissertation research.

Gender Theory & History

  • Levit & Verchick, Feminist Legal Theory: A Primer (NYU Press, 2006)
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, (Routledge, 2006)
  • Gerda Lerner, “Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges,” Feminist Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1/2 (Autumn, 1975), pp. 5-14
  • Gerda Lerner, “Reconceptualizing Differences Among Women,” Journal of Women’s History, Volume 1, Number 3, Winter 1990
  • Joan W. Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5 (Dec., 1986), pp. 1053-1075
  • Joan W. Scott, Gender and the Politics of History, (Columbia, 1999)
  • Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America, (Oxford, 1985)
  • Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, (Routledge, 2000)
  • Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” Signs, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Winter, 1992), 251-274
  • Barbara Melosh, Gender and American History since 1890 (Routledge, 1993)

Family & Sexuality

  • Sharon Ullman, Sex Seen: The Emergence of Modern Sexuality in America
  • Howard Chudacoff, The Age of the Bachelor: Creating an American Subculture
  • George Chauncy, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, (Basic, 1994)
  • Madelon Powers, Faces Along the Bar: Lore and Order in the Workingman’s Saloon, 1870-1920
  • Jessica L. Weiss, To Have and to Hold: Marriage, the Baby Boom and Social Change
  • Beth Bailey, Sex in the Heartland

Crime & Punishment in America

  • Lawrence M. Friedman, Crime and Punishment in American History, (Basic Books, 1993)
  • Edward Ayers, Vengeance & Justice: Crime and Punishment in the 19th-Century American South, (Oxford University Press, 1984)
  • Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish, (Vintage, 1995)
  • Michel Foucault, Madness & Civilization: A History of Insanity in an Age of Reason, (Vintage, 1988)

Women & Their Rights

  • Joan Hoff, Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women, (NYU Press, 1994)
  • Nina Auerbach, The Woman and the Demon: The Life of a Victorian Myth, (Harvard, 1984)
  • Linda Kerber, No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship, (Hill & Wang, 1998)
  • Nancy Cott, “Marriage and Women’s Citizenship in the United States, 1830-1934,” American Historical Review 103 (1998): 1440-1474
  • Barbara Young Welke, Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law, and the Railroad Revolution, 1865-1920 (Cambridge, 2001)

Crime Literature & Coverage

  • Karen Halttunen, Murder Most Foul: The Killer in the American Gothic Imagination, (Harvard, 1998)
  • Suzanne Lebsock, A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial (WW Norton, 2004)
  • Michael Ayers Trotti, The Body in the Reservoir: Murder & Sensationalism in the Old South

Institutions I: Police, Courts, & Prisons

  • L. Mara Dodge, Whores and Thieves of the Worst Kind: A Study of Women, Crime and Prisons, 1835-2000, (Northern Illinois, 2006)
  • Cornelia Hughes Dayton, Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789, (University of North Carolina Press, 1995)
  • Eric H. Monkkonen, Police in Urban America, 1860-1920, (Cambridge, 1981)
  • Michael Willrich, City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago, (Cambridge, 2003)
  • Nicole Hahn Rafter, Partial Justice: Women, Prisons, and Social Control. 2d ed. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1990)
  • Estelle Freedman, Their Sisters’ Keepers: Women’s Prison Reform in America, 1830-1930, (U Michigan Press, 1984)

Institutions II: Insanity & Asylums

  • Benjamin Reiss, Theaters of Madness: Insane Asylums & Nineteenth Century American Culture, (Chicago, 2008)
  • James W. Trent, Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation in the United States (UC Press, 1995)
  • Ian Dowbiggin, Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada, 1880-1940 (Cornell UP, 1997)
  • Nicole Hahn Rafter, Creating Born Criminals (U of Illinois Press, 1998)
  • Steven Noll, Feeble-mindedness in Our Midst: Institutions for the Mentally Retarded in the South, 1900-1940 (UNC Press, 1995)
  • Janet A. Tighe, “Francis Wharton and the Nineteenth-Century Insanity Defense: The Origins of a Reform Tradition,” The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jul., 1983), pp. 223-253
  • Carole Haber, The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West, (UNC Press, 2013)

Identifying a Criminal & Expert Testimony

  • Simon Cole, Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification, (Harvard, 2001)
  • James Mohr, Doctors and the Law: Medical Jurisprudence in Nineteenth-Century America, (Johns Hopkins, 1993)
  • Charles E. Rosenberg, Trial of the Assassin Guiteau: Psychiatry and the Law in the Gilded Age (1968)

Domestic Law & Violence

  • Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth Century America, (U North Carolina Press, 1985)
  • Hendrik Hartog, “Lawyering, Husbands’ Rights, and ‘The Unwritten Law,’ in Nineteenth-Century America,” Journal of American History (1997)
  • Linda Gordon, Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, (Univ of Illinois Press, 1988)
  • Elaine Forman Crane, Witches, Wifebeaters, & Whores: Common Law and Common Folk in Early America, (Cornell University Press, 2011)
  • John Ruston Pagan, Anne Orthwood’s Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia, (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Criminal Behavior & Construction of Deviance

  • Leslie Reagan, When Abortion was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and the Law, 1867-1973, (Berkeley, 1997)
  • Elaine Abelson, When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middle Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store, (Oxford, 1989)
  • Cheree Carlson, The Crimes of Womanhood: Defining Femininity in a Court of Law, (University of Illinois Press, 2008)
  • Kali N. Gross, Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910 (2006)
  • Philip Schwartz, Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865, (LSU Press, 1988)
  • Timothy J. Gilfoyle, A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York, (WW Norton, 2006)

Homicide

  • Randolph Roth, American Homicide, (Harvard, 2009)
  • Lisa Duggan, Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity, (Duke, 2001)
  • Jeffrey Adler, “’I Loved Joe, But I Had to Shoot Him’: Homicide by Women in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 2003
  • Michelle Oberman, “Understanding Infanticide in Context: Mothers Who Kill 1870-1930 and Today,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 2003
  • Wilma King, “’Mad’ Enough to Kill: Enslaved Women, Murder, and Southern Courts,” The Journal of African American History, Vol. 92, No. 1, Women, Slavery, and Historical Research (Winter, 2007), pp. 37-56
  • Robert M. Ireland, “The Libertine Must Die: Sexual Dishonor and the Unwritten Law in the Nineteenth-Century United States,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Autumn, 1989), pp. 27-44

Juvenile Delinquency

  • Patricia Cline Cohen, “Unregulated Youth: Masculinity and Murder in the 1830s City,” Radical History Review 52 (1992): 33-52
  • Mary Odem, Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920, (Univ North Carolina Press, 1995)
  • Joseph Hawes, Children in Urban Society: Juvenile Delinquency in Nineteenth-Century America, (Oxford, 1971)
  • Anne Knupfer, Reform and Resistance: Gender, Delinquency, and America’s First Juvenile Court (Routledge, 2001)

Capital Punishment

  • Stuart Banner, The Death Penalty: An American History, (Harvard, 2003)
  • Victor Streib, The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio, (Ohio U Press, 2006)
  • Victor Streib, Death Penalty for Juveniles, (Indiana U Press, 1987)
  • Louis P. Masur, Rites of Execution: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 1776-1865, (Oxford University Press, 1991)
  • John D. Bessler, Death in the Dark: Midnight Executions in America, (Northeastern, 1998)
  • Annulla Linders, “The Execution Spectacle and State Legitimacy: The Changing Nature of the American Execution Audience, 1833-1937,” Law & Society Review, Vol. 36, No. 3 (2002), pp. 607-656

 


  1. See Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth Century America, (University of North Carolina Press, 1985), ix. Grossberg argued that the center of domestic relations in the nineteenth century consisted of a “complex and vital relationship between two primary spheres of experience: the family and the law.” []
  2. Barbara Melosh argued that the gendered discourse not only regulated the social behavior of men and women in sexuality, family, and work, but also became a way to maintain hierarchies of all kinds. “Gender describes a fundamental understanding of difference that organizes and produces other relationships of difference—of power and inequality.” Thus, I am applying these hierarchies to a spectrum of criminal behavior. Barbara Melosh, Gender and American History Since 1890 (Routledge, 1993), 5. []

Great Expectations

I had partial success with my mapping project this weekend.

I had originally planned to map each state with little popup boxes showing details on the numbers for each state. It turns out that I greatly underestimated both my skills with JSON files and the Google APIv3 for maps.

But let me back up. I did have success mapping multiple points on a map. I also successfully mapped a point on a map with a detail window on click (click on the marker to see the details.) However, when I tried to map multiple points on a map with detail boxes, that’s where the train went off the rails.

Apparently, the Google Maps API has issues with looping through a long list of details to set markers and info boxes. It only pulls the last info box in the list. There are a nice bunch of tutorials on how to fix the issue, BUT since I am not as well schooled in javascript and calling JSON information, I could not get it to work.. although I did try. My attempt to get it to work is avail here and frankly, I think it’s a big old mess. For one, I’m not sure how to call the separate JSON file. [The tutorial I was using is here. I have his book and his examples were working well for me up until this point, which makes me think it’s a js/json problem.]

For reference, here is my JSON data.

 

I’ll continue to try to debug and hack at it to get it to work, but I’m finding the online documentation only partially helpful. One big problem is that I’m not totally confident that I know how to code the start and end to each file. So when I find code snippets of “solutions” to common problems, I’m not entirely sure where to put the code. Since the order is really important, I’m sure I have some things out of order.

Full code examples would be more helpful so that I can see it in context, but I know this is a learning curve problem, and that it will diminish with time. These “help” blog posts are written for experienced coders and right now I’m a hack at best. So for the time being, I’m embracing my hack status and putting this to the side as a problem for another day.

Averting Distraction and Thinking Ahead

Sometimes you aren’t as productive as you’d like to be. Fred warned us that this class might do that, so I’m taking it as part of the territory. This week I ignored the urge to scrap my entire site and rebuild it using the fancy new tools in my toolkit. I admit that redesigning websites seems to be brain candy to me. Make it pretty. Make it blue. Make it different. I’d like to re-engineer my information architecture so that I group pages more thoughtfully. I would like to use includes so that I don’t need to update every single page any time I make a change to the footer, but getting them to work is going to take more time than I have right now. I’d like to add in a Creative Commons license. I resisted all of this; it can all wait until after the semester is over.

So instead I thought ahead to the Mapping tutorial I have to do in a couple of weeks. I realized I need to get re-acquainted with the Google API and that’s where I stopped. Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to tonight’s web scraping tutorial and this weekend I’ll spend more time on the API, then I’ll design my tutorial.

Ebbs and flows of productivity, right?

Getting Answers from Your Data

My assignment this week was was to run the queries I “designed” last week. (*I am, of course, using the term “design” very loosely, as last week was full of hand wringing and general PHP consternation.)

This week, I ran 4 total queries. I am pretty happy with how they turned out:

  1. Total numbers of executions of women with details and counts by race and crime.
  2. Counts of executions of women by state.
  3. Details of executions of women in Virginia with details and counts by race and crime.
  4. Counts of executions of women by year.

I had hoped not only to pull results, but also to display them in a way that made sense. The two biggest challenges proved to be pulling details from each execution into a table and displaying the count for individual variables in the state, year, race and crime fields. Because of the nature of what I was trying to learn, I found my PHP code remained relatively simple, whereas my SQL queries got increasingly more complicated.

Tables

I pulled some code from Jeri and from an online tutorial, but when I ran the php, I was creating an individual table for each row of results. By removing the HTML for the table and header rows from the PHP and using generic html tags, I was able to create one large table.

[sourcecode language=”css”]

<p><h2>Details</h2></p>
<p>Details of all the executions of women, in chronological order.</p>
<p><table border=’1′ cellpadding=’10’>
<tr><th>First Name</th><th>Last Name</th><th>Crime</th><th>Method</th><th>State</th><th>Year</th></tr>

<?php

/* Requery # of women total */
$result = mysql_query("SELECT * FROM executions WHERE sex=’F’ ORDER BY executions.year ASC ", $connection);
if (!$result) {
die("Database query failed: ");
}

/* Organize results of Query into a table */
while($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)) {

// set up a row for each record
echo "<tr>";
echo "<td>" . $row[‘first’] . "</td>";
echo "<td>" . $row[‘last’] . "</td>";
echo "<td>" . $row[‘crime’]. "</td>";
echo "<td>" . $row[‘method’]. "</td>";
echo "<td>" . $row[‘state’]. "</td>";
echo "<td>" . $row[‘year’]. "</td>";
echo "</tr>";

}

?>

</table></p>

[/sourcecode]

Counts and Group By

The other queries were created with complex mysql queries. A fun little function in PHPMyAdmin “show PHP” allowed me to see how the query worked. From there I was able to figure out how to phrase the query and the order in which it should appear. To be honest, this was a long process of trial and error, but once I got the syntax, it is easy to cut and paste and adapt for all of my complex queries.

Thanks to Laura for showing me how to phrase my search, I was able to do some Googling to find good examples of successful Count and Grouped queries.

[sourcecode language=”css”]
<?php
/* Query # of women by race in Virginia */
$result = mysql_query("SELECT crime, count(crime) AS crimeCount FROM executions WHERE sex=’F’ AND state=’VA’ GROUP BY crime ORDER BY crimeCount DESC", $connection);
if (!$result) {
die("Database query failed: ");
}

/* Answer */
while($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)){
echo ($row[‘crime’]) . ": " . ($row[‘crimeCount’]) . "<br />";

}
?>
[/sourcecode]

I was surprised by several of the results that came back. I’m now really looking forward to visualizing these results!

Asking Questions of Your Data

Now that my data is normalized and I have a good idea of what is contained in my database, it’s time to start asking questions of my data. What do I want to know? Which queries are only for me? Which would I like to embed into a web page? While they don’t seem like tough questions, it is beginning to dawn on me that my issues with PHP may be more than just a learning curve. It isn’t so much the learning of the language (although, I am struggling with that), it’s also the fact that I don’t sit down and think about what I want it to do BEFORE I start coding.

I dive right in, copy examples and start changing variables and functions without even thinking about what I want it to do, let alone what this code snippet was programmed to do. The maddening part of PHP is that it’s so personal and subjective–each coder has written into the code their own logic and language. What is mine?

<crickets>

Honestly, I don’t know. I do know the questions I want to ask.

  1. How many women were executed in the United States?
  2. For what crimes? (Cluster the crimes)
  3. In what states? (Cluster both the state numbers AND the crimes by state)
  4. Are there any moments in time where there were an abnormally large group of women executed?
  5. Are there any states in which more women were executed over others?
  6. What of Virginia? What happened here?
  7. What overall trends can I see?
  8. What is missing?

Some of these questions are really specific and easy to both code and show. Others are not. All of this is to say that I’m still working on figuring this out. I admit that this “paralysis by analysis” affected my productivity this week. My output wasn’t what I had been hoping. Still, this is all part of the process, right? Right?

PHP Tango

Oh PHP. How you vex me.

Our assignment this week was to play with PHP, specifically to create a working data entry form using HTML, PHP and MySQL. I can report that, with very generous help from my Clio class, I did all of that.

My simple, but working form is here.
My simple, but functional PHP code is here.

I’m still not sure I totally understand WHY it works. I am told this is natural and to be expected. That with time and increased familiarity, my comprehension will improve. I look forward to that day. I will continue to plug away at it if you promise me you won’t judge or mock me for doing a happy dance every time I can actually make something work.

Deal?

Managing the Uglier Side of Historic Research

Immersing yourself in 19th century crime, death, autopsies, forensics, and executions can make you forget that you’re actually studying people. Who died. Violently. Often painfully. And before they were “supposed” to.

I often liken it to the gallows humor that homicide detectives, FBI agents, medical examiners, and first responders all tend to develop. When you witness the worst of human nature, I’m told you come up with ways to cope. I readily admit, I am neither homicide detective nor medical examiner; I am a historian. And all historians are supposed to keep a healthy distance from our subjects. If we can remain objective, can we also keep the human element? (With all due respect to Peter Novick, I don’t think  objectivity is entirely dead.) Can we empathize enough to find the heart–the humans–in the narrative? Can we disassociate ourselves from the nastier side of human history to find a broader meaning in how we got here?

This semester, I’m working on a database project for one of my classes. That database happens to contain all (well, a majority) of the sanctioned executions in the United States. I really just started and until today, the “data” had been a series of meaningless numbers attached to names and dates. Today, I undertook a massive “normalization” project wherein I took those numbers that had no meanings and applied meanings to them. For example, using the data dictionary (the handy document that usually accompanies large data sets,) I changed all the 1’s in the “crime” column to “murder,” as that is the crime that that particular integer represents. I changed all the 1’s in the “method” column to “hanging,” and so on and so forth. My database has all the typical columns one might find in a collection of historic information–names, ages, places, dates, race, sex. It also contains the type of crimes committed by the executees and how they met their demise. And this is where I paused.

I expected to see murder, rape, kidnapping, witchcraft, piracy, even horse thieving. I wasn’t prepared for the other crimes in the database, such as “aiding a runaway slave,” “concealing birth,” or “slave revolt.” I’m not naive. I know these things happened and I know that people were punished for doing them. It’s one thing to know they were punished, it’s quite another to know that the state sanctioned execution for these crimes. When you put these crimes next to someone’s name and realize that helping another human being find freedom cost a man his life. With one click of the mouse, the reality of the sacrifices made by some in the name of others hit me. And I wasn’t prepared for it.

The methods of execution were just as troubling. Integrated among the hangings, lethal injections, and electrocutions were pressing, gibbetting, burning, death by firing squad, and breaking on a wheel. Breaking on a wheel is a particularly horrific brand of torture from the Middle Ages. In this case, between 1712 and 1754, in French-controlled Louisiana and New York, eight African-Americans and four white men were “broken” on the wheel.

History is messy. And often gut-wrenching.

I was told by several of my advisers that undertaking this type of project would be emotionally difficult at times. One told me of a colleague and friend who studies historical cases of suicide and how she manages during those times when she has to record and analyze particularly explicit primary sources. As I dive deeper and deeper into the line of inquiry that I’ve chosen, I’ll have to come up with my own methods to cope with the messiness.

I can only hope that my studies of crime, particularly by women and children, and their resulting acquittals or punishments will help shed some light on our past, on our shifting concepts of “reasonable doubt,” and hopefully, how these concepts affect the issues we face today. That’s my goal. Until then, I’ll endeavor to find that healthy balance of objectivity AND humanity that seems to coexist effortlessly in the professionals I hope to emulate.

 

Adventures in Programming

My third year as a PhD student began this week and I’m excited to be taking both Feminist Philosophy & Theory and Programming for Historians. (There’s something ironic and fun about reading The Second Sex in the same week that I’m learning how to create my own databases from scratch.)

As part of our assignment for Clio 3, as we’re affectionately calling our programming class, we’ll be creating technical tutorials for programminghistorian.org. There’ll be a wide variety of topics from my classmates including, creating databases, PHP, web scraping and theory modeling, among others. I’m on the hook for mapping and data visualization, so I’ll be sure to post links to those when they go up. In the meantime, I’ll be putting my development successes and failures in Sandbox.. for all to see. God help me.

Commenting Week of March 1

Turns out Zayna and I are in the same boat with color – red to be precise, which is a fabulous color, but difficult to use correctly. I also commented on Clay’s discussion of color, which in my mind sparked a “what’s better” debate: good content on a non-designed site or gorgeous design and so-so content? I think even online, content has to remain “king.” The “history” has to remain. It should be well-researched, well-thought out and well-argued. But I also think a site needs to present the content in a compelling way. Since I tend to lean towards clean sites with a lot white, honing my eye for design is something I will have to work on.

I also gave Lisa some feedback on her text assignment and commented on Jon’s post on visual explanations.