Week 13

In one of our last classes we were working in our Omeka accounts today. Omeka is the website we are using to build the website for our soldier. In today’s class we went step-by-step in how to best utilize Omeka’s functions and capabilities. We discussed in class how we first would choose to break our soldier’s story into sections and then subsequently proceeded to actually creating the digital sections on the Omeka website. These function will make navigating through the website easier for viewers because they can read and research certain specific aspects of each of our soldier’s lives now. We are required to have a minimum of three separate sections of our soldier’s life represented in our Omeka website.

For my soldier, Amos Phillips, I thought it would be best to divide the information I have collected on him into the following three sections: military service, life after the civil war, and a final section on his family. I chose these specific topics for my three sections because it is where I have the most wealth of information on Amos Phillips. Many other students in class chose to do a section on their soldier’s life before the civil war but since I don’t have very much information, other than that he was a farmer, I chose to discuss his family instead. There is solid information on his mother, father, and wife. Also, his military service was extensively recorded through muster rolls, medical records, and other sources. Then, I will finally conclude chronologically with his life after the civil war because I have records of his time spent after his service. He faced several medical troubles and I think that ending the project with his the date and information I have of his death will be the best full circle representation I can create.

Week 12

Today in class we discussed the concept of text mining. Text mining is also called data mining sometimes and helps people to extract valuable information from a lengthy text or document. The program and concept of text mining has several pros and cons to its use. When analyzing lengthy online information its purposes can be useful for dissecting the information. Text mining has been a developing tool for online users and researchers. Major corporations and companies have utilized text mining for its innovative benefits.

In class we discussed several instances where you can utilize text mining. For this blog post we were asked to compare and contrast text mining a document versus reading a document. First and foremost, I think that one of the most beneficial aspects to using text mining is that is provides a visual of your data. The data can be categorized and presented in terms of its frequency and repetition. This type of differentiation can help researchers to better see and understand patterns that may develop in a text, spikes of information, and identify outliers. On the other hand, if you read the document that you are reviewing you will have a first hand understanding of the information. In comparison, if you simply use text mining on a document then you trust the technology completely. Keep in mind; no program is without its errors and glitches. While there have been several great advances in the technology of text mining, specifically by Google, no system is perfect. Still, after text mining the website we were provided in class I got to experience the convenience in using it. I believe that if a text is too lengthy to comprehend through traditional reading than text mining can be useful. Also, if you can utilize text mining for its intended purposes and understand the boundaries in using then it is worthwhile.

11th Week

Today in class we all learned the in’s and the out’s of digital mapping. This process is particular and takes a keen attention to detail. When considering all that a people does in just one day it is quite a lot of important information to collect. Also, the visual of someone’s life is always easier to understand than the verbal because it gives people something to look at rather than imagine. Now to chronologically represent someone’s life on a digital map you need to be patient and decisive in your choices of life events. You could create a digital of someone’s life with someone they did every day but this would be unrealistic for developers. Instead, we learned in class how to decide what we should record and categorize into a digital map.

I think after seeing the information of my soldier put into a digital map I understand his journey more than before. However, the process in creating a digital map can be quite tasking. The aspects one must consider during the creation of a digital map are minuet. Still, it is better to provide a visual than not to provide one. After seeing the benefits of creating a digital map I believe that it is a worthy component to my project. Amos Phillips’ life is keenly important for our nation’s history. Therefore, when developing this project I want to represent him and his story properly. Beyond that I think it is also important to create a project that pays respect to the soldier who fought so hard so our nation in the Civil War. It is due to their efforts that we are the Unites States and I emphasize united in this statement. All in all, the addition of a digital map will be appropriate and useful in my project.

10th Week

For our blog post this week we were asked to chronicle some every day activities through a website called Daytum. This website, Daytum, provides a way to log data that occurs frequently. We downloaded the app in class to see how the program functioned. You can record tons of different information about your daily habits and routines. We, as a class, decided to try and record on Daytum how often we drank a beverage, changed cloths, and talked with people. The concept behind Daytum is a bit eerie to me. I would prefer to not dwell on how often I repeat the same behavior because after conducting the experiment and recording the data daily the results were staggering and always more than I expected.

Furthermore, I thought that the app wasn’t very user-friendly and could have been simplified to become an easier process. Also, the use of the information is not very feasible or in my opinion necessarily consistent. What I mean by this is that I think my daily routine, in terms of what we recorded, can not be properly represented within just a fews days. I think to have an accurate representation the recording of this data would have to go on for quite a while. In class, we discussed a man who has been recording in this way for years. He recorded data of every thing he did every single day for years. Now, while this would be the most accurate way to create a logical and accurate line of information I don’t think the a level of user error is being considered. How often was this man forgetful? What accountability can he be held to? Could he be falsifying data? These are just some of the questions that I think correlate with our discussions in class about the dangers of online information.

9th Week

In class today, we set up our Omeka accounts, which we will use to create our soldier’s website. This service is not only free but will be essential in collecting and constructing a visually appropriate representation of our soldier’s life. On this website we will create a timeline of information of our soldier’s wartime efforts and also the life he had lived after he was discharged from the army. We created two more Google doc spreadsheets for this purpose of organizing information on our soldier’s life during and after the army. In addition, we were instructed as to how we can add items to our Omeka account to include an image of the document and necessary and descriptive texts with it.

After class we were asked to add two additional items to our Omeka websites. I choose to add a Physician’s Adjunct and one of the several Muster Rolls that my soldier, Amos Phillips was recorded on. The Physician’s record accounted some of my soldier’s medical trouble and extensive history during and prior to joining the army. This specific document of information was used in Amos Phillip’s pension application. I used Google Docs transcript function to better read my document and found out that the signing physician had been caring for Amos for thirty plus years. This adds credibility to the knowledge he holds of my soldier’s medical history. I also choose to add the first record of Amos Phillips on a Muster Roll for the 44th infantry because it is the first in a long line of Muster Roll records. Therefore, I will know where to start from and when he was first accounted for and in attendance. My soldier seemed to be absent during several muster roll calls because of medical issues. Now that I have this account set up on Omeka I can start to create my project visually starting from the beginning of Amos Phillip’s service.

8th Week

This week in class we all took our midterm evaluation. The exam was challenging but I felt satisfied with my responses to the short answer questions. After class we worked on creating a new Google Doc for our civil war soldier research. The research includes important information on our soldiers such as their historical ties to specific dates and events. For the Google Doc we were asked to create columns for the date, place, what was he doing there, and source for every piece of information.

These pieces of information will be key in constructing a more accurate image of our soldiers. These soldiers are more than just the basic information we have been collecting lately such as height, weight, hair color, etc. And not to take away from that information because it is important to best create a physical image of each person. However, I measure the worth of a person in the choices he or she makes and their subsequent actions. In addition, our soldiers have done some remarkable things for our country during this pivotal time of the Civil War. For instance, I recall that someone in my group that also has a soldier from the 44th Infantry who was responsible for being a drummer boy for the infantry. The image of him and my specific soldier, Amos Phillips, marching through battles and fighting for the unity of our country is amazing. I hope to continue to best create and represent Amos Phillips to a respectable representation.

7th Week

Today in class, we learned the importance of online security. The content that will all collect and create online is both grand and often sensitive information. We discussed whether or not we each personally archive or back up information from our online matter and devices. We asked about email, contacts, and social media content. Personally, I do not archive emails because I try to keep my inbox as clear as possible so that I can focus on what is time sensitive and important. I didn’t even know that you could archive many of the things we discussed like social media. I guess since I was aware of the ability to do so that that social media is one thing that I don’t archive. Now, in regards to backing up and saving our online information I believe that I save the important things. For example, I am very careful to keep all of my personal and professional contacts of record and saved successfully. This is because once I lost all of my contacts and it is just a hassle to collect them all from each individual person.


Later, we discussed online security and passwords. We learned the importance of not using personal information not only for the actual password but also the security questions. For instance, nowadays it can be relatively easy to retrieve information like a person’s mother’s maiden name, with services and outlets like ancestory.com and Google. Personally, I have a few different passwords that are completely random words that I change with numbers and symbols. I never discuss or share them with anywhere and also they are not written anywhere accessible. However, in regards to the security questions I have answered them before but that is solely out of their necessity to successfully create a password for certain accounts. All in all, I learned a lot of important everyday information from this class meeting.

6th week

Today in class we discussed the important and useful aspects to a system called Zotero. Zotero is a system that you can download and add to certain Internet browsers. After the application is installed you can use it to collect resources such as sources for research papers and projects. I have used the program before for one other class but it has been a while since that class and my exposure to the program. Therefore, Zotero has already been added to my computer on Firefox. I plan to use Zotero to collect the multiple sources I will collect for my Civil War soldier project. Zotero will be a great resource for this specific project because there are numerous amounts of sources that will need to be collected. Simply given the number of sources and information to keep track of, Zotero will be good for this project.

Also, in class, we discussed secondary sources and the characteristics and advantages that they can provide. Secondary sources in comparison to primary sources are inherently different. In my opinion and preference, I would prefer to mostly use primary sources due to there first hand accounts and validity. Still, these secondary sources will add valuable information to the process. In my use of Zotero I have collected a few for my soldier, Amos Phillips, and his unit the 44th Infantry from New York. In class, we discussed the importance of looking for patterns and topics that connect. For example, if a unit stays with an unhealthy amount of other soldier in close spaces then one should intuitively look for subsequent medical records explaining transferred diseases. I know that for my soldier, Amos Phillips, a lot of his records are medical inspections and even his muster roll confirms that he was taken out of battle due to illness. These are just a few things that I continue to look forward to discovering.

5th Week, (4th week = snow day)

Today, in class we further discussed how to find research on our Civil War soldier and interpret it. The subjects varied from discussing copyright laws to identifying primary sources. Both of which, I had little to no experience with beforehand so the information was quite helpful. For instance, I never knew that any information printed before 1923 cannot and does not have an up to date or valid copyright to it. This piece of information is quite beneficial to our research of our Civil War soldiers because it precedes the 1923 cutoff date.

Later in class we learned a very cool trick to better read and collect the data on our transcriptions for our soldier. Using Google it is possible, to a degree, to extract the words of a document and place them in word document like format. Since we have several transcriptions with tiny writing this practice will be quite helpful during the research process. I can now have each transcription be added to a list on my Google Drive that will contain every piece of information that is cable of this process. Now, this process is not perfect and has flaws. The translation is not always perfectly transferred correctly. For instance, on a pension form Google made the word “pension” to “pensicn.” However, I think it is acceptable and only right to expect some level of error to be made in this process by Google. All in all though, it will be very helpful in creating a profile for my soldier.

Lastly, near the end of class we met in groups that were divided by those of us who had soldiers from the same unit. So I met with three other students who also had a soldier from the 44th Infantry from New York. Then, as a group, we researched for all of the websites and information on our unit that we could and compiled a list on a shared Google Drive. We learned some interesting things like the battles that were fought by our Unit. Also, the most interesting thing I found was that our unit actually has a memorial at one site. Things are progressing well and I can’t wait to learn more about Amos Phillips and the 44th Infantry from New York.

3rd week

We got our soldiers! Today in class we received the names of the soldiers that we will be researching for the duration of the semester. I find this assignment very different in a good and interesting way. I think it will be fascinating to collect and compile the history of a man who served and fought during the Civil War. The reason being, we are starting our research with just a name and a file of records that have been scanned. The final product is something I think I will always be proud of.

My soldier’s name is Amos Phillips. I hope to research, find, and understand as much of his past as I can. There were several copies of scanned information and sources that were in my file on Amos Phillips. I believe that during class I looked through easily over a hundred documents. The frustration in this research is honestly just trying to read and understand the handwriting. I have never been good at reading cursive but needless to say this project will help improve that weakness.

All of the records I received on Amos Phillips range from very important enlisting dates to hand written letters. In addition, there are medical records and muster calls throughout the file. I found it interesting in fact that several of the medical records were not fully completed or filled out. When I was trying to collect basic information like hair color, eye color, and physical traits of that nature those sections of the medical forms were left blank. This was very frustrating because now I will probably never be able to know the basic appearance of my soldier. Regardless, I hope to compile an accurate depiction of his time of service. I hope that I can do justice to the name of man who contributed to such an influential part of United States history.