About

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry. eHistory's first project was IndianNation, a crowdsource/mapping project that geolocates the 237,000 Native Americans captured in the 1900 census (the historic low point of the native population). Since then, eHistory has become a sort of digital collective -- a diverse group of scholars seeking to learn from each other as we experiment and rally on certain forms and formats of digital scholarship. eHistory is a research cluster of UGA's Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, a core department of the Georgia Informatics Institute, and a founding member of UGA's DigiLab.


Projects in Production

Invasion of America. (Saunt). Between 1776 and the present, the United States seized roughly an eighth of the habitable world by treaty and executive order. eHistory's interactive map displaying that processing -- with links to every land cession and treaty -- launched in 2015 and quickly went viral, garnering views in every country where Google does analytics, receiving positive press from Slate, Vox, the London Daily Mail, and a host of other online venues. The Chronicle of Higher Education called Invasion "a lesson in the power of public history, and a case study for a profession grappling with how to encourage and evaluate digital experimentation." Chosen for inclusion in the White House's ConnectED initiative, the site received another national mention in The New York Times in reference to protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. Saunt captured the importance of the project in Aeon, which noted that "the story of Native American dispossession is too easily swept aside, but new visualisations should make it unforgettable."

CSI:Dixie. (Berry). Launched in 2016, CSI:Dixie aims to digitize and datafy every extant coroner's report from nineteenth-century South Carolina. In late 2013, a pilot version of the project won an $85,000 Digital Innovation Award from the American Council of Learned Societies and was featured at the ACLS annual meeting in a panel devoted to "Emerging Themes and Methods of Humanities Research." It has also received an ACLS Digital Extension Award to continue its work. More than a simple online repository, the project was conceived as an experiment in scholarly form -- a "deconstructed" monograph, pulled apart and put back together in a form more conducive to the web-an argument bearing on its back the archive out of which it was being written and rewritten in a scholarly process left open, contingent, and exposed. Early notices were favorable. Slate described CSI:Dixie as a "beautifully conceived and profoundly mournful new digital history site"; The New York Times included it in a small roundup of online projects offering rare but telling glimpses into the lives of the enslaved; the Journal of the Civil War Era called CSI:Dixie a "terrific example of how big data, record keeping, and the monotonous work of archiving can be communicated to the public with respect, empathy, and sentiment"; and Family Tree Magazine named CSI:Dixie one of the Best U.S. Genealogy Websites in 2016, citing its "out of this world … design, ease of use and clever organization." The research has also been presented on C-SPAN and a host of other venues.

Private Voices. (Berry, Ellis, and Montgomery). Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of Americans wrote the only letters they ever wrote in their lives, compensating for a distance from their family they had never contemplated. Private Voices a collects tens-of-thousands of letters written by Civil War soldiers who wrote "by ear"; instead of writing grammatically-correct English, these "transitionally literate" men used their imperfect understanding of letter sounds to capture their feelings about the war. Painstakingly collected by Professor Michael Ellis and his students, the resulting corpus is a linguistic bonanza: a body of evidence that captures the dialect and pronunciation of the under-educated classes of the Civil War generation. The project is a bonanza for historians as well. Almost all of these men were army privates, and their letters reveal a great deal about the lives and motivations of the Civil War's common soldiers. Discovering the first ever use of the phrase "kick ass," a writer for Slate concludes that the project "sounds pretty kick ass to me."

Mapping Occupation. (Downs and Nesbit). Mapping Occupation captures the regions where the United States Army could effectively act as an occupying force in the Reconstruction South. For the first time, it presents the basic nuts-and-bolts facts about the Army's presence, movements that are central to understanding the politics of occupation of the South. That data in turn reorients our understanding of the Reconstruction that followed Confederate surrender. Viewers can use these maps as a guide through a complex period, a massive data source, and a first step in capturing the federal government's new reach into the countryside. The project was funded in part by a Digital Innovation Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

USNewsMap.com. (Saunt). The co-creation of eHistory.org and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, USNewsMap.com allows users to search Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and visualize search results across space and time. Featured in Slate and in a Washington Post feature on "The Secret, Pre-Internet History of 'Viral' Memes," USNewsMap also won a prize in the Library of Congress's "Chronicling America Data Challenge" for its use of "digital humanities to explore and exhibit untold stories found in the Chronicling America database."

Of Methods and Madness. (Fialka). Maps of the Civil War's conventional battlefields often impose order where there was chaos. Conversely, because we have few good maps of the war's guerrilla conflict, we often think of the border conflict as anarchic and patternless. The "Of Methods and Madness" Project utilizes digital map-making technologies to find order in the apparent chaos of the guerrilla theater and to see Civil War guerrillas as they were -- organized, opportunistic, and bent on destroying the Union army and its resources.

Pox Americana. (Saunt and Fenn). Between 1775 and 1782 a smallpox epidemic swept through North America, shaping the course of the American Revolution and decimating native communities across the continent. A research and teaching tool, Pox Americana allows users to watch the epidemic unfold and read the accounts of those who witnessed (and survived) its devastating effects. The seed data for Pox Americana was compiled by University of Colorado historian Elizabeth Fenn for her book, Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82.

Fugitive Federals. (Foote). Between 1862 and 1865 thousands of Union prisoners escaped the Confederacy, often with the help of slaves. These fugitive whites, having been confined to prisons and often held to forced labor, reached Union lines with a deeper appreciation both for freedom and for the slaves who had helped them find it. In addition to documenting these stories and making them more available, Lorien Foote's "Fugitive Federals" intends to map their points and routes of escape, effectively mapping the collapse of Confederate authority as the rebellion died from within.


Projects in Development

Mapping the American Population (MAP) Project. (Saunt). Between 1500 and 1790, North America underwent a demographic revolution. Epidemic disease, dispossession, in-migration, and fertility rates combined to remake the continent. In the eighteenth century alone, the colonial population soared from 250,000 to over 5.3 million, while the Indian population declined from 1.4 million to 1.0 million. Native peoples had become a minority in their own land. The MAP Project will depict this dramatic demographic shift for the first time. In April 2018, the MAP Project received notification of a successful application for $185,176 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the "completion of a database and web platform mapping the settlement
and movement of African, Native, and European populations in North America between 1500 and 1790." [Launching 2019]

Freedmen's Teacher Project. (Berry and Butchart). Building from an exhaustive database created by Professor Ron Butchart for his book, Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876, the Freedmen's Teacher Project brings together biographical data on every teacher who worked in the freedmen's schools. Visitors may extract data on individuals or groups or contribute new data -- photos, letters, factual information, etc. -- to the database. Come learn more about one of the most heroic undertakings in the history of education. [Launching 2019].

Arresting Inequality. (Berry and Prince). Arrest records offer a remarkable portrait of criminal justice (and injustice) in the present and the past. On their face, these records would seem to capture only a single interaction between an officer of the law and one or more city residents -- between police and policed. When viewed in the aggregate, however, these moments present researchers with a wealth of legal, criminological, demographic, and geographic information. For the most part, the process of finding and transcribing these records has made them them inaccessible to all but the most devoted of researchers. Arresting Inequality collects arrest records from early 20th century New Orleans, offering visitors an opportunity to engage with these remarkable documents in a fully searchable, sortable, and (eventually) mappable format. Responding to popular interest in race, policing, and mass incarceration, this site aims to put these records in the hands of students of history, both within and beyond the academy. [Launching 2018].

Get in touch

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    University of Georgia

    Athens, GA 30602-1602
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  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

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