HESAL Post-Doctoral Researcher Dan Trepal recently co-authored an article with HESAL director Don Lafreniere and Jason Gilliland (University of Western Ontario) titled "Historical Spatial-Data Infrastructures for Archaeology: Towards a Spatiotemporal Big-Data Approach to Studying the Postindustrial City" in the journal Historical Archaeology. This article discusses the ways in which big-data GIS infrastructures for historical research, such as that underpinning the Keweenaw Time Traveler, can be useful for archaeologists who study historical cities. Archaeologists excavating urban sites are expert at revealing hidden aspects of day to day life at small scales. The paper uses examples, including several from the Time Traveler, to show how using historical big-data in a GIS-based digital infrastructure sources allows archaeologists to place their evidence of day to day life in a broader context built from many thousands of individual pieces of historical information. When combined, the archaeology and historical big data give us new perspectives on past people, places, and things that may be impossible to see when using one kind of evidence alone.
Everyone here at the Keweenaw Time Traveler would like to congratulate Antonia Burich for all of her hard work on the "Document Building Use" app. Antonia is our most dedicated citizen historian, having classified thousands of buildings! She classified 11,654 buildings for our May 2020 giveaway. Thank you Antonia for all of your commitment to the Keweenaw Time Traveler. Your work is an invaluable addition to the historical data we hope to share with the world.
The Keweenaw Time Traveler was recently awarded a Heritage Grant from the Advisory Commission of the Keweenaw National Historical Park. Funds will go towards improving the online interface in the Explore App so you can more easily find information and stories. In addition, more data sources will be made available in the Time Traveler, including census and historical school records. A big thank you to the Keweenaw National Historical Park and our collaborators at the Michigan Tech Archives for helping to make it even easier to explore the history of the Copper Country. Check back in to our blog in the coming year for more improvements!
Congrats to HESAL Research Associate Tim Stone for winning two awards at the 2020 Department of Social Sciences Graduation Celebration:
Tim was awarded the 2020 Department Scholar award for his ongoing research and scholarship on historical children's health in industrial communities.
Tim was a co-winner of the Community-Based Research Prize for his work on the 2019 Safe Routes to School Project.
Watch the ceremony below.
Is boredom building in your house? Pass the time with the Keweenaw Time Traveler! You can explore old maps of the Copper Country and transcribe hand-written details about the historic buildings you find. The information that "Citizen Historians" like you provide goes straight into the Explore App, where anyone can explore individual information about Copper Country residents from early twentieth-century city directories and business directories. Use the "Document Building Use" app and the "Transcribe the Map" app to help add data. The "Document Building Materials" app has already been completed—Thank you! To read more about these apps and how Citizen Historians have helped the Keweenaw Time Traveler, check out an earlier blog post.
This April we have relaunched #TuesdayUseDay and #TranscriptionThursday on Facebook and Twitter, and have seen an increase of up to 608 new transcriptions in one week! This work is providing valuable information that researchers and the public can use to understand the historic Copper Country's people and places. With transcription numbers skyrocketing, we want to challenge you to transcribe or document buildings in order to win Keweenaw Time Traveler prizes! If you transcribe 100 buildings we will send you a Keweenaw Time Traveler themed magnet, and if you transcribe 200 buildings we will send you a Keweenaw Time Traveler themed mug. Just send us a screenshot on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize. This Citizen Historian Giveaway will end on Thursday, May 28.
Please note that the building counter will reset if you navigate away from the page. You can take screenshots of the counter as you go and send them once they add up to 100. Additionally, any prizes won will be disinfected before being mailed. Feel free to ask for more information when sending your screenshots.
Have you filled out the 2020 Census yet? The Census provides important information for funding your community's future by providing certain population statistics. But the Census can also be an important tool for studying the past. Here at the Keweenaw Time Traveler, researchers have been working to map census records from 1870 to 1940 to the exact house where people were living. These records should be available to the public on the Explore App by the end of 2020!
You can visit our YouTube channel to learn more about how we are mapping historical census data. Researchers at the Keweenaw Time Traveler have used census data in a variety of projects, including the Francophone Migration Project and the Historical Children's Health Project. Census data provides rich household information as well as allowing us to connect multiple primary sources across time and space. How have you used the Census?
The Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab welcomed Dr. Yves Frenette (Université de Saint-Boniface) and Dr. Marc Saint-Hilaire (Université Laval) from the Three Centuries of Francophone Migration in North America (1640-1940) partnership project. Drs. Frenette and Saint-Hilaire joined MTU HESAL's Dr. Don Lafreniere and Dr. Sarah Scarlett to discuss how to construct continent-wide partnerships with academic and community partners.
Major research initiatives and funding agencies are increasingly demanding the formation of large collaborative teams and partnerships. Formal partnerships between academic researchers and community partners can advance knowledge and understanding on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance. By fostering mutual cooperation and sharing of intellectual leadership, partnerships can innovate, build institutional capacity and mobilize research knowledge in accessible ways.
The Trois siècles de migration francophones en Amérique du Nord (Three Centuries of Francophone Migration in North America) project. This 7 year partnership project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada aims to highlight the central place of Francophone migrations in the genesis and evolution of North American populations over a period of three centuries. The team of community and university partners, researchers and collaborators are studying the collective and individual experience of Francophones, across spatial scales, as they settled the continent with approaches from the geospatial sciences, history, anthropology, geography, heritage, linguistics, folklore, and more. The project includes over 50 academic partners and over a dozen heritage and community partners, including several here in the Keweenaw.
HESAL Director, Dr. Don Lafreniere and Dr. Richelle Winker (MTU Sociologist) were recognized this week by the Dean Hemmer of the College of Sciences and Arts and for their creative, out-of-the-box approach to providing students with an experiential/service-learning opportunity.
In Fall 2019, students in two classes, Dr. Winkler's ‘SS4700 Communities and Research’ and Dr. Lafreniere's ‘SS4050/5050 Advanced GIS’, worked together on a project to conduct research to inform decision-making related to applying the 'Safe Routes to School' program to Houghton. This is a national program that promotes walking and biking to school in conjunction with safety education, infrastructure improvements, traffic enforcement, and incentives.
In the project, students analyzed current practices associated with students getting to and from Houghton schools, assessed the level of community interest in the goals of the Safe Routes program, determined potential issues associated with pursuing those goals. The goal was to provide community members with a solid base of data to inform decisions related to the Safe Routes program. Neither class could have conducted the research independently as well as they did through collaboration. Students in ‘Communities and Research’ could and did collect data through surveys, interviews, public meetings, and meetings with school and city officials (as that class focused on methodologies for accomplishing such tasks) but they could not perform the spatial analysis at a level needed to be useful. On the other hand, students in ‘Advanced GIS’ could perform the desired spatial analysis but they were not in a position to engage stakeholders at the level required to get this project going.
Winkler and Lafreniere came up with the idea of collaboration well before the semester started. They proactively scheduled their classes in overlapping time slots, which allowed students in the two classes to meet together for 50 minutes each week. The small class sizes--seven students were enrolled in one class and eight in the other—meant the group was small enough to keep everyone fully engaged.
All data and the final report are available on the Houghton Safe Routes to School website. The project also resulted in the establishment of a group to address the actions in the report called the Houghton Safe Routes to School Core Planning team.
Dean Hemmer praised their work as “an innovative way to integrate the work from two different courses into an exciting community research project.” He continued, “It is wonderful when Michigan Tech can give back to the community while simultaneously giving our students interesting and relevant research opportunities.”
Students saw extraordinary benefits; in addition to the typical course work, they learned from each other. Students in “Communities and Research” learned a good deal about spatial analysis using GIS and the “Advanced GIS” students learned a lot about how to conduct community-engaged research. Because of this synergy, both see the potential for implementing these kinds of collaborations in a variety of disciplines.
This week Geospatial Research Scientist Daniel J. Lizzadro-McPherson presented a paper at the Underwater Cultural Resources Public Access and Research Conference. Daniel's presentation examined how climate change, rising lake levels, and severe storm events are significantly impacting shores on Michigan's Great Lakes. Watch the video above from MLive to see the impacts of shoreline erosion on lakeside communities. The HESAL lab is assisting researchers, the public, and local agencies to plan and develop sustainably by using historical aerial imagery in a GIS to study historical shoreline change and identify areas that are at high risk of erosion. You can explore our work on this project in this interactive web-mapping application.
Students working on the Michigan Miners at Home and Work: Digitizing, Mapping, and Sharing Employee Records project recently visited the Michigan Tech Archives to take a tour and get acquainted with the employee records they will be scanning and transcribing.
These employee records are vast! They currently take up many shelves of storage in the archives. In addition to making these records available online for researchers, students, community members, and anyone interested, this project will also allow the archivists to move the physical records into deeper storage and free up the more readily accessible shelf space for other highly requested materials that are not online yet. This also provides a safer way to access these documents as it restricts over-handling of the materials.
Students also got a chance to take an in-depth look at the actual employee cards with archivists and project directors. These Calumet and Hecla Mining Company employee records have a host of work and personal information and will be a valuable resource to researchers and students. Students are currently training with the document scanner and are eager to start! Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates as this project grows.