We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot


Welcome to Ten Roads! This blog is intended to be a place for me to share my (generally Civil War-related) thoughts and experiences. I try to update once a week at the very least. All comments and readers are greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Projects, projects, everywhere

The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College (technically my employers) and the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission have me working on two projects as of late. My part in each is extremely dull, although what I'm contributing is important because when the projects are finished they are both going to be impressive.

Project number one involves a database of libraries in Pennsylvania. My job is to go through the spreadsheet of the database, separate the first and last name fields, and then go into the .pdf file and copy-paste email addresses. Fun stuff, lemme tell you. Big-picture-wise, the database is being created so that every library in Pennsylvania can be contacted and asked what kind of Lincoln-related holdings they have so that a website can be created with every single Lincoln-related text/artifact held by Pennsylvania libraries.

Project number two involves a database of Pennsylvania Civil War newspapers on the Penn State Libraries site. I am assigned Philadelphia, so I do searches for mentions of Abraham Lincoln in the Philadelphia newspapers included in the database. I enter every hit into a spreadsheet and save the page of the newspaper as a .pdf file. Later on every article will be sorted through and some will be disposed of. Once all of that is completed, the articles will be used in order to create a sort of Google Earth of 1860s Pennsylvania with Lincoln's whereabouts marked. I think it will wind up being quite interesting.

It takes a lot of patience to do these things. I am finding it hard to stay motivated. I finished about 150 for the first project today (I still have a couple hundred to go) and only about 10 articles for the second project (I have hundreds and hundreds more to go through). Hopefully my motivation levels will increase over time.

2 comments:

Daniel Sauerwein said...

Sarah,

You are very fortunate to be working on these projects. Learning the applications of statistical work to our profession is fast becoming an important skill. Two of my friends and colleagues helped one of our faculty construct a database of ship's passage records concerning the American Colonization Society. Your work on these projects will go a long way to enhancing your college applications and eventual graduate school applications. Best of luck with both projects and keep up the work.

Daniel

Don said...

Sarah,

I agree with Daniel. Also, remember that historical work takes a lot of detective effort, and sometimes half the battle is being able to find material. Remember to add these resources to your resource list for later research. There's a lot of good stuff in the newspaper database in particular.

Don

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