Below you will find three projects that demonstrate my abilities as an engaged archivist with a passion for using new technologies to bring information to wider audiences. During my tenure as a Pratt Institute Information Science and History of Art and Design Dual Masters Degree student I pursued projects that built upon foundational, service oriented archival and information science theory. Having learned new technologies I hope to be able to employ these approaches throughout my career and continue to engage in advanced methods of dispersing information.
No More Invisible Women Exhibition
Project Title: No More Invisible Women Exhibition: Curation of a Digitized Moving Image and Sound Archival Collection from the Lesbian Herstory Archives into an Informational Exhibition about the History of ACT UP’s Women Focused Actions
Project Description: For Professor Cocciolo’s Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archives course we collaborated with the Lesbian Herstory Archives to digitize a collection of audiovisual materials related to the work of ACT UP NY’s Women’s Committee. Wanting to showcase these materials in an a manner that gave context to their significance, we curated an online exhibition, No More Invisible Women, that highlights the history of the Women’s Committee and their monumental actions that changed the course of the AIDS crisis. The exhibition is a part of a publically accessible, digital repository website for the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ Audiovisual Collections. The featured audio and visual recordings found within the collection page, No More Invisible Women, are focused on four actions: the Target City Hall action, and actions in which members from the Women’s Committee met with three governmental institutions: the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Methods: I conducted 6 days of research at local repositories: the Lesbian Herstory Archives; the Fales Library & Special Collections; and NYPL’s Manuscripts & Archives Division. I identified collections that would inform the exhibition and made appointments to view the materials. I spent many hours with the materials, took notes, and photographed relevant materials for inclusion in the exhibition. I interviewed Maxine Wolfe because she is a primary source of information as the audiovisual content was from her personal papers and she was an incredibly involved member of ACT UP.
My Role: This was a group project involving four other students. The work was divided, so one other classmate and I took on the research and curation responsibility. I created the timeline, determined the structure of the exhibition based on the most important actions, curated the images and figured out how to insert images into text through HTML in Omeka, created access copies of the video files using HandBrake, wrote the privacy statement, conducted the archival research, edited and contributed to the text of the exhibition pages, and added descriptive and technical metadata to several of the audiovisual items.
Learning Outcome Achieved: Research
Rationale: My work in creating and curating this exhibition demonstrates the ability to identify collections and resources for an underexposed and marginalized topic: women’s role in shaping national AIDS policy during the height of the crisis. I was able to analyze primary source materials from archival collections to inform my curatorial decisions and this enabled me to create a concise and informative exhibition.
Learning Outcome Achieved: Reflective Practice
Rationale: In order to be an archivist that understands all aspects of the profession, I find it essential that archivists spend quality time on “the other side of the reference desk,” conducting research as a patron in order to learn the impact of our decisions. Conducting research at three very different archives (a community based, all volunteer archives; an academic special collections; an archives within a public library) allowed me to see that advantages and shortcomings of particular approaches. Additionally in curating the exhibition I was highly attuned to the sensitive nature of the material. I wrote the privacy statement in order to explain the ethics behind our decisions to only use full names when the people had an already established internet presence related to AIDS advocacy, provide screenshots that did not include faces, alert people to the fact that they’re able to request that material be taken down, and explicitly state that we do not want to out anyone. Since the topic of the exhibition deals with recent history, many of the involved parties may still be alive. They conducted their actions before the concept of the internet, and as archivists we are ethically and morally bound to respect the privacy of the people represented in the collections we steward.
The timeline I created for the exhibition.
Visualizing Photography Auction Results
Project Title: Visualizing Photography Auction Results: Using Python and Tableau to Scrape a Website, Compile a Data Set, and Create Visualizations of Photography Sales Trends
Project URLs: http://research.prattsils.org/blog/coursework/information-visualization/visualizing-photography-auction-results/ & http://pfch.nyc/photography_auctions/index.html & https://github.com/jemseegers/photo_auction
Project Description: Since I am passionate about the history of photography I want to investigate the circumstances that have led to the establishment of photography as an “accepted high art form” and that conception’s subsequent influence on the sales of photography at auction. In order to analyze photography sales trends, I used python to scrape websites that displayed the results of six Dreweatts & Bloomsbury auctions that exclusively sold photographs. I was able to gather information about 1,415 photographs and compile a dataset. I then created visualizations to better understand the trends in these auctions. The results of this study are not able to be extrapolated to industry wide trends since the dataset is by no means large enough to be indicative. However, this project is one step towards better understanding the photography market. I created the dataset during the Programming for Cultural Heritage Institutions course and created the graphics during the Information Visualization course.
Methods: I used the programming language python to run a series of scripts to scrape websites to generate a dataset and automatically calculate totals, convert the currency, and adjust for inflation. You can see the entire programming element of the project on github. Using the information visualization program Tableau, I imported my dataset and created five visualizations and one dashboard to aid in understanding photography auction trends.
My Role: I am the sole creator of this project. The professors of the courses, Matt Miller and Chris Alen Sula, were invaluable in teaching me the skills needed to execute these projects.
Learning Outcome Achieved: Technology
Rationale: Through this project I demonstrated my ability to use a programming language, the command line, github, and information visualization technologies to create, manipulate, and display data in new ways. When I wasn’t able to create the infographics I had hoped to create during the Programming for Cultural Heritage course I explicitly took the Information Visualization course to learn technology that would better communicate the data.
Project Title: Making Food and Services Information More Readily Available through guidetofood.nyc
Project Description: I decided to make a website for this project in order to make detailed information about food pantries, soup kitchens, farmers’ markets and other resources in New York City publicly accessible through multiple avenues. This information is available through The New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s website in their Guides to Food and Assistance. NYCCAH’s Guides to Food and Assistance are printed in a booklet format, broken down by 8 areas: the Bronx, Eastern Queens, Western Queens, Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Upper Brooklyn, Lower Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Users could not view the information on a city wide scale. Users had to cross reference the number the site is listed and flip to the back of the pamphlet to find its location on a map. I visualized all of the program sites on a city wide scale, be able to filter by type of service provided, and by day on which the programs were open.
Methods: In order to make this happen, I got back in touch with NYCCAH (I interned there in the summer of 2009) and asked if they might be willing to share the information collected in their database with me. They were incredibly helpful and graciously provided me with this dataset. I refined the information and geolocated the programs in order to create a Tableau visualization that would effectively communicate information about the programs. I then purchased a domain and created a website through the squarespace platform to share this information, embedding the interactive visualization as the homepage. In order to provide a richer resource, I wanted to include the locations of social service agencies and farmers markets in addition to the NYCCAH dataset. Through two open data websites: New York City Open Data and New York State Open Data, I collected information about WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Centers, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) Offices, and Farmers Markets and whether or not they accept EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) as payment. I combined all of this information and the NYCCAH information into a single data set. I standardized the language in the data set in order to maintain consistency. In the NYCCAH dataset, all of the information regarding hours of operation, specific requirements, and program type were all contained in one field. Separating this information into ten different fields took roughly 10 hours of manual editing; it was well worth the effort to see the information visualized in the manner in which I had hoped. The final dataset combines the information about every program site in a standardized format that enabled me to communicate the information about the resources through an interactive visualization.
My Role: I am the sole author of this project. Half of the dataset was created and provided by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Learning Outcome Achieved: User-Centered Focus
Rationale: In 2015 the Pew Research Center found that “lower-income and “smartphone-dependent” users are especially likely to turn to their phones for navigating job and employment resources.” I extrapolated this fact to all information seeking behavior for people with lower incomes. I chose to create a squarespace site because it is automatically mobile optimized, thus serving the needs of my intended audience. The goal of this project was to use the data from the guides in order to make it accessible through other means. I intentionally made this a resource for the public, instead of just having it as a class project.
Learning Outcome Achieved: Communication
Rationale: I employed design theory to make sure that the goals of the project were achieved. I decided to use the same colors employed in NYCCAH’s 2014-2015 Guides in order to create visual continuity if users were familiar with the guides. I chose to use a clearly legible typeface and make the font size large to more effectively communicate the information. I spent quite a bit of time parsing out all of the information in the NYCCAH dataset because it employed inconsistent language. I standardized the content to make it easier to digest.