Laura's Clio 2 Portfolio

by Laura Crossley

Essay 1: Exploratory Data Analysis

For this essay, I used the New Nation Votes dataset to explore party competition in New York's U.S. House of Representatives elections from 1789 to 1824. Looking first at vote percentages by party on a state level, I was able to see that the Federalists had a lead over the Republicans in almost every year before 1800, after which they were overtaken by Republicans. It was not until 1812 that the Federalists again surpassed the Republicans. All of this fit election patterns on a national level; the Federalist Party lost power beginning with John Adams' loss to Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 presidential election, but the party's opposition to the War of 1812 enabled them to regain a little ground, if only briefly. By breaking down the data into county level charts, I was able to see that Federalist support after 1800 continued primarily in the state's most populous counties, demonstrating the party's popularity with urban voters. Doing this visualization essay was my first foray into making historical arguments using computational methods, so I learned how to pick out a trend in the data, connect it to available historical information using additional sources, and then use my evidence to make a compelling argument about what was going on and why.

See the essay here.

Party Competition in New York: U.S. House of Representatives Elections, 1789-1824

Essay 2: Mapping

For my second visualization essay, I mapped census data from NHGIS. My goal was to see if there was evidence of Native American urbanization in the late nineteenth century, so I first mapped the number of people per county whose race was marked as Indian in the 1890 census. The range was too large to make a useful visualization of urban Native populations, though, so I just focused on the Eastern half of the country and filtered out the counties with zero people identified as Indian. From this map, I could tell that there were people identifying as Indian in the counties of all of the top 25 most populous cities in the eastern half of the U.S. in 1890. I then mapped the change from 1880 to 1890 in the number of people who identified as Indian. Of the counties of 1890's 25 most populous cities (in the Eastern U.S.), fifteen show an increase compared to only nine with a decrease (I couldn't compare Washington, D.C. because it is not included in the 1880 census data). Overall, I found more evidence of Native American urbanization in the late nineteenth century than I was expecting, demonstrating that it is a topic that needs more research. Not only did I learn to work through some of the challenges of creating useful maps, but these maps also helped me to identify certain cities/geographic areas that might be worth particular attention, so this was a valuable exercise for my future research.

See the essay here.

Change in Indian Population by County from 1880 to 1890

Essay 3: Text Analysis

I used the wordVectors package on the annual reports of the Indian Rights Association (IRA) from 1883 to 1927 for my third and final visualization essay. I had wanted to use word embedding models to look at the discussion around race, but I quickly discovered that the word "white" was hardly used in the context of race. It took a lot of sorting through random clusters, but I finally realized that it would be interesting to explore how the language around "citizenship" changed over time. To get at change over time, I split the reports into two models: 1883-1904 and 1905-1927. First, I used the closest_to function on the words citizenship, citizen, and citizens on the top 5000 words in each of the two models. The lists of words that I got back allowed me to see that the way the IRA discussed Indian citizenship shifted from a notion of citizenship based on land ownership to a notion of citizenship based on "responsibilities," "privileges," "rights," "freedom," and "duties." I then decided to focus on the difference between rights and responsibilities by taking the twenty words in each model most similar to either of them and plotting the words on a plane of association with "responsibility" and association with "rights." This showed that the word "citizenship" shifted from being more closely associated with "rights" to being more closely associated with "responsibilities." It also showed that IRA's interest in discussing the rights of Native nations ("treaty" rights) dropped, and they became much more interested in discussing the rights of Native individuals ("property," "land titles," "due process"). This was the most interesting and useful visualization essay for me. It gave me a lot of insight into the rhetoric surrounding Indian citizenship, which is a historical interest of mine. Already, I can think of several other corpora that I would like to do this analysis on, possibly continuing with the citizenship idea.

See the essay here.

Word Embedding Model of Rights vs. Responsibilities in the Annual Report of the Indian Rights Association, 1883 to 1904