Project Proposal and Ngram Viewer

For my project I will be using visualizations and a digital archive.  I plan on creating an exhibition for a digital archive, that will use both sources and visualizations to help tell the narrative.  At the moment I am still torn between two different research questions, but I feel that they will both do well in the exhibit I plan on creating.  My first research question is how did the people of the United States try to prevent diseases before Louis Pasteur’s  germ theory became more and more accepted in the 1880s?  My second research question is what led to the Native American’s being so susceptible to the diseases that the colonists brought with them?   I plan on my audience being the interested and intelligent adult.  I hope that people will learn about how diseases were seen by the early americans, or that they will learn that the reasons the Native American’s got so sick and so many died go back a long time.   

I plan on using both a timeline and a map so that it is possible to see where many of the diseases were and show what different areas and times were doing to get rid of them.  I also hope to use pictures and maybe a journal page or two for visuals.  I am choosing Omeka to produce my project.  I am using Omeka because I would like to be able to create an archive for the sources that I do find while also telling what I see as their story.  Omeka will host my project online so I will not have to create a separate website, and I will also be able to add my map and timeline to my exhibit so it will all be on the one site.    

The hardest part about making this project will be finding enough sources, especially primary sources.  At the moment I have a few books, a couple articles and a few websites, but I am still looking for primary sources especially pictures and journals and maps.  For example one of the websites that I think will have some good material is Harvard University’s Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics. It is a digital library collection about different perspectives on a few of the epidemics that have occurred since 1400CE. It has some historical essays and maps and documents that I can hopefully use as primary sources too.

I used the Ngram viewer that we were looking at on Tuesday to help me with my research. In using the Ngram viewer I originally found it cool but slightly useless.  However after adding a bunch of words that I am using to look for sources for my research project and clicking on one of the links at the bottom I have found a few good ideas for sources. I think that these are useful to help see how much some of the words and people I will be looking at have been mentioned over the years and what time periods they were more popular in.  The results that I got kind of surprised me.  Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Robert Koch the three people who are mostly responsible for discovering and proving germ theory that exists today are barely mentioned at all.  However, clicking on the links at the bottom did definitely help with researching so I think that these Ngrams will also be useful for my project.

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