Data Visualization: NGram


The Ngram Viewer is a useful tool to help identify the popularity of historical topics, concepts, and ideologies in books. The graphical display and percentages give light to writing trends that emerged in the last 200 years. I chose specifically to compare the frequency of key historical political and economic ideologies that are germane and always relevant in historical discussions. My first graph depicts the frequency of history, capitalism, socialism, and Marxism. We frequency use these topics as frames of reference to analyze themes in historical documents. What emerged from the NGram Data Visualization is surprising. References to socialism extended back into the 1880s, while references to capitalism and Marxism did not emerge into the 1920s. In the specific case of Marxism this makes sense, but I thought capitalism would have occurred frequently throughout the viewing sample. I would theorize that historians used this terminology more frequency in opposition to the economic system that emerged as a result of Karl Marx.

In the other graph I analyzed entirely US past and present political parties: Republican, Democrat, Whig, and Federalist. Republican occurred far more frequently than any of the other political parties, perhaps revealing our countries historical distaste for liberal politics. The Whig party briefly surpassed the Republican in popularity for writers until about the 1870, reflecting the importance of the party until its collapse prior to the Civil War. Also important to note is the infrequency of the term Federalist in the early years of the nation (1776-1820), the height of its historical importance and power.

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