Blog #8

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I really enjoyed completing this assignment, it was like the flourish map assignment because we got to do some technical activity within our research. For my research question I chose to explore was what a funeral for a religious slave included? There were many different areas of this question I could explore like whether slaves were allowed to attend the funeral, or if they were allowed a pastor or serum to bless the service. So many things come to mind about what basic rights that slaves were possibly able to experience or not. 


To begin my research I ventured to the subtitle listed “Funeral” in the North American Slave Narratives’, “Guide to Religious Content in Slave Narratives”. Under this subtitle I explored various data collections, and I found two in particular that stood out to me the most for my research question that would be useful to put into voyant. The first document I chose was by Sarah H. Bradford, she wrote of the horrific experiences her friend Harriet Tubmen experienced. The second document I chose was from Reverend John Dixon Long, a slave-holder, ex sea-captain, and Reverend of the Methodist Church. When looking at these documents first glance after downloading them, it can be quite overwhelming. However, after uploading each one into voyant, it is quite easy to extract the information I need to further research my question. It also allows me to make connections from the words that I am analyzing throughout this data. For my visualization I chose to pick out words that would give me a better understanding of what Bradford depicted in her novel. I found a small amount of textual data within my voyant image that touched on funerals. I tried other words like service or black, and I still found little amounts of these words within the text. Although this was a downside to my research, this tool allows me to cross this reference off the list for potential research tools. Without this tool I would have had to search through the whole document containing thousands of words, but instead I can search which words are frequently used, analyze it from there and decide whether it would be a usable source for answering my research question. This is a huge advantage of Voyant and its tools. The second document I examined in Voyant was from Reverend John Dixon Long. He touched on many subjects within his article on slavery, I saw many different subtitles when I was scanning through it to upload to Voyant. I started with words like funeral, slaves, slavery, and night. I found more frequencies of him using the word funeral than the first source. I also found him using the word night a lot. This is helpful for my research because most slave funerals were only allowed to happen at night. I also wanted to look into words like reverend and church because christianity was very popular among slaves. Although I found many results for these specific words I would have to look into the document further to extract the information needed to fully answer my research question. Voyant would be more useful for a different kind of research question. I found this to be true because I was looking for a more imagery filled document to research my document, and although Voyant allows me to search through these words I did not find what I was looking for. Some other benefits that Voyant offers is they allow you to also search for phrases other than just a single word. This would save you lots of time when researching, I personally really enjoyed this website and will be using it in the future.

One thought on “Blog #8

  1. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this assignment and found it interesting! I think you research question centering around death culture in slavery has a lot of potential as a historical inquiry. I appreciate how you provided both a “close reading” of the documents in addition to the “distant reading” of text analysis. I know that your results didn’t yield what you expected, so I started tinkering around with the search terms and added some other terms that I thought pertained to concepts of death/funerals and came up with interesting results:*&query=dead*&query=dying*&query=death*&query=funeral*&docIndex=0&mode=document

    I also think that your discussion of the correlation between funerals and night demonstrates one of the strengths of text analysis. If anything, text analysis makes it easier to see where there are connections (or a lack thereof). Thank you for your thoughts and examples using Voyant!

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