Blog Post 8

For this Voyant blog assignment I chose to pick a source from the North American Slave Database. I was particularly interested in the topic of marriage in relation to slavery. The research question I developed from this is: “What types of restrictions are held between married enslaved people are there that do not exist for those who are not enslaved?” The text analysis on Voyant is a great tool that can help the reader to get a better understanding of the text presented. It pulls a bunch of different key words used and points out the frequencies of those words used in different areas. It also presents the vocabulary density and average words per sentence, so the reader can get a feel for the writing style of the author. Provided all of these tools for analysis, I was able to get a better understanding of marriage between enslaved people, which leads me to come closer to answering my research question. When enslaved people are married, they get less time to spend with their significant other due to being forced to do chores by their masters. I also learned that people could actually force their slaves to marry them. This throws consent completely out of the window, which is horrifying. Overall, using Voyant was a very positive experience. It helped me to understand the text better, and gave a good insight as to what marriage was actually like for an enslaved person. This is not to say text analysis does not come without its disadvantages. In my figure, there are irrelevant words that happened to come up a lot in the text such as “shall” or “having”. These are not key words in the text that have any actual meaning, and they can not lead to any discoveries for the reader. These words may have come up often, but that does not mean they are useful in helping the reader understand the excerpt better. These words are just filler in the text, and Voyant should do a better job at sniffing these out and eliminating them as key words. For the most part, it does do a great job at finding the useful information for the readers, which is really most important.

One thought on “Blog Post 8

  1. I am glad that you enjoyed the process of using Voyant and found it useful for answering historical research questions. Your topic of interest and research question were broad enough for the results to be widely applicable to your question, and it looks like it offered some good insight! Both the word cloud and the frequency graph demonstrated familial and spousal relationships within the text. As you noted, however, we can also see the impact of slavery on these relationships. I could see this project also using something like mapping to chart distanced relationships between plantations, etc. I also appreciated your reflections about the benefits and limitations of text analysis– thank you for your insight!

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