For our first deliverable, an Omeka site, I paired together images of the 1821 and 1861 college catalogs to reveal the stark differences between faculty numbers, admission requirements, and diversity of courses at the beginning and end of the forty year period we were examining.
Though I continued to explore the archives, reading student journals, inauguration addresses, early college histories, and school publications, I always gravitated back towards the college catalogs. Their appeal lay in their concrete, easily quantifiable data and the many ways it could be visualized.
For my Amherst Admission quiz, I drew upon the 1842 catalog’s admission requirements and contextualized it with information I and my colleagues had gleaned from our various expeditions into the archives. I constructed the game in Twine (Harlowe) with various customizations to the CSS and uploaded it to itch.io, which gave me a link for embedding it into the WordPress site.
For the data visualizations of the course proportions, I constructed a Google Spreadsheet classifying each discrete course into course-type and then calculating the percentage per academic year and per class group. I then used Tableau for the data visualizations.
This strategy had its limitations. Sorting each course into categories erased the nuance and complexities of how they were viewed in the 19th century. To rectify this, I created a graphic in Canva showing the overlaps and utilizing hyperlinks to direct viewers to pages explicating the courses and providing the archive.org online text.
My goal with these projects were to transform the hard “dry” data of the course catalogs into something engaging and revelatory for the viewer.