The digital collection of The College News, a Bryn Mawr College student publication active from 1914 to 1968, is a valuable asset for studying institutional history over a crucial period of social change. The 2021 Digital Scholarship Fellows used this resource to create a corpus, two web-based visualizations, and a tactile visualization. The team executed these projects by using computational methods to extract names, places, and terms from the College News with the goal of simplifying access to marginalized stories.
Content warning: this website and the corpus our project analyzes include historical terminology for race and other material that may cause harm.
The Digital Scholarship Summer Fellows arrived with varying degrees of technological experience and exposure to digital scholarship. To equip each individual with skills needed to complete the project, the cohort spent the first three weeks primarily learning Python fundamentals with a focus of data analysis methods such as web scraping, data visualization, distant reading of the College News corpus, and other tools vital to the project.
In the early stages of research, team members spent substantial time exploring The College News to identify topics of interest for both collaborative and individual research projects. Fellows then began transforming their topics of interest into quantitative data through Natural Language Processing (NLP), topic modeling, keyword searching, and context searching. The team also decided upon a critical making project visualizing the concentration of Bryn Mawr graduates from each U.S. state. This data was collected by extracting place names in College News graduation issues between 1935 and 1968.
Based on individual interests, some team members exercised their newly acquired coding skills by supporting data analysis and visualization, while others worked on front-end website development. Throughout this stage, individual and collaborative projects were refined while website templates and features were evaluated for use.
To present their findings, the fellows used Jekyll — a tool that transforms plain text into a static website — to find a fitting template, make appropriate edits, and deploy the Github-hosted project website. Team members also finished crafting their tactile visualization in Park Science Center’s Makerspace.
Web Content Strategist
Web Content Strategist
Data Visualization Specialist
Special thanks to Allison Mills, Bronwen Densmore, and Molly Kuchler for offering their support as project consultants.
As one of our main goals for this project is to help raise awareness towards the lack of representation in Bryn Mawr history and providing platforms for underrepresented voices, we would like to regognize our positionality in the process. First, we would like to acknowledge that Bryn Mawr College operates on Lenape land. Therefore, we would like to respect and honor the caretakers of this land, from time immemorial until now, and into the future. Secondly, we would like to raise awareness that the voices portrayed in the College News are primarily the voices of white students at Bryn Mawr College. We recognize that our data is missing the valuable perspectives of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students.