Erica Cavanaugh, Project Developer, Center for Digital Editing, University of Virginia. Follow on Twitter @ecava12.
Project Website: https://washingtonpapers.org/visualizations/
This project uses the StoryMapJS tool to visually illustrate the robust information that can be found within financial accounting records. While they may be tedious to parse through, single and double entry bookkeeping records often contain rich information that can supplement traditional correspondence. Using a financial document from the Library of Congress, this story map illustrates the stops and general path George Washington made during his trip to the Society of the Cincinnati in 1784. Details of the taverns he visited and his associated expenses have been supplied by the historical account book and supplemented by the detailed index of the Papers of George Washington.
The use of the StoryMapJS tool allowed for the creation of a visually striking project that could be accessed by individuals on both computers and mobile devices. This allowed for a larger target audience that included middle and high schoolers, as well as those interested in both Early American and Accounting history.
When did you begin this project? When did you complete this project?
Time Span: July 15, 2014 - July 24, 2014
Length: 9 days
What is the outcome of the project?
This is a part of a series of visualizations that I have been creating for the Washington Papers which are available on the project website - https://washingtonpapers.org/visualizations/.
What tools, resources, programs, or equipment did you use for this project?
Please describe any costs incurred for this project, and (if relevant) how you secured funding for these costs.
Please give an overview of the workflow or process you followed to execute this project, including time estimates where possible.
The first step was transcribing the financial document. As a financial document, using a spreadsheet proved to be the best solution for this and kept all the temporal sections grouped together. Next, I used the cumulative index of the Papers of George Washington as well as historical maps to identify the various taverns and ordinaries. The map in particular helped to get estimated geographical coordinates for each location. Once all of the information was gathered, I began entering the necessary information into the storymap application, focusing on design, images, color, and font selection at the very end.
What, if anything, changed between beginning your project and its current/final form?
The initial version of the project was created in 2013 using a program developed by the University of Virginia's Sciences, Humanities & Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI) called VisualEyes Classic. Unfortunately, it is a Flash-based visualization tool which eventually began having trouble displaying it on certain web browsers. The information was transferred to StorymapJS from the VisualEyes Classic version.
Is there anything specific you wish you had known when beginning your project that might help other people to know?
Looking ahead for potential sustainability and accessibility problems would have helped in determining the best tool to use in the beginning.
Do you have any plans to follow up on this project or work on something similar in the future?
Yes, this is a part of a series of visualizations built using Washington's financial accounts, his Barbados diary, and the Martha Washington correspondence.