Part 2: Writing and Visualizing the Data Narrative
In contrast to the tens of thousands of records associated with the collection as a whole, the Bentley Student Scrapbooks consists of 88 scrapbooks documenting student experiences at the University of Michigan spanning the 1860s to the 1940s, with most scrapbooks falling between about 1906 to 1919. These scrapbooks covered a fascinating cross-section of life on campus – everything from student athletics to cross-dressing to secret societies to dance cards appeared in the Subjects field of the metadata.
When I asked the (admittedly naive) question “what do you mean by scrapbooks?” the archivist team had a lot of stories to share. For instance, I had no idea that a fraternity in 1910 might keep track of their beloved top athlete in painstaking detail and then put it all into a scrapbook for posterity. It was genuinely lovely to experience their enthusiasm about this collection, which often focused on specific backstories to the creation or legacy of these scrapbooks that fell outside the metadata itself. How then, I wondered, might a data visualization narrative support these passionate archivists in their public lectures and workshops? What types of patterns should we focus on revealing? Continue reading