Summer Research Update

This summer I am continuing to work on the Moravian Lives project. Within the project, I read and semantically tag memoirs for people’s names, places, events, and other important entities. Using this information, we hope to be able to answer interesting questions involving the Moravian community.

One of the interesting questions that we have encountered recently is whether every person and place is worthy of a unique identifier. Originally, we were only giving unique identifiers to people who we had memoirs for and places we deemed to be important to the Moravian world in some way. However, recently we decided to give all places and people mentioned unique identifiers. We came to this decision because we don’t have a good idea of whether these people and places are important yet. While they may not be mentioned a lot in the memoirs we have already read, there are still a ton of memoirs we have not gone through and these people and places may be critical in those.

Summer Research Blog: Week 2

This week, my research was interrupted and slowed by having my wisdom teeth removed this Tuesday. However, in spite of that, I was able to continue my work on the REED London project. My biggest accomplishment this week was my georectification of the Whitehall map of 1680. This map presented a challenge to me previously, because it shows only a very small portion of land (the Whitehall Palace in London), and more frustratingly, a small portion of land that no longer exists on modern maps. To align Whitehall buildings with modern buildings and streets would be entirely guesswork, and so I had settled to use the Whitehall 1680 map just as a visual aid. This was until I came up with the idea of georectifying the Whitehall map to another, larger map from the same era of London. I had already georectified several maps of London that show Whitehall Palace in some detail. I was able to georectify Whitehall Palace based on other maps that were already tied to modern topography. This gives a detailed view of every Whitehall Palace building, linked to their modern location.

The un-georectified map of Whitehall

Emotion Encoding Update

After encoding memoirs for two weeks now, our team was able to uncover a number of religious events unique to Moravians that are often quite emotional. It is important for us to capture these events through textual encoding in order to analyze how often they occur and the emotional outcomes of these events. The first of these events is a religious awakening, which often occurs for Moravians when they are in alone in a field and completely alters the remaining course of their life. The example below is taken from John Darnbrook’s memoir.

The next event that a lot of Moravians experience is a visitation from their Savior, which appears to be in the form of a vision. It seems like this experience often allows the person to feel a closer connection to their Savior and can lead to feelings of satisfaction and love. The example below is taken from Elizabeth Clagget’s memoir.

The last religious event that we have discovered through text encoding the memoirs is the point where the person is ready to pass away and resign to their Savior. The most interesting part of this event is that rather than death being viewed in a negative way, the Moravians have more of a positive outlook of death. The following example is taken from Richard Fenton’s memoir.