Category Archives: Visual Imagery

Final Thoughts on My Shuffle Along Project

Site link:–tours-1921-1923

In creating the two tour maps for Shuffle Along, I was hoping to provide an engaging, easy-to-use representation of the challenges and opportunities faced by African-American theatrical companies touring the country in the 1920s.  I believed it was important to provide contextual information in a narrative form, accompanied by contemporary visual images, to place both the original (A Company) and spinoff (B Company) tours in context.

As I discovered through experimentation with kepler and Neatline software packages, it is important to select the correct software to achieve your goals.  For the A Company–which toured in a more limited area–I wanted to show the timeline of dates along with full information (including photos of theaters when available and clips of early reviews) in an easy-to-use format for the site visitor.  I found Neatline to be the best solution for this task, particularly because of its embedded timeline feature that allows you to quickly locate each appearance.  On the other hand, for the B Company where I was more concerned with showing the geographic range of the tour, kepler worked better.  As with all software packages, I found that I needed to continue to experiment in order to improve the visual representation offered by each platform.  Comments from other students were very helpful in this area and I appreciate their input as I worked to develop my idea.

I already knew going into the project that the A Company played major cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago for extended dates, but avoided any appearances south of Washington, DC, although they still encountered difficulties in obtaining food and lodging due to contemporary racism.  The B Company, on the other hand, mainly appeared in one or two-night stands and toured more widely, although in many cases they appeared in segregated theaters.  Nonetheless, by mapping these appearances I was given new appreciation for the struggles each faced as well as their achievement opening the door for black entertainers on Broadway and beyond.

As with all DH projects, the next step is twofold: To continue to support the site by building more features to it and expand the story to embrace Eubie Blake’s full career; while also determining a social media strategy that will reach the core audience interested in the subject of theatrical history, African-American culture, and the history of American music.  I look forward to embracing these challenges.

The Perils of Digitization

  • What can you capture, and not capture, when you digitize something?

Digitization currently is limited to either capturing the appearance of an item (through a scan or photograph), the sound of an image (through an audio file), or a motion picture (through a video file).  You are not able to capture the smell or texture of an item.  And no matter what format you use, the digital image is not an exact reproduction of an item, even when a photograph is scanned or an analog sound recording is digitized.  There are “losses” that may occur depending on the software used, plus the user may manipulate the image or audio file in ways to change it from its original state.

  • Which forms of digitization make the most sense for different types of items?

Texts are the most easily digitized, although you do lose the physical presence of the original object.  Photographs or 2-D objects can be scanned, with the caveat that the new scan is not the same as the original.  Objects that have a particular physical presence–a smell or texture as two examples–are less easily transferred to a digital representation.

  • To what extent does working with digitized representations impact how we understand different kinds of items, and/or our ability to use them for different purposes?

This depends on what kind of study you are making.  If you are analyzing text, you probably aren’t losing much by not having the physical object available to you.  However, if you are analyzing an audio recording, artwork, or photograph, you are losing key elements of the original item if you rely solely on its digital image.

NASA Commons

The NASA Commons site on Flickr is located at:

A rights and permission statement is available on the NASA Images website:

The NASA Commons Flickr site gives access to a selection of copyright-free images, video, and other materials from the NASA archives found on its master website, NASA Images:  These images are free to use by the public, with some restrictions as outlined on NASA’s rights and permission page.  Most of these restrictions have to do with commercial usage in advertisements or in other ways that might imply NASA’s endorsement of a commercial project.  Likeliness rights to individual astronauts or individuals shown in photos may be necessary to obtain as well.  The rich library of imagery gives users the ability to draw on NASA’s entire history of space flight and exploration.

J. Paul Getty Museum Website

The J. Paul Getty Collection Website

You can access the collection here:

The Getty offers the imagery to which it owns the rights without a fee.  Its rights and permission statement can be found here:

You can search the collection here:

The J. Paul Getty Collection offers a rich archive of material, including artworks, photographs, historic documents, and other materials for digital download copyright free.  The website states that “Currently, there are over 100,000 images from the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute available through its Open Content Program. Other images include paintings, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, antiquities, sculpture, decorative arts, artists’ sketchbooks, watercolors, rare prints from the 16th through the 18th century, and 19th-century architectural drawings of cultural landmarks.”  The Getty gives open access to images that it believes are out of copyright, but ultimately it is up to the individual user to determine rights.  It also supports fair use of its imagery.  If an image is used, the museum requests that credit be given to its Open Content Program, and that a copy of any publication be offered free of charge to the collection.