Introduction to Archival Research Workshop, Oct. 13, 2021

Workshop  Blog  – Felicity Howlett

I attended the Introduction to Archival Research workshop on Wednesday, October 13 at 3 p.m. Beth Posner, Head of Library Resource Sharing, summarized the breadth and depth of current activity in digitizing archival resources, techniques and protocols involved, the larger collections of archival materials, and aids not only to reaching certain collections but also in understanding how one might best sort through them.  The examples she offered were extremely helpful.  By searching with salient keywords and subcategories, she could reduce a response of several hundred thousand items, to several thousand, then to several hundred, and finally a few dozen.

Despite my reasonable familiarity with OneSearch and the World Cat, she provided examples for use that I had never thought about, including some that were staring right back from the topics page: “Dissertations at CUNY and Beyond,” for example, in OneSearch. While I have happily come across useful dissertations online, I was oblivious to the availability of this option on OneSearch as well as what it could mean in terms of archival research. As she pointed out, it is very possible that someone doing doctoral research on a specific topic may have gained access to or unearthed archival material that is not yet in circulation. Looking through bibliographies of such research may provide valuable leads to important material. In addition to the “Dissertations at CUNY and Beyond” label, the same tab provides opportunities to explore other dissertation collections. 

She discussed the power of the WorldCat collection and also a program specific to archived materials called Archivegrid.  That collection lists 7,000,000 records from 1400 institutional archives.  Ninety percent of the records are from the WorldCat, and ten percent have been obtained using Finding Aids. 

In the Library of Congress categories under Archives, you can see how many collections are in which category.

Finding Aids, fairly standard among collections, include:

            Collection Overview; Biographical/histories; Scope and Arrangement;             Administrative Info ; Key Terms; Using the Collection.

Subheadings/electronic terms are hyperlinked. To discover collections that do not have Finding Aids, you need to search at the Repository level.

She talked some about the New York Public Library (NYPL) Archives and Manuscripts Collection, including a Guide to locating MS and Archives, and a helpful article, Getting Started with Archives.  She spoke of the value of browsing the lists of collections, simply to become accustomed to how they appear, and then to learn how to search across collections, and the value of using Date Filters as well as Limit by Division.

In addition, she reminded us to search using the library’s regular catalog collection as well.  For example, one might find a trove of unarchived microfilmed materials. And most important, she directed us to bring questions and issues directly to the library staff.

With regard to online archival materials, she pointed out that there is a distinction between analog and digital.  She suggests that at this point, items that can be found online are probably just the tip of the iceberg. She discussed the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) which includes specialized areas such as a Native Northeast Portal, a digital Transgender Archive, and a hub called Biodiversity Heritage Library where three of the most outstanding collections are contained in the NYPL, the Library of Congress, and Tulane University.

In the past couple of years, I have installed Zotero and started to use it as a research tool, but I have much more to learn about it. The incredible augmentation of available and accessible material through digital processes still leaves me in awe at how we can now search, connect to, and obtain information.

Just this past week, as I was wrapping up a search for photographs of Paris in the 1920s, I came upon the news that a collection of museums in Paris has recently combined resources to make approximately 62, 500 of their photographs free and accessible to the public. I scrambled to sign up to visit such a resource.  On my first try, I landed in the area to purchase admission tickets for museum visits. On my next attempts, I arrived at apologetic notes about Covid restrictions and then a denial of the validity of my email address. So I understand there are still some flaws in my basic skill set, but it certainly was a thrill to learn that such a collection is going to be online and shared! Sooner or later, I’ll visit it!!     

How can the innovation mindset evolve by embracing the culture of repair?

Thinking about innovation has had, for a long time, a strong association with the picture of privileged places like Silicon Valley, where an intellectual white and male elite retains the privilege of creating the new trendy gadgets of the future. Although this concept is still strong in our collective imagination, it carries a huge blind spot. It hinders our capacity to see real solutions emerging from simple people in their struggle to make technologies they have in hand suitable for our needs. In this post, I will expose this blindness by presenting a force that makes real innovation happen: the culture of repair.

Jackson (2014) defines that, in scientific computation thinking, repair is something that comes after innovation. In his words:

 “innovation is reserved for new and computationally intensive “bright and shiny tools,” while repair tends to disappear altogether, or at best is relegated to the mostly neglected story of people (researchers, information managers, beleaguered field technicians) working to fit such artifacts to the sticky realities of field-level practices and needs. In both cases, dominant productivist imaginings of technology locate innovation, with its unassailable standing, cultural cachet, and valorized economic value, at the top of some change or process, while repair lies somewhere else: lower, later, or after innovation in process and worth.”

Given this distinction, I ask myself who can afford innovation. If innovation is to solve problems effectively and in scale, why can’t repair be considered a genuinely innovative force as it is the way that most people in our unequal world find to transform things that are already in hand as tools in their daily lives? 

Jackson exposes repair as “subtle acts of care”, where “human value is preserved and extended, and the complicated work of fitting to the varied circumstances of organizations, systems, and lives is accomplished”. Using the term “care”, which is profoundly human and feminine in many aspects, makes me think about how it pushes the “human-centered design” concept, usually associated with real innovation, to another level. Repair, especially for those in economic and social fragility, may be translated as innovating to survive.

Ernesto Oroza, a Cuban designer and architect, makes this clear in his ethnographic research about Cuba’s DIY culture. To support the idea that receiving large grants and infrastructure to Digital Humanities projects hinders scholars from acquiring an intimate knowledge of digital technologies and, therefore, develop their own digital humanities knowledge, Oroza presents his concept of Moral Modulator: 

“As opposed to Le Corbusier’s modulor, a physical scale based on human proportions to bridge discrepancies in measurement, the Moral Modulor provides us with a moral scale to bridge divergent measures. The proportion is the need, and its basic units are survival and love”.

In another moment, he illustrates that the Moral Modular is an individual who has the impulse to rebuild human life. He does it for his children or his family. His days are busy with searching for food, water, resources, or finding a roof.

To summarize, although innovation is firmly attached to privileged places and people, supported by the dual concept of designs and users, repair should be considered genuine human-centered innovation, as it is a practice of care and survival. By trying to understand better the way the culture of repair takes place in different societies, and how solutions are incorporated into people’s lives (especially the ones with low income in undeveloped countries), traditional innovative centers would diminish its blindness about how new products are really used, as they are often resused and transformed.


Jackson, Steven J. 2014. “Rethinking Repair.” In Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, edited by Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Kirsten A. Foot, 221–40. The MIT Press.

Gil, Alex. 2016. “Interview with Ernesto Oroza.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein. University of Minnesota Press.

The mapping project: André Breton’s Nadja (1928)

Updated Map Blog of Oct. 12, Felicity Howlett

Shortly before taking up this project, I became fascinated with Breton’s novel, Nadja. It occurred to me that I might experience it in more depth if I had better knowledge of Breton’s “circle,” and of the streets and areas of Paris that he mentions. Nadja is a small book—a mere 160 pages, yet out of the pages tumbled rafts of individuals and places. I realized that my plan was grander than either my time or competence permitted, but I thought I could at least give it a try. The result is offered in two parts because 1) the computer program became so sluggish that it was nearly impossible to proceed, and 2) a natural break in the material offered an opportunity to split it.  

Part 1 has no “maps.” It is simply a mapping (connecting) of individuals named in the text to photos or portraits, birth and death dates, subjects, and interests. Part 2 includes a few small maps intended to illustrate areas of Paris where Nadja and Breton spent time together. There are no legends attached to the maps. I hope they are self-explanatory. The reader can manipulate the area included in each map by the plus and minus signs, pop-ups refer to specific locations that are highlighted in the blog, and arrows indicate the general direction of movement. I need more experience in custom tuning!

Breton includes 44 plates in his story – photos of shops, streets, old buildings, portraits and art works of associates, and drawings by Nadja. Near the conclusion, he discusses his intent: “I have begun by going back to look at several of the places to which this narrative happens to lead. I wanted in fact—with some of the people and some of the objects—to provide a photographic image of them taken at the special angle from which I myself had looked at them.  On this occasion, I realized that most of the places more or less resisted my venture, so that, as I see it, the illustrated part of Nadja is quite inadequate” (151-152). 

If Breton found his own visual supports ‘inadequate,’ why would I think that adding another layer to this collection could be of any use?  Focusing on my own interests, I found that exploring neighborhoods of Paris and learning a little about Breton’s associates and associations, helped bridge the gap of time passing as well as of language and distance in miles (or kilometers).  However, my presentation is both subjective, in that I looked especially at areas that captured my attention, and a creation of chance, as I had to rely on what I could obtain, and many items of interest were not available.

The birth and death dates and brief descriptions of personages and photographs are almost all taken from Wikipedia and Wikimedia sources. Plate numbers refer to the reproductions in Nadja, and page numbers designate specific passages. Breton’s Nadja, including the photographic reproductions, is available for download from the web at  https://monoskop.org/images/2/2e/Breton_Andre_Nadja_1960_EN.pdf

Blog #4- Caring for infrastructure

The topic and the texts of this week are, to me, evocative of Les glaneurs et la glaneuse (The Gleaners and I, 2000), Agnes Varda’s splendid documentary about modern-day “gleaners:” people who live off “leftovers,” be they discarded food or broken objects. In reading, I felt like a gleaner too: the new texts kept pointing at texts we have read, and I began rescuing bits and pieces from past weeks, making connections, and recycling knowledge.

There is an interesting dialogue between “Capacity through care” (B. Nowviskie, 2019) and past articles that reflected upon the dangers of replicating exploitation dynamics through archive building. Texts such as “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities” (Gallon, 2016) and “More Scale, More Questions: Observations from Sociology” (McMillan, 2016) come to mind. They warned us of big data’s unintended consequence: burying humans. They presented us with alternative methodologies functioning as antidotes for the voracity of knowing it all, preserving it all, and publishing it all that characterizes our western practice of research –a practice that has been propelled by the ongoing development of powerful digital tools (“Toward Slow Archives,” Christen & Anderson, 2019).

In “Capacity through care,” however, Nowviskie tells us to fear not. She tries to assuage our humanist anxiety “about data-driven research and inquiry ‘at scale’,” and to dispel our “deep-seated—and ill-timed—discomfort with the very notion of increased capacity in the humanities.” She suggests that, if we embrace a feminist ethics of care while we tackle our digital humanities tasks, data-driven research will help us to see connections among parts, and relations with the whole, without losing a sense of empathy toward the object of our research. She invokes a feminist ethics of care.

Susan L. Star in “The ethnography of infrastructure” (1999) summons an ethics of care too, albeit not explicitly, as she invites us to think of our computers as sewers, and of digital infrastructure as the architecture of our homes. The way we build these “objects” will markedly affect our functioning, our lives. In her article, the ethics of care is also present in the act of making “invisible work” visible in our projects.

The relational is as present in this text as it is in the one above: infrastructure has relational properties. Moreover, the relational is encouraged in the practice of partnering ethnographers and computer scientists “for the purpose of usability.” We must build infrastructure, like archives, in dialogue with the community that will use them, and with utter respect toward its group practices and culture (again: “Toward slow archives”).

Star also extends a call to her readers to find the master narratives that guide the development of infrastructure, a topic we have seen in most past articles: the importance of detecting underlying stereotypes and presumptions at all levels of the DH work.

Miriam Posner’s “See no evil” is also related to relatedness, or lack thereof, in that it investigates fragmentation in knowledge about supply chains operations, and the human consequences of such. Modularity, or rigid compartmentalization, enables blind spots in the distribution of goods by technological means. Modularity acts as a defense mechanism –denial– that keeps us from seeing the traumatizing processes of supply-chain operations, and to go on enjoying our gadgets in unproblematic ways.

“Rethinking Repair” (S. Jackson, 2014) and “Interview with Ernesto Orozco” (A. Gil, 2016) align with the feminist ethics of care and relationality when they promulgate a connection to our objects beyond the consumptionist “use-and-discard” model. Gil, in his take on Orozco’s “technological disobedience” concept, invites digital humanists to break apart, so to speak, their instruments of work and reassemble or reuse them for a longer life or for an entirely different life. Gil also takes from Orozco the rejection of “finitude:” and object is never finished, whole; it’s life is never overdetermined by its initial intended use.

An interesting idea of Gil’s: easy access to digital tools becomes, paradoxically, an impediment to getting to know them, that is, to connect with them. In other words, wealth separates us from the know-how. We become expert ignorant-users of technology.

I write from a 2011 MacBook Pro that works just fine, but that I am forced to replace because I can’t upgrade its operating system any longer. Orozco’s laptop power cable broke down when he was responding to Gil’s interview questions. He considered buying a new one, but decided to search for ways to repair it.

Although I find the invitation to break my computer apart quite tempting, à la Cuba, I will never know what to do with its tripe, no matter how much I read about putting it back together or reusing its parts. As a society, we have much to learn about, and fight against, programmed obsolescence. An ethics of care may guide us in this process: rather than attaching ourselves to objects as a result of unbridled consumption, let’s care for them.

Des glaneuses, by Jean-François Millet – The 19th century painting that inspired Varda’s The Gleaners and I.
Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20111149

PRAXIS MAPPING – Community Colleges of New York

Click here to view my map

This past summer after reading the novel Klara and the Sun at work, my colleagues and I were asked to think about a line of inquiry. My inquiry is around stigma in community colleges. I believe that stigma is connected to a person’s mindset, which can be affected by a person’s background such as gender, and race. This led me to think about mapping community colleges student populations. 

Mapping platform 

A determining factor of what platform I would use for the praxis is that I didn’t want my map to be static. Although I knew leaflet would provide endless opportunity, I do not currently possess the confidence to use an interface that requires a lot of coding.  With that in mind, I opted for Tableau. It was easy to install the desktop app and to upload the data, however I struggled to populate the map. 


Tableau needs coordinates, however if possible, it will generate the longitudes and latitudes. Given that I was using the community college address, and the fact that tableau generated longitudes and latitude, I thought I was fine. Unfortunately not all of the community colleges were showing.  This resulted in me having to research how to get the coordinates.  

I discover a google add on called geocode. Which allows me to convert a list of addresses on google sheets into coordinates. If you have multiple Gmail like myself, the add on may have difficulties working. What worked for me was switching to incognito mode.  

Formatting the data 

As part of the interactive mapping, I wanted to present some of the data as a pie. It took some time to work on the marks to understand how to create the pie. Once I figured it out, I unfortunately ran into another hurdle. The design of my map makes it too cluster to present the race population. I then tried to populate the gender population and discovered that when hovering over the data it only gives the percentage of that gender. If I chose to include the percentage of both genders, it would then duplicate one of the gender percentages, which could confuse the audience viewing my map. 

Aside from the visual presentation, I unfortunately encountered some other data struggles. One item I couldn’t figure out, is how to organize my data so the gender (male and female) would be next to each other, as well as the race. Another origination issue I discovered is that not all names of the community colleges are visible, one must zoom in to view some of the other community colleges due to an overlap on the other community college’s name. 

As seen above, the percentage for female was missing since we are viewing the side for male. If I made the gender population a constant detail, the gender (in this case male) would become visible twice.


My mapping concept came pretty easy to me, I wish I could say making it come to life was just as easy.  I had to work on organizing the data, a bit more than I expected, and Tableau sadly was more of a challenge than I imagined it to be. One major takeaway I got out of creating this map, is your vision of the map may change, as you need to determine what is the priority. While I really wanted to make the map visually appealing and have the data be more interactive, the priority was being able to provide all data. Lastly, after further exploring Tableau, I can see myself enjoying it for data visualization, however I am not certain about creating more maps.  

Design & Infrastructure: Examining Inequities Inherent to Supply Chains

The world of commerce and business is one with billions, if not trillions, of small, individual, interconnected, ‘moving parts.’ I consider every factory, each company, everything they produce, mine, manufacture, source, and sell to be a moving part. All of these moving parts require people to do the work of planting the seed that will become a crop to be harvested, processed, and shipped around the world by other laborers. Often, the supply chain does not end there, and grocery store employees will keep inventory of this particular food, shelve it, scan it when it is sold, and replace it when it runs low.

In an ideal world, each and every laborer at every stage of the supply chain would be paid a fair, living wage. However, this is rarely the case. The CEO of Starbucks has a staggering net worth of $5.7 billion, while workers can expect to make minimum wage of 15 dollars an hour in NYC, while that number drops to 10 dollars an hour in Texas, which is, admittedly, slightly above Texas’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The farmer who planted the seeds and did the work of tending them, watering them, and harvesting them, can expect to be paid even less, according to an article from GreenBiz:

“In 2012, Starbucks reported its average price for green beans was $2.56 per pound. However, that is the price it paid to the broker, not to the farmer. After backing out shipping, insurance, importer and exporter and mill costs, that price would be closer to $2.20 paid per pound to the farmer. By 2014, Starbucks was only paying $1.72 to the broker (maybe $1.36 to the farmer). By paying the lower amount, Starbucks took $387 million out of the farmers’ pockets. As green prices keep falling, Starbucks has continued to pay coffee farmers less, while charging consumers more.” – Dean Cycon

This is, perhaps, one of the greatest ethical concerns surrounding modern commerce, consumerism, and capitalism – that those at the very bottom of the supply chain, often working in the Global South and suffering from extreme poverty, make pennies on the dollar, while the CEO lines his pocket at the expense of the farmers, the factory workers, the delivery truck drivers, the minimum-wage laborers, the environment, and the consumer. This dichotomy is discussed at length in Posner’s “See No Evil.”

In “Capacity Through Care,” Nowviskie suggests that feminist ethics and thought are, perhaps, part of the solution. She says, “A feminist ethic of care seeks instead to illuminate the relationships of small components, one to another, within great systems—just as many platforms for large-scale visualization and analysis and scholars’ research agendas do.” This feminist ethics of care is a tool we can use to expose what is in “the black box” and shed light on unfair, unjust practices.

In the words of Audre Lorde, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” We need new tools, such as feminist ethics and praxis, to start to tease apart the oppressive patriarchal framework that keeps so many people trapped in poverty and empowers the cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, white male of European descent above all other groups.  

As Ernesto Oroza puts it, “renewed answers will always come from the resistance.”

Cages in the City


I used ArcGIS StoryMaps to map active and defunct jail facilities in New York City. My map intends to visualize the presence and distribution of these facilities in the city, so as to correct against the tendency of these facilities to become invisible and hidden.


I sourced data on the facilities from the Bureau of Prisons, the NYC Department of Corrections, and Wikipedia. I used blue markers for active facilities and red markers for defunct facilities. In my annotations, I included the lifespan of each facility and distinguishing details. I tried to make my map “non-sovereign” by avoiding dehumanizing language like “inmates,” and instead making clear that people are confined in these “facilities.”


The map shows that jails and prisons have historically been concentrated in Manhattan and around the East River. The map also shows that the number of active facilities is rivaled by the number of defunct facilities. Eight out of ten of the facilities operated by the NYC DOC are located on Rikers, and a more detailed map would lay out the size and distribution of facilities on the island. It’s interesting to note that, outside of Rikers, there are as many federal facilities as there are NYC DOC facilities in the city.


I found ArcGIS easy to use but limited, as you can’t easily integrate graphs into the map or visualize data. I also could have used a feature to better integrate timelines or chronology. The program is perhaps most useful for drawing connections between different locations.

My map shows that jails and prisons are historically quite populous in NYC, and asks what it means for a city to have so many sites of confinement. How does our liberty relate to their confinement? Further, by visualizing the sites of closed prisons during our current wave of prison closures, the map anticipates a an abolitionist future in which prisons are a historical anomaly.

Praxis Assignment – Map of my Spotify Algorithmic Cohorts

The Project
I learned recently that Spotify displays the top five cities where listeners for a given artist are located. When I started poking around the various artists I listen to, I noticed that there were a lot of repeat cities, Chicago in particular. When prompted to create a map for the class, I thought it would be fun to map where the heaviest concentration of listeners of my favorite artists are located. This map would not give much space any kind of analysis or comparison, but would be fun for me to see.

Software choice
I chose to use Tableau for two reasons: first, it has a very user-friendly interface, with being able to easily drag and drop features and attributes into the map and very easily toggle symbolizations like size and color. Second, I have never made my own dataset before, and I liked how easily Tableau can work with messy data and let you work with the data within the software itself once the data was already connected. For instance, I did not have geographical data in my dataset and was able to link my cities to points of latitude and longitude in Tableau itself.

The Data
Using a service called mytopspotify.io, I was able to pull the top ten most played artists of all time on my Spotify account. They were David Bazan, Milo, Pedro the Lion, Mount Eerie, Aesop Rock, The Front Bottoms, WHY?, Open Mike Eagle, Immortal Technique, and Built to Spill. I then referred to each individual artist’s Spotify page to pull the top five cities that each of these artists are listened to on the platform, along with the number of listeners in each city (it is worth noting that there could be and likely are crossover listeners for multiple artists, so my numbers are probably thrown off by the same user being counted more than once in the total count for a given city). The dataset I made was as such:

Making the map
The process of making the map was relatively simple. I set the latitude and longitude for each city in Tableau and dragged the data for my cities into the X and Y axes to create my map. I dragged the data for the artists and the amount of listeners into the details for each point so each particular city would display the data linked to it. I set the point for each city to be visualized as a pie chart so show what portion of each city was made up by listeners of what artist, with each artist having its own unique color. Lastly I dragged the data for the mount of listener for each artist per state into the size featuring for each point. This made it so that cities with more listeners of my artists would be larger in proportion to cities with less overall listeners of my top artists. The result was the following map:

Link to project

The results of the map were not surprising or all that interesting (it makes perfect sense that listening habits of fans of these indie artists are concentrated to large cities), but was a great exercise in practicing mapping and thinking through all the necessary steps to visualize the data. I think there would be many more decisions to choices to explore, but this was an excellent introduction.

Blog Post #3 – Praxis Assignment – Dutch and Spanish colonization of Taiwan

Having lived in Taiwan for 2 years when I was 5, and taking family trips throughout middle school and high school to Taiwan to visit my grandparents and uncles on my mothers side, I recently became curious about Taiwan’s sovereignty and the political tensions with Republic of China that continue on until this day. My mother has described tensions between a friend who has insisted that she is Chinese, just like them, despite the fact that she identifies as Taiwanese.

However, it was not known to me until years ago that there are indigenous people of Taiwan who are still seeking recognition from Taiwan and China. On January 16, 2016, Tsai Ing-wen won the presidential election of Taiwan with over 56% of the vote. It signaled a turning point in Taiwan’s democracy, and Tsai accepted the “will of the Taiwanese people”. She became the first Taiwanese leader to officially apologize to the island’s indigenous population, acknowledging that past governments had failed to implement the indigenous peoples’ basic law. The indigenous people’s basic law that was passed in 2005 was to grant a wide range of rights to indigenous residents, and promised progress during her administration.

There are about 400,000 aboriginals in Taiwan, making up about 2% of 22 million population. While researching the tribes, it was noted that the official classification schemes originally developed by Japanese government anthropologists centuries ago, so some classification names are rejected by the tribes themselves. The Taro (also known as Sediq) people reject the classification to be the ‘subtribe’ of Tayal (also known as Atayal), and the Tao tribe reject the name “Yamei” given to them.

There are 16 tribes officially recognized by the government (up from nine originally). The 16 are:  Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Yami, Thao, Kavalan, Truku, Sakizaya, Sediq, Hla’alua and Kanakanavu.

In addition, there are still more tribes seeking recognition, including many Pingpu tribes who formerly lived in the plains regions of Taiwan.

During my research, it became apparent to me that mapping the movements of tribes through colonization from the Portuguese (1626 – 1642), the Dutch (1624 – 1662), the Ming Dynasty (1662 – 1683), the Ching Dynasty (1663 – 1895), the Japanese (1895 – 1945), and finally the Republic of China– would prove to be difficult if I were to do it justice. Also the idea of trying to map tribes who’s classifications came from Japanese government anthropologists centuries ago, and who’s classifications are still being debated today in order to gain recognition from the current Taiwanese government, would be confusing and problematic to say the least.

I also noted that in some of the current existing maps locating indigenous tribes, certain tribes have different spelling variations, whereas certain tribes were not mentioned at all.

Unsatisfied with the google searches, I called my dad, who studied Chinese history in college, inquiring about any books he has on the colonization of Taiwan. He sent me several maps from books, however most Taiwanese maps he found displayed the Aboriginals locations during Japanese occupancy.

“Formosa: From the Latest Japanese Government Surveys, With nomenclature showing Japanese and Chinese Pronunciation: compiled by James W. Davidson. 1901” from the book The Island of Formosa by James W. Davidson
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895 – 1945 Edited by Ramon H. Myers and Mark R. Peattie
Through Formosa: An Account of Japan’s Island Colony by Own Rutter

The book he sent me The Island of Formosa Past and Present by James W. Davidson, included a chapter that went into great detail the colonization by the Dutch, so instead of mapping out the Indigenous tribes I decided to map out the Dutch expeditions, starting 1624, and the Spanish. I decided to map out the the travels of the Dutch from Batavia (present day Jakarta, Indonesia) and the Spanish from the northern harbors of the Philipines.

Link to Map “Dutch and Spanish Colonization of Taiwan”

Praxis Assignment—Historical Haunted Places of New York State—A Map of the most symbolic haunted places in New York State–by Lu


Every single street, building, house, or hidden place in New York has a story to tell. From urban legends to old mouth-to-mouth tales and beyond, New York offers people many historical and mysterious places to discover, visit, and explore. It is precisely in these places where rich architectural styles and stories of love, passion, and tragedy intertwine and trespass the limits of what science can explain. Inspired by this spicy combination of supernatural stories and paranormal phenomena, I decided to create a map of the most popular haunted places in New York State.


In order to create this map, I collected information from diverse websites dedicated to promoting historical information about haunted places in the state of New York. It was difficult to choose the locations to be included in the map. This is because there are more than 30 places that are considered haunted in New York State. I decided to focus my project on old and enigmatic buildings and a few cemeteries, which have been repeatedly featured in magazines, films, and websites dedicated to the discussion of paranormal activity. Thus, the map I created contains 27 of the most famous haunted places in New York. Moreover, I decided to create a map tour, which allowed me to plot points on the map and add media content to these points. Therefore, the map below contains an image of the haunted places included in my map as well as a brief description of the paranormal phenomena observed in these places. I also included a link to websites containing more extensive information about these locations with the purpose of satisfying the curiosity of readers.

The Process:

I created a story map using the ArcGIS online platform. I used a story map because I like the idea of expressing my ideas and thoughts in order to create a narrative along with the visual tools of maps. My experience using this platform was in general good. I like the map tour tool because it is pretty flexible in terms of changing layouts and designs. For instance, you can change layouts, or even the whole map tour design, at any point by clicking the slide panel without losing your previous added content.

By working on this project, I learned that there are no limits to map an idea. The only requirement needed is to have imagination and be able to collect the adequate information to plot on the map. In my particular case, I really like the whole process of navigating and exploring different websites about haunted places in New York State. I have to mention that there are more than 30 haunted places in New York State, but I decided to include only 27 of them. As I was completing my research, I learned how rich the history of New York is. From abandoned asylums to old houses of important government officials from the independence time, the study of history shows us, one more time, that it is important to understand people and places of the past in order to understand the mysterious legends created around them.

The Inspiration Behind the Story Map:

I have always been fascinated about the story of haunted places. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Merchant’s House Museum located in New York city. The story tells us that after the death of Gertrude Tredwell, the youngest member of the large Tredwell family in 1933, the house was sold and turned into a museum. Visitors reported seeing the spirits of Gertrude, her family, and servants of the house walking around the building. Thus, I was very impressed with the house, the construction, the decoration, the old rooms, and the vintage garments. Everything made me feel like I was traveling back in time. So, I could not resist choosing the theme of haunted places in New York State for my assignment praxis.

This is the list of the places:

  1. The Sagamore Resort (Bolton Landing, NY): This place is best known as one of the best haunted hotels in the US. Visitors have reported seeing a ghostly couple in the restaurant, a ghost in the elevator, or a ghost of a playful young child on the golf course among other spooky stories. 
  2. Rolling Hills Asylum (East Bethany, NY): This historical and real asylum is considered one of the most haunted places in the world. This place was the refuge for widows and orphans who suffered some kind of mentally illness. Many unclaimed dead were buried on the property.
  3. Dr. Best House & Medical Museum (Middleburgh, NY): Located in Schoharie County, paranormal investigators and witnesses were able to capture the sound of piano playing and ghostly voices.
  4. Bannerman Castle (Fishkill, NY): Some native American tribes believed that this place was haunted by evil spirits, and these rumors were also promoted by Dutch sailors.
  5. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Sleepy Hollow, NY):  This is the final resting place of famous figures, such as Washington Irving, author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was set in the adjacent burying ground at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow.
  6. Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester, NY): A legend tells that Native Americans warned people not to build anything on this land. Strange lights, orbs, and ghostly figures have been seen by visitors of this place.
  7. Forest Lawn Cemetery (Buffalo, NY): Visitors reported seeing ghosts of children, soldiers, and even a phantom car.
  8. Merchant’s House Museum (New York, NY): After the death of Gertrude Tredwell,, the youngest member of the large Tredwell family  in 1933, the house was sold and turned into a museum. Visitors reported seeing the spirits of Gertrude and her family, and servants  of the house walking around the building.
  9. Morris-Jumel Mansion  (New York, NY): This house was built in 1765 by Roger Morris, a British military officer, and it was used as a headquarters for both sides in the American Revolution. Ghostly figures and strange voices are among the paranormal phenomena witnessed by visitors.
  10. The Amityville Horror House (Amityville, NY): Located in Long Island, this house was the location in which the DeFeo family murders took place. The story of the crimes became a book and a series of movies.
  11. Palmyra Historical Museum (Palmyra, NY): Visitors have reported a larger number of paranormal experiences such as strange noises and ghostly apparitions of people and even cats.
  12. Iron Island Museum (Buffalo, NY): This building was a former church that was built in 1883. Visitors and paranormal investigators have recorded spectral voices and taken pictures and videos of the ghosts that haunt this place.
  13. Buffalo Central Terminal (Buffalo, NY): Built in the late 1920s, this abandoned train station is believed to be haunted by many ghostly figures, who have been seen and captured in pictures by visitors and investigators.
  14. Belhurst Castle and Winery (Geneva, NY): Visitors to this place  report hearing people screaming and the voices of children playing. Isabella is the name of  the most famous ghost of Belhurst Castle. She was a beautiful opera singer, and she is often seen dressed in white.
  15. Utica State Hospital (Uitica, NY): Formerly known as the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica, visitors of this place reported seeing faces looking out the window and hearing voices screaming.
  16. Hyde Hall (Cooperstown, NY): More than 150 years of paranormal experiences have been documented by visitors of this building. These experiences include ghostly apparitions, footsteps and sheets being pulled off beds.
  17. New York State Capitol (Albany, NY): Visitors to this place claim seeing flickering lights and ghostly figures as well as clocks mysteriously rewinding by eight minutes. 
  18. Letchworth Village (Thiells, NY): This was a medical facility for mentally and physically disabled children. Visitors report seeing moving objects and listening to ghostly sounds.
  19. Fort William Henry Museum (Lake George, NY): Fort William Henry was lost when thousands of French soldiers attacked and destroyed the military stronghold during the French and Indian War. Visitors to this place report seeing shadowy and ghostly figures as well as hearing voices and whispers.
  20. Landmark Theater (Syracuse, NY): People report seeing three ghostly figures. Two of them were actors that died in the building under tragic circumstances, whose names were Clarissa and Oscar. The third ghost is known as Charlie the janitor, who died in the building because of natural causes during the 1970’s.
  21. Burn Brae Mansion (Glen Spey, NY): Visitors to this place report seeing a woman pacing the halls and hearing unexplained noises, footsteps, and music from an unseen piano.
  22. Seward House Museum (Auburn, NY): People report ghostly encounters with members of the Seward family and other ghosts lurking the place.
  23. The Winery at Marjim Manor (Appleton, NY): The owner of this place and visitors report seeing friendly ghostly figures of people and animals.
  24. The White Horse Tavern (New York, NY): This place is believed to be haunted by the spirits of famous writers and musicians such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Norman Mailer, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison.
  25. The Dakota (New York, NY): This building is tragically famous because its south entrance was the location of the murder of John Lennon. The building was also  used for exterior shots of the film “Rosemary’s Baby.” It is believed to be haunted by many spirits including the ghost of John Lennon.
  26. The Campbell Apartment (New York, NY): This is a historic bar located inside the Grand Central Station in New York City. It started out as an office space for John W. Campbell in 1923. Customers and staff reported being tapped from behind without anyone in sight, hearing sounds of an organ playing, and seeing doors mysteriously shutting on their own.
  27. Grand Central Station (New York, NY): Visitors report seeing the spirit of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his dog Fala. Also, people say that a smoking steam locomotive could be observed even though the tracks were electrified.


In conclusion, I really like the whole process of creating a map. The possibilities are unlimited, and the only thing that we need is to collect the information and plug this into the software. I believe that ArcGIS online is a functional and dynamic platform that helps us to design interactive maps and story maps for any kind of project. Thus, after doing this assignment, I can say that digital maps have become an important tool for scholars to unveil the untold stories about historical events, showing a new visual, social and cultural idea about it. In my case, my goal of mapping the most haunted places of New York State is to provide people with adequate geographical information about important ghostly landmarks in New York. So, they can have a visual idea of the locations of these places in order to consider exploring and visiting them in the future as their next vacation destination. I would definitely like to work on expanding my map to include more locations where paranormal activity has been reported in the past and also more recently in New York State.

Here is the link of my map: s://arcg.is/mi1KC