Civil War Governors of Kentucky Editor Hosts Webinar for Kentucky’s Librarians and Archivists

Civil War Governors of Kentucky (CWGK) assistant editor Tony Curtis hosted a webinar on October 14, 2016 entitled “Researching the Civil War Governors of Kentucky” for Kentucky’s librarians and archivists as a part of the Continuing Education program offered through the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA). The webinar focused on the launch of “Early Access“–the first stage of accessibility–in June 2016, allowing users to browse and keyword search over 10,000 documents.

The next step–“Annotation Beta”–is to deliver approximately 1,500 documents, annotated and set within dense social and geographic networks through NHPRC funding. The presentation demonstrated how CWGK will shape the ways researchers, students, and teachers will explore the past in the future.

Click HERE to listen to the webinar.

Voices of the Filson Interview on WXOX 97.1FM (Louisville, Ky.)

Listen to Civil War Governors of Kentucky assistant editor Tony Curtis as he returns to the Filson Historical Society archives to discuss the project and its future plans about annotation and social networking on an episode of the Voices of the Filson on WXOX 97.1 FM with the Filson’s own associate curator of collections Aaron Rosenblum.

Audio provided by Voices of the Filson on WXOX 97.1FM and the Filson Historical Society.

The Rogue Historian Podcast

Listen to #CWGK project director Patrick Lewis discuss the project on an episode of The Rogue Historian with Keith Harris.

We discuss:

  • Digital history and how it is useful
  • A historical “social network” being developed through CWGK annotation
  • The place in digital humanities for early career historians
  • How to use the documentary project’s user guides

Listen to the episode here

rogue

Kentucky Ancestors Online Feature

Want to learn how to search the new Civil War Governors site? How to use its features to build a research project for class or for family or local history? Interested in applying these 10,000+ documents to your home town or family tree?

Read our new feature in Kentucky Ancestors Online, the KHS digital magazine devoted to Kentucky families, locations, stories, resources, and migration.

Project Director Patrick Lewis examines the historical roots of a local legend from Trigg County.

Closing Out Grant Year 2015-16

The Civil War Governors of Kentucky staff is wrapping up the grant year for both of our major federal grants, from the NEH and the NHPRC. This is a good time to reflect back on what we have accomplished.

And we are now poised to enter a new grant year. What will Civil War Governors be doing between now and next October?

Civil War Governors is also going live in 2017, hosting a major scholarly conference in Frankfort and presenting at professional organizations and community groups across Kentucky.

A Facet of Early Access: How do I search?

by Tony Curtis

This might seem like an obvious topic, but there are several ways to search the Early Access website. As a matter of fact, there are three ways: (1) Use the “Browse” function; (2) Use the “Search Collection” function; or (3) Use the “Advanced Search” function. It depends on the objective of your search, as to which function best suits your particular needs.

The “Browse” function is an appropriate choice for individuals who would like to search a particular repository and/or a particular collection. For example, say you are interested in researching the first Confederate provisional governor of Kentucky—George W. Johnson—and you know that the Kentucky Historical Society houses a collection of personal papers for George W. Johnson. You would click the “Browse” button on the main menu in the top right quadrant of the website. Then scroll down until you see the “Kentucky Historical Society” repository button. CLICK. Then scroll until you find the “George W. Johnson Papers” button. CLICK. And commence your browsing of the collection at the item level.

Browse

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If you would like to use the quickest search function, then you are in luck. The “Search Collection” function appears on the main screen—and every screen thereafter—for ease of user access. Just plug in your term or terms and commence your search of the entire collection. You can also narrow your search by using simple or Boolean search operators. For example, a search for Benjamin F. Buckner (no quotation marks) returns 180 search results, while “Benjamin F. Buckner” (with quotation marks) returns one search result. Searching Benjamin AND Buckner (with Boolean operators) returns sixteen search results. So try different combinations of words and operators when using the “Search Collection” function.

The most complex and most effective search function to use is the “Advanced Search” function. This is a faceted search, meaning that is allows the researcher to narrow search results by using many different criteria that have been built into the metadata by project editors. To use this search function, click the “Advanced Search” option underneath the “Search Collection” search box on any page. You will arrive at a page that allows you to target your search by using three specific keyword search fields. You can select from a list of eleven fields to narrow your search: Accession Number, Collection, Date of Creation, Dates Mentioned, Document Genre, Document Title, Editorial Note, Item Location, Place of Creation, Repository, and Transcription. Any combination of these fields will help you narrow your search. For example, say I wanted to find all documents sent to Thomas E. Bramlette from Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky, in 1865. I would conduct the following faceted search to Thomas E. Bramlette (Field: Document Title); 1865 (Field: Date of Creation); and Covington, Kenton County (Field: Place of Creation).

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This faceted search returns twenty-eight search results, while a Boolean search conducted using the “Search Collection” returns fifty-six results. A simple search with all these terms and no operators returns 8,910 documents. Thus we see the benefit of the faceted search function. I would suggest experimenting with all the search functions and see which one fits your research objectives the best and it may change from search to search. Early Access currently contains just over 10,000 documents and this number is only going to continue to grow over time.

So what do you say, how about a few searches? Bet you can’t search just once.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Welcome to Early Access—Join us for a tour!

By Tony Curtis

The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWG-K) has launched Early Access, the first stage of accessibility, allowing users to browse and keyword search over 10,000 documents. The diversity of texts and the wide array of historical themes contained in Early Access documents places CWG-K alongside the most forward-looking documentary editing projects. There are several bells and whistles, so join us for a quick tour of the new website!

Home Page

The first stop is the Early Access homepage. No, that is not Santa Claus, it is Kentucky’s first Union Civil War Governor—Beriah Magoffin—a member of the Democratic Party and a supporter of Southern Rights. And there are more unidentified individuals at the top of the page showing you what to expect from these documents—a diverse collection of historical actors from Civil War-era Kentucky.

You can start to engage documents through the “Search Collection” and “Advanced Search” functions or by using the “Explore” function moving down the right side of the page. But more on the search capabilities in an upcoming blog post, as that will require more attention. Stay tuned!

Moving through the website, you can engage the documents and additional content through the “Featured Collection”, “Featured Exhibit”, or “News” icons at the bottom of the page:

Home Page_2

You can engage additional content through four drop down menus located in the top right quadrant of the website—“About”, “Reference”, “Browse”, and “Exhibits”. Let’s take a look at each of the drop down menus individually.

Clicking on the “About” menu will further introduce you to the project and the Early Access team. But there is more! The drop down menu also includes information about the document selection process, editorial processes, and what is beyond Early Access for the CWG-K team. Take some time to look through this information, as much of it documents the foundations of the CWG-K project—what it is and what it is not.

About

Moving along to the “Reference” menu, one can gain further intellectual access and historical understanding of Civil War-era Kentucky through rich governors’ biographies, detailed congressional & judicial district data, and a bibliography for further reading. The congressional & judicial data is particularly exciting! This data is the result of our original research project to map all civilian and military structures from Civil War Kentucky—the beautiful mind project drawn on large Post-it notes on our office walls. There is so much more data to share moving forward so keep visiting for future updates!

Reference

The next menu is the “Browse” function. Instead of conducting a keyword search, researchers may decide to browse our collection by repository and collection name. Click the name of the repository to start browsing our collections from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs Records and Research Branch, Kentucky Historical Society, Mary Todd Lincoln House, and Maker’s Mark Distillery.

Browse

And, finally, the “Exhibits” menu, which currently includes The Caroline Chronicles. Caroline’s is just one of the personally compelling and historically instructive stories that the Civil War Governors of Kentucky will help researchers and teachers tell. Hers is a story of race, slavery, emancipation; domestic service, motherhood, and gender; true crime, the law, and justice.

Exhibits

So where do we go from here? Early Access is the beginning of accessibility but not the end. The ultimate goal of CWG-K is to create a digital research environment within which a user can encounter the past multi-dimensionally through the documents and the powerful annotation network that links the documents together.

The next step is to deliver approximately 1,500 documents annotated and set within dense social and geographic networks. These documents, the first of a projected 40,000, will demonstrate how Civil War Governors will shape the ways researchers, students, and teachers will explore the past in the future.

To this end, Civil War Governors was awarded $62,400 in the May 2016 cycle of National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) funding. This grant will run from October 2016 to September 2017, and will support that next phase of work: publishing an annotation interface of 1,500 fully edited and linked documents.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Graduate Research Associates 2016-17

Overview

The Kentucky Historical Society seeks eight Graduate Research Associates (GRAs) familiar with 19th century United States history to write short informational entries for the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWG-K). GRAs will receive a stipend of $5,000 each and can work remotely from their home institutions.

Each GRA will annotate 150 assigned documents each. Each GRA must be a graduate student in at least the second year of a M.A. program in history or a related humanities discipline. In accordance with its commitment to facilitating relationships between history practitioners and organizations in Kentucky and nationally, KHS hopes that these GRA positions will help advance the professional skills of early-career historians in Kentucky and elsewhere. Preference will be given to candidates who are enrolled in graduate programs in history at Kentucky universities, though applicants worldwide are encouraged to apply. These positions are funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a branch of the National Archives.

CWG-K is an annotated, searchable, and freely-accessible online edition of documents associated with the chief executives of the commonwealth, 1860-1865. Yet CWG-K is not solely about the five governors; it is about reconstructing the lost lives and voices of tens of thousands of Kentuckians who interacted with the office of the governor during the war years. CWG-K will identify, research, and link together every person, place, and organization found in its documents. This web of hundreds of thousands of networked nodes will dramatically expand the number of actors in Kentucky and U.S. history, show scholars new patterns and hidden relationships, and recognize the humanity and agency of historically marginalized people. To see the project’s work to date, visit discovery.civilwargovernors.org.

Scope of Work

Each GRA will be responsible for researching and writing short entries on named persons, places, organizations, and geographical features in 150 documents. Each document contains an average of fifteen such entities. This work will be completed and submitted to CWG-K for fact-checking before June 30, 2017.

Research and writing will proceed according to project guidelines concerning research sources and methods, editorial information desired, and adherence house style. This will ensure 1) that due diligence is done to the research of each entity and 2) that information is recorded for each item in uniform ways which are easy to encode and search.

All research for the entries must be based in primary or credible secondary sources, and each GRA is expected to keep a virtual research file with notes and digital images of documents related to each entry. These will be turned over to CWG-K at the completion of the work. CWG-K will fact-check all entries for research quality and adherence to house style. CWG-K projects an average rate of one document annotated per two hours of work. Each GRA may expect to devote approximately 300 hours to the research—though the actual investment of time may vary.

Each GRA will work remotely. Interaction with the documents and the writing of annotations will take place in a web-based annotation tool developed for CWG-K, which can be dialed into from any location. CWG-K will make use of online research databases to make its work efficient and uniform. Other archival sources may be of value but are not required by the research guidelines. Securing access to the paid databases required by CWG-K (Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Louisville Courier Journal) is the responsibility of the GRA. If regular institutional access to these databases is not available to the GRA through a university or library, it is the responsibility of the GRA to purchase and use a subscription to these databases. KHS will not reimburse the GRA for any travel, copying, or other expenses incurred in CWG-K research.

In order to maintain quality and consistency as well as to foster a collegial and collaborative work culture, CWG-K will conduct weekly virtual “office hours” via Google Hangouts, during which GRAs are required to dial in, ask questions of staff, share expertise and research methods, and make connections with their peers at other universities. Virtual attendance at these office hours is mandatory, and multiple sessions may be offered to accommodate schedules.

The Kentucky Historical Society will hold copyright for all annotation research as work for hire.

Evaluation Criteria

A proposal should consist of at least a narrative statement of professional ability in the form of a cover letter, a CV, and two letters of recommendation. Additional supplementary materials that demonstrate capacity in the evaluation factors may also be included. Applications are due by September 16, 2016 to Tony Curtis, tony.curtis@ky.gov.

The Kentucky Historical Society will evaluate the proposals based on the following factors:

Research Experience (70 points): Describe your familiarity with research in 19th century U.S. history. Describe some projects you have undertaken. What sources have you used? Have you been published? Have you interpreted historical research in forms other than a scholarly peer-reviewed publication? How does the proposed research project differ from those you have undertaken in the past? Describe your familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of online research databases such as Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, ProQuest, and Google Books.

Project Experience (30 points): Describe any work you have done in the editing of historical documents. Discuss how a project such as CWG-K maintains balance between thorough research and production schedules. Have you worked on other collaborative projects in the field of history or otherwise? Describe your ability to meet deadlines and regulate workflow. Describe your understanding of and/or experience with the Digital Humanities. From what you know of the CWG-K project, how does it fit with current trends in the field? What do you hope to gain from working on the CWG-K project?

Institutional Affiliation (10 points): Additional points are available to applicants who are enrolled in graduate programs at Kentucky universities. Applicants claiming this status should discuss how they will use this experience to help build and sustain relationships among history organizations across the state and articulate why such relationships are valuable. This does not imply any relationship between KHS and the educational institution.

Civil War Governors Reviewed on HistoryNet

Ural Rev“Easily explored by browsing or keyword search, this superb site offers excellent resources for those whose reading, research and writing interests lay at the crossroads of the battlefield and the home front.”

Read more from University of Southern Mississippi Professor Susannah J. Ural’s review of the new Early Access interface from her Ural on URL column on HistoryNet:

http://www.historynet.com/the-war-on-the-net.htm

A Caroline Chronicles Update: A Research Journey Through the Louisville Daily Journal

By Tony Curtis

Just when you think that you have gathered all of the available information on the Caroline Chronicles (read all the documents on Early Access) you stumble across a digitized collection of the Louisville Daily Journal on archive.org. I am particularly interested in how news of the Blanche Levi murder was revealed to the public and how the ensuing case was covered by a prominent Louisville newspaper. And what did a deep dive into this collection uncover about the Caroline Chronicles? I invite you—our readers—to join me on this research trip!

The Levi family appears at various points in the newspaper from August 1862 until September 1863. Willis Levi—a steamboat engineer—first appears listed as a survivor of the Steamer Acacia disaster on August 30, 1862:

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

And again with his brother Elias Levi in an auctioneer advertisement on January 30, 1863:

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

The Levi’s are being mentioned regularly with this advertisement for their auctioning services, and Elias is even covered anonymously through a printed Jefferson County Sheriff’s advertisement for the sale of John West(ly)—Caroline’s husband. We see the original in the Jefferson County Court books in previously discovered documents. Elias Levi bought John West(ly), aged 25, on April 27, 1863 for $245:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

But what about the death of Blanche Levi—daughter of Willis and Anne Levi? The first mention of the death of Blanche occurs in the April 22, 1863 obituaries, her death occurring one day earlier. The obituary is brief, giving her age, when the funeral will occur, and a brief bible verse:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

The newspaper then falls silent for ten days. Not one mention of Blanche, the Levis, or Caroline—until May 2, 1863, when the newspaper prints, “For two weeks past we have withheld giving publicity to one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city, in order to give the officers ample time to ferret out the guilty parties.” They announce “the wretch”—Caroline—was arrested and faced arraignment that same morning. Showing the inherent racial bias of society, the newspaper supposes that Caroline could not have committed without accomplice, stating, “It was believed that the girl had been instigated to this deed by some fiend in human shape, but diligent investigation has been made, and no accessory has as yet been discovered. There is something very mysterious about the crime, from the fact that no cause whatever had been given to the girl to prompt her to wreak her vengeance in this horrible crime. If she has an accomplice we sincerely trust that the wretch will be brought to justice.”

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

This article also references Caroline’s status, they define her as “a contraband negro, from Tennessee, in the employ of Mr. Willis Levy.” Much like the previously discovered documents, Caroline’s status is constantly in flux. On May 2, 1863, the “Police Proceedings” section—the Civil War-era police blotter—announced “Caroline, a slave of James Deman, charged with poisoning a child of Willis Levi. The slave being too sick to be brought into court, the witnesses were recognized to go before the grand jury of the Circuit Court.” This gives us more insight into Caroline’s status, but it is also contradictory information. What was Caroline’s status—self-emancipated woman, contraband, slave, or a free woman of color (f.w.c.)? I am afraid newspaper coverage does not clarify Caroline’s status and as we concluded in prior research, her status remains inconclusive. It is unknown as to what the newspaper means by “too sick”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

On May 6, 1863, the grand jury of the Jefferson Circuit Court returned an indictment against “Caroline (a slave)”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

The June 10, 1863 Louisville Daily Journal announces the “Commonwealth vs Caroline (a slave)” case for trial as a part of the June 1863 docket of the Jefferson Circuit Court—the trial to be held on Wednesday, June 17, 1863.

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Further mention of Caroline’s case does not appear until June 19, 1863, when a guilty verdict is announced: “The negro woman who poisoned the family of Mr. Levi, of this city, some months since, from the effects of which one of his children, a sweet little girl, died, was yesterday convicted of murder in the first degree in the court now in session here. She will doubtless be hung.”

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

The next mention of Caroline is not until August 14, 1863—almost two months later—announcing when she is to be hanged “at the corner of Eighteenth and Broadway streets” in Louisville. And again on September 8, 1863, following a month long respite.

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

On September 11, 1863, Caroline is granted a second respite “for a few days” by Governor Thomas E. Bramlette “on account of some newly discovered testimony which may have some bearing on her case.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

And the new evidence convinced Governor Bramlette in favor of executive clemency, as the final mention of Caroline occurs on September 25, 1863, under the headline “Pardoned.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

So what have we learned from the Louisville Daily Journal coverage? The Levis were active members in the Louisville business community. We have more concrete dates on the death of Blanche Levi and the chronology of Caroline’s case. We know that the newspaper purposefully withheld any coverage of the case to allow for time to investigate the facts of the case and to arrest any suspects. The newspaper coverage further complicates Caroline’s status for us—Caroline inhabited many different worlds depending on time and place. We also learn that there is no additional coverage of “one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city”—no editorials, no letters to the editor . . . Nothing. So once again, a set of research questions has led us to more research questions—some of the questions remain, others have been developed. The search continues and we will update you as new evidence is uncovered.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.