Of what use are digitial humanities tools when there are no texts to mine, and no numbers to chart? How does one recover history without traditional historical documentation? The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford turned to a variety of other source materials beyond text to develop an understanding of the lived experience of the workers. The Project collaborated with archaeologists to study what the gathered material culture of the workers could say about the quotidian conditions of labor camp life. We also explored mapping and other forms of digital based visualizations and close examination of historical photography. Without a robust data base, we had to be creative and draw from a variety of sources. We will discuss these issues and share examples of how digital technologies help us pres- ent our work.
About the speakers:
Shelley Fisher Fishkin is the Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and Director of American Studies at Stanford. She is Founding Editor of the Journal of Transnational American Studies, winner of the John Tuck-ey Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mark Twain Studies, and Co-Director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North American Project at Stanford. Her most recent publications include Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee, Zhi Lin: in Search of Chinese Migrants and the Transcontinental Railroad, and the first Chinese edition of Russell Conwell’s Why and How the Chinese Emigrate (1871). Gordon H. Chang is professor of history at Stanford University, the Olive H. Palmer of Professor in Humanities, and the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergrad- uate Education. He studies the history of America-China relations and Asian American history. He co-directs the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project. He recently published Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Together, Shelley and Gordon have co-edited, The Chi- nese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental with Stanford University Press