In this course we have spent a lot of time working with various digital tools and methods. We’ve also been studying various aspects of early American history. In this assignment, you’ll get to demonstrate what you have learned by creating a final product that combines both topics.

For your final project you will write and publish a historical narrative online about the early American history topic you have chosen. Your digital narrative should make use of digital tools and methods to demonstrate how digital history can be used to illustrate some aspect of Early American history or to tell readers something new about your topic.

Assignment Details

  • Final Project due Saturday June 19th at 10:15am.
  • You must meet with me during office hours at least once this week, either on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, to talk about your project. This is your chance to present your in-progress work and ideas to me, ask questions and get advice (if needed) about your individual project. Schedule an office hours appointment
  • Publish your digital narrative as a blog post on your website. Submit the URL of your post via Blackboard.
  • Your narrative should be approximately 1,000-1,500 words. It should use full sentences and paragraphs with topic sentences. It should include an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph. 
  • You must use at least 3 of the following digital methods or tools we learned in this class to illustrate your points. The materials you use to demonstrate these digital methods must be ones you make—not materials you find elsewhere and use. 
    • Text analysis (n-gram)
    • Full-text transcription/searching
    • Creating datasets (Database/Spreadsheet)
    • Timeline
    • Simple Visualizations (Bar or line graph) 
    • Maps
  • Your narrative should combine various types of materials (text, maps, charts, visualizations, images, etc.) and be laid out in a way that is clear, compelling and easy to follow. Use captions to explain the digital materials you include. (You can use the Catalano article that we looked at in class as a model of how to arrange text, figures and captions in online narrative.)
  • You must cite your sources and include a bibliography of those sources at the end of your narrative. 


  • The text of your narrative should consist of a historical argument supported by or commenting on your digital materials and putting them into historical context.
  • Thoroughly explain your topic and tell readers what you have learned. Make it clear how digital tools and methods have shaped this learning. Ask yourself: How do these digital methods help illustrate my early America topic, or tell readers something new about my topic?
  • Be sure to explain any key terms or concepts you use. Ex. This is what text analysis is, this is how it works and this is why is it useful in understanding my topic. You can draw on class readings (as long as you cite them) to help you.
  • Use text to explain the trends or patterns your digital materials are showing. What should readers be seeing? Point out what readers should learn/know after viewing your materials.
  • All the claims you make in this narrative should be supported with properly attributed evidence. (See below)
  • As you are writing your text, think carefully about your audience (not just your instructor but a reader on the web). Ask yourself: Can a reader make sense of the argument I am making based on the materials I have included and the text I have written? If the answer is no, you will need to revise your narrative and materials. 

Digital Materials

  • You should feel free to re-use visualizations and materials you have already created for this class or you can create new ones. However, if you reuse materials, do something to upgrade it from the first time. Ex. Add more detail to your timeline captions, include images in your timeline events, add more rows in your dataset, combine two visualizations in Tableau in the same embedded dashboard, etc.
  • Present each digital material you use as its own figure. 
  • Number each figure (Figure 1., Figure 2., etc.) and use a caption of 2-3 sentences. Captions should tell the readers what trend/pattern/anomaly they should be seeing, and what it means. 
  • Interactive visualizations should be embedded in your narrative. Otherwise use screenshots or still images, and include links to the original materials.
  • Each visualization (chart, graph, table, etc.) should include a descriptive title at the top. Titles are not required for photographs or images of historical documents.
  • Include call outs in your text that direct readers to look at your figures. (Ex. As the histogram in figure 1 shows…)

Citations and Bibliography 

  • Any time you have drawn on a source (whether that be in your text, for an image or to create a visualization or dataset), you might give a citation. For this assignment, I will allow you to use parenthetical in-text citations. Ex. Sentence. (Last name of author, page number)
  • Draw on both primary and secondary sources. 
  • You will need to include a bibliography at the bottom of your narrative. Here, you will include citations for all the sources you used for this project. 
    • Your bibliography must be in Chicago style and use the format for Bibliography entries. 
    • Entries must be in alphabetical order. 
    • All URLs included must actually hyperlink to the source instead of being included as text.
    • You can use Zotero to create a preliminary bibliography, but you must check each citation for accuracy. 
    • Use these links to find citation formats for Secondary Sources and Primary Sources.