This assignment asks you to apply what you are learning about spreadsheets, datasets and databases by transforming digitized primary sources in to a sample dataset about the early Americas topic you’ve selected for your final project.  

For class Friday 6/4: 

  • Select an appropriate digitized primary source (or small group of sources) about the early Americas topic you’ve selected for your final project. As we’ve discussed in class, the source(s) must contain quantitative information or statistics. Use a source suggested by the instructor or find your own using GMU’s library catalog and/or databases. Consult with the instructor if you are having difficulties finding a source or are unsure if your source is appropriate for this assignment.
  • Using Google sheets, create a simple spreadsheet for your data. Use a new row for each “observation” or item. Create columns for variables about each item. Transcribe 10 rows of data from your digitized source.
  • On our #general channel in Slack, post a sample image of your digitized source and a public link to your Google spreadsheet. 
  • In class on Friday, be prepared to talk to the class for 3 minutes about your progress. You can refer to what you posted in Slack. Tell us: 1) what source(s) you selected, why you selected them, what they are about, 2) what columns you picked for your variables and why, and 3) any difficulties you’ve run in to so far. 

For class Monday 6/7: 

  • Finish transforming the data from your Google spreadsheet into an Airtable database. Decide on a schema or structure of your database.
  • Write a blog post about your sample dataset and post it to your website. Submit the URL of your post via Blackboard by 8am. In your blog:
    • Cite the primary source(s) that you data comes from according to the Chicago Manual of Style conventions. 
    • Include a link to your publicly available Airtable database.
    • Include a screenshot of your Google spreadsheet and a screenshot of at least one table from your Airtable database. 
    • Your blog post should be approximately 500 words. It should use full sentences and paragraphs with topic sentences.
    • Be sure to write about: 
      • What source did you select and why? What topic, period, and place of history does this source tell us about?
      • Describe the process of creating your initial Google spreadsheet and the decisions you made (i.e. process of transcription, variables your selected, etc.). How does transcribing structured data differ from transcribing a text document?
      • Discuss the process of transforming your spreadsheet into a database. How are spreadsheets different than databases (in purpose, in configuration)? What decisions did you make in developing your database schema (i.e., number of tables, which tables would hold which content, field types, the relationships between tables)? How did you standardize any anomalies?
      • What challenges did you face in creating your sample dataset?