Final Project

NOTE: I’ve created a (hopefully) handy checklist for your reference as you prepare your final project. Make a copy for your own personal use!

Also see the WordPress Design and Site Planning Guide for tips on function and design for your site.

This assignment requires you to build a robust digital exhibit based on a set of historical data. Your final project will combine data analysis and other traditional methods of historical narrative (text, images, etc.)


You have broad creative flexibility with your project, but the finished project should contain the following components:

  • At least three data visualizations
  • At least one map, timeline, annotated image or other interpretive element that adds to the projects themes and argument
  • A narrative of about 1500 words that makes an argument(s) and explicates the visualizations that support it
  • An “About” page that identifies you, discusses your sources, their processing, and their presentation (basically, why you made the choices you did, the methods you used, and perhaps the limitations of your data). This page should also have a way to contact you (I recommend creating a contact form, rather than just listing your email address, to prevent spam)
  • A bibliography

The project will be presented on a website that you build yourself (separate from your primary WordPress site)

Additional notes

This assignment is probably unlike any other you’ve done in your college coursework, and thus may feel intimidating or overwhelming. Try to calm any anxiety you may be feeling. Below I’ve outlined a set of “milestones” for the project; the class is structured in such a way that you will learn methods for completing each element of the project through the semester.

The project will be evaluated holistically, taking into account all elements and their cumulative effectiveness. A qualitative rubric of criteria will be provided well ahead of the final due date.


For many of these datasets, I give full credit to Miriam Posner, who originally collected them on her Digital Humanities course website. Some below are more historically-oriented than others, though you can use almost any of these data when properly contextualized and interpreted.

f you don’t want to use one of these datasets, you are welcome to use another, or make your own. Talk to me and we’ll see what is possible.

  1. Prisoner records from the Eastern State Penitentiary, 1830-1839 (see also Book B for years 1839-1842)
  2. Collections data at the Carnegie Museum of Art
  3. Nixon White House recordings
  4. A database of Scottish witchcraft
  5. Artwork at the Williams College Museum of Art
  6. Nineteenth-century children’s books
  7. Foreign Born in US as Percent of State Population, 1850-1910
  8. Cylinder recordings
  9. A database of graphic novels
  10. Collections of five public libraries from the American Midwest for the period from 1890 to 1970
  11. What people had in their houses in the 1700s in rural Pennsylvania
  12. A database of archaeologists and classicists
  13. The letters of Charles Darwin
  14. Museum of Modern Art Acquisitions, 2006-2016
  15. Marvel Comic Books and Characters
  16. New York Philharmonic Performances
  17. Sources of income, and expenditures, for college athletics
  18. COVID data, geographically segmented
  19. Datasets on police interactions, by city
  20. Wikipedia editor activity
  21. Datasets on enslaved individuals
  22. Metadata on the paintings of Bob Ross
  23. Women executed during Colombia’s war for independence
  24. Metadata about 900 coups
  25. Data about 500,000 opera performances
  26. Deaths in US jails
  27. US Presidential cabinet appointments
  28. U.S. Department of Agriculture data re: federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 1969-2015
  29. China Biographical Database
  30. Immigrants to England, 1330-1550
  31. World Values survey data (1981-present)
  32. Data about Mexican migration to the US
  33. Surveillance technology around the US
  34. Lighthouses in England and Wales, 1514-1911
  35. Women Elected Officials Database
  36. Every execution in the United States, 1608-2002

Other datasets


You will not be graded on these milestones, but I recommend you hit them to stay on track. I will provide feedback on milestones posted to your blog on the corresponding date.

Thursday, February 24

Dataset selected

Tuesday, March 1

Write a 500-ish word blog post to the following questions:

  1. What questions can I explore with this dataset?
  2. What questions do I want to explore, but are impossible with this dataset?
  3. Is it possible to obtain the missing data I describe in question two? If so, how can I do it?
  4. What kinds of manipulation will this dataset require? Am I (will I be) capable of doing this myself, or will I need help?

You should also create a few sketch-like data visualizations. These can be literal sketches on paper, with photos of the drawings posted in the blog. These are not final or authoritative! They’re a way to get an initial look at what you have.

Tuesday, March 8

Create a rough draft wireframe for your project site, showing the major sections of the project and where the various components will go. We will work on this process in class also!

Thursday, March 17

Make a list of which data visualization and mapping tools you’ll use, along with a preliminary list of the components you want to create with them.

Thursday, March 24

Create prototype versions of your visualizations. Post these to your blog, and discuss

Thursday, March 24

Outline your narrative.

Thursday, March 31

Begin entering text, images, and interactive components in your website.

Thursday, April 14

Complete draft of project.

Thursday, May 5

Submit completed project and final learning reflection by 12:30 pm (see class email from April 28 for submission instructions)

Resources for Design and Interpretive Elements

As your project develops, you may wish to supplement your data and text with additional images, sound, digitized print materials, maps, etc. Below are just some of the resources you might draw upon for enhancing your project. Remember whenever using these resources to include a caption with correct citation info and an embedded link back to the collection in context.

Sample Projects

Sometimes it may help to look at some similar projects to get a sense of approaches, use of data in narrative, analytical elements, etc.
Disclaimer: these projects were not created for my class; please always refer back to the guidelines above, not these examples, when reviewing expectations for the final project.