Articles by

Tod R.

Digitizania! New From the L. Tom Perry Special Collections

By June 9, 2016


Digitizania

This is the inaugural post of a new series we are calling Digitizania! In this series, we will be highlighting new digital collections from a variety of repositories throughout the world related to Mormon Studies. We hope this will provide a useful service to new and seasoned researchers alike. Today, we take a look at recent digitization activities at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections within the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. The following collections have been released digitally in the previous two months.

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Using Google’s Ngram Viewer for Historical Textual Analysis

By May 17, 2016


You may have heard about Google Books Ngram Viewer or perhaps even dabbled with it at some point in the recent past, but I will dive a bit deeper into using the tool for the purpose of historical textual analysis.

An Overview of Ngrams

In the field of computational linguistics, an n-gram is an adjoining chain of n items in a sequence of speech or text. N-grams are extracted from a corpus of speech or text and are ordered as sets. An n-gram of size 1 is a unigram (“binders”), size 2 is a bigram (“many binders”), size 3 is a trigram (“binders of women”), and greater sizes are referred to as four-grams (“binders full of women”), five-grams (“many binders full of women”), and so on.

The corpora accessible via the Google’s Ngram Viewer includes American English, British English, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, and Italian processed between 2009-2012. The text within this corpora is derived from Google’s massive Google Books digitization endeavor, which is still ongoing. They note on their website that they have only included those books with sufficiently high optical character recognition (OCR) percentages and serials were also excluded from this corpora.1 If you are at all curious, you can download the dataset here.

The Google Books Ngram Viewer is optimized for quick inquiries into the usage of small sets of phrases (or n-grams as described above). The following embedded queries are to help us get more familiar with what is possible using this tool.

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Joseph Smith Papers Release: Documents Volume 4 (April 1834-September 1835)

By May 10, 2016


Yesterday, the Joseph Smith Papers Project released their latest volume: Documents 4 (April 1834–September 1835). I am looking forward to diving into the volume in the coming days, but for now here are my notes from the release event:

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Crowdsourcing: Woman’s Exponent Author List

By August 7, 2015


Join the project!

Join the project!

I wanted to make a quick public notice of a new project at the Juvenile Instructor. We have begun the process of mapping every initialism/pseudonym in the issues of the Woman’s Exponent to their respective authors. This process is time intensive and will require a lot of work, but we figure opening the resource (a Google Doc at this point) to the public and our readership will encourage collaboration. Ultimately, this list will prove useful to many scholars as they study the lives of the women who crafted this publication and the world they shaped.

 

Join the project

 


MSWR: 22–28 March

By March 29, 2015


There is much to highlight, so let’s get started:

MSWR

110th Translation of the Book of Mormon Published (LDS Church Growth)

“Kosraean is the 110th language into which the Church has translated the Book of Mormon. Other translations of the Book of Mormon that have been completed within the past seven years include Malay, Slovak, Serbian, and Yoruba.” See also: Kosraean language

 

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CFP: Materialities of American Texts & Visual Cultures (New York, 9-10 Apr 15)

By January 7, 2015


Columbia University, New York, April 9 – 10, 2015
Deadline: Jan 23, 2015

Call for Papers: Materialities of American Texts and Visual Cultures

Hosted by: Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology and Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New York, NY. Co-Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the American Print History Association.

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Tips for Researching at BYU (Online)

By September 20, 2014


muwThe newly redesigned Harold B. Lee Library website is a great resource. Having spent a good deal of time with the site I thought it would be useful to highlight resources and (generally) overlooked goodness at BYU’s libraries and archives for your Mormon Studies research.

L. Tom Perry Special Collections

You know what it is, but did you know the Special Collections provides RSS feeds for the following?

The feeds can be a bit spotty, but the collection highlights are at least monthly and very helpful. One blog recently featured the excellent Newel K. Whitney Papers, which were digitized not long ago by the staff there. A few more highlights include: a direct link to search the Special Collections’ finding aids: http://findingaid.lib.byu.edu/, Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846–1869, and a web map that shows all geocoded (items with a geographic location) collections (over 3900 items!).

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MSWR – July 27

By July 27, 2014


TWEAH

LDS Church’s PCC to house new Polynesian Football Hall of Fame

This article is a few months old, but the recently founded Polynesian Football Hall of Fame has found a home at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) in Hawai’i. “PFHF honors the sport’s greatest players, coaches and contributors from Polynesia.” This is an interesting development considering the history of the PCC and Mormonism throughout the region.

Pioneer Ancestors — FamilySearch.org

Primarily targeted at pioneer stock Mormons, this microsite “is FamilySearch’s attempt at comparing the list of pioneer companies to those listed in your Family Tree. We recognize that it may not be comprehensive or completely accurate historically. We hope you enjoy this information.” I’ve included a screen grab of my results for those who likely won’t have many connections:

mormon-pioneers

“Marmans!”

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New Developments at the Dictionary of Mormon Biography

By April 12, 2014


I thought I’d write up a quick note on the status of the growing Dictionary of Mormon Biography (DMB).  We have welcomed a few more editors in the last few months and our database continues to expand.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.17.36 AM

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Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup

By November 17, 2013


This week brings us a diverse assortment of news and research for your perusal.

Study explores impact of early returned LDS missionaries

A recent study conducted by UVU professor of psychology and behavior science Kris Doty examined the effects of returning home early from a mission due to circumstances such as failing physical health, mental health issues, or indiscretion can have on individuals. The study involved survey responses from 348 early returned missionaries. Unfortunately, there is no link to the study anywhere on the Web.

Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, Senior State Historian

A new job listing went up this week at the Utah Division of State History for a Senior State Historian-Digital Editor. “This person will co-manage the Utah Historical Quarterly operations with a Senior State Historian-Print Editor.  Together the co-managing editors will run the day-to-day operations of the Quarterly.” Check it out yo!

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More web tools for Mormon Studies

By October 28, 2013


Lantern

From the Media History Digital Library comes this amazing collection of “over 800,000 pages of digitized texts from the the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound.” The site has a fresh interface and the search filters are helpful. Also, a little trick to limit the default full-text search (since the OCR [optical character recognition] of the texts can be pretty bad) enter ‘0001‘ to disable full-text search and exclusively search metadata.

Here is a typical page of search results:

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Some fun web reference tools for Mormon Studies

By August 3, 2013


I wanted to highlight some of my favorite web reference tools as of late with a short post. Among the many, here are a few of my go-to tools when researching all things Mormon:

Latter-day Apostles (http://latterdayapostles.org/)

This tool provides a fun way to visually browse the organization of the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1835 (with the formation of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles) to the present. It’s mostly a quick reference point for me with a question like, “Who was in the quorum in 1901?” The developer of the site, Dallin Regehr, doesn’t provide citation of his data, but I’ll assume it’s fairly accurate after checking the datum for a few people against other sources.

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Where are we going? The Dictionary of Mormon Biography

By May 10, 2013


The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity at the Dictionary of Mormon Biography (see this post for context). Since hatching the idea, I’ve gone from building a prototype site to rolling out a full Mediawiki instance to mormonbiography.org. A few things in review:

  • I secured the mormonbiography.org domain! This will help drive traffic to the site and build a research community for the project.
  • In April, I had a database meltdown and lost most of what was added to the previous site <sadface/>, but the new site is running smoothly.
  • The site currently has over 60 articles and now has a small group of registered researchers contributing to the project! A tip of the hat to Ardis Parshall, Kent Larsen, Bruce Crow, and David Morris for joining the ranks.
  • I am trying to ensure that the content is not a “sausage fest” by culling records from various resources, especially since the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (the original biographical source for the project) has little female representation within its pages. I am very much open to suggestions for resources to draw upon. See our current list of source projects here.

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The Digital Public Library of America has launched!

By April 18, 2013


dplaThe Digital Public Library of America, a project that has been in development for a few years, is now live on the Internet. The DPLA follows in the footsteps of Europeana, a similar initiative in the EU that brings together diverse collections throughout the European Union’s libraries, archives, and museums. One way of thinking about the DPLA is to see it as a super-catalog of materials spread across the contiguous United States in thousands of local, state, and federal institutions. The current “beta” version of the site already has 2+ million records aggregated from “hubs” such as the Digital Library of Georgia, Kentucky Digital Library, Minnesota Digital Library, ArtStor, Biodiversity Heritage Library, National Archives and Records Administration, New York Public Library, University of Virginia,  Mountain West Digital Library, etc. Additional partners are being announced almost daily. So pump yourself up and get searching!

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“I like to call it the lunar mission of the Church”: Histories Volume 2 of the Joseph Smith Papers

By October 19, 2012


"I like to call it the lunar mission of the Church." -Elder Steven E. Snow referring to the Joseph Smith Papers

After too much waiting, being swamped at work, and my own timidity, I’d like to share my notes from the recent blogger event the Church History Library hosted for the release of Histories Volume 2 of the Joseph Smith Papers.

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From the Archives: “Wait Till the Clouds Roll by Zion”

By July 31, 2012


One fascinating document that has been submitted to the Saints of Alberta Project (SAP) is this page of lyrics for a folk hymn composed by “H. Garner” on April 17, 1884, titled “Wait till the clouds roll by Zion”:

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From the Archives: “Who May Bear the Priesthood?”

By July 21, 2012


I came across an intriguing article not long ago, published in a 1927 issue of the Cumorah Monthly Bulletin. The Bulletin was the official publication of the South African Mission from 1927-1970.[1] I suppose you know what’s coming next based on the title of this post, so I might as well get right to it.

WHO MAY BEAR THE PRIESTHOOD?

This is a subject of frequent inquiry in the South African Mission, where so many good people are unable to declare, with certainty, a genealogy pure from the Hamite or Canaanitish blood.[2]

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Introducing: Dictionary of Mormon Biography

By July 12, 2012


I want to start off this post by thanking you for your kindness since my first post. The feedback and general excitement I received via comments and email was palpable and kind of amazing.

The announcement I am now making is closely related to my work on the Saints of Alberta Project (SAP), which is still taking shape thanks to your comments. The Dictionary of Mormon Biography (DMB) is a new site, which will shortly become a platform like unto a Wikipedia, for Mormon biography. Currently, the site is a mockup of the kind of database I’d like to and am assembling though the next iteration will run on a similar software to Wikipedia: Semantic Mediawiki.

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Alberta Saints and Digital Ephemera

By July 5, 2012


I have been a student of Mormon history for over a decade now and have also been an active participant of the Web since I was a young man. I rolled with the revolutions of HTML, GIFs, Flash, web standards, and “HTML5” more recently. These two worlds, Mormon history and the Web, have increasingly been gravitating toward and colliding into each other, inevitably spilling out new galaxies of information [1]. This makes me a chipper boy in the 21st century, an age of expanding data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.

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Series

Recent Comments

David G. on Review: The Thirteenth Apostle:: “Thanks, Joey!”


J Stuart on Review: The Thirteenth Apostle:: “Thanks, JR! The post has been updated. That's what I get for reviewing books at 1 in the morning.”


JR on Review: The Thirteenth Apostle:: “At least once - maybe only once - your review names "Partridge" when I think you meant "Lyman". See 4th paragraph. If that's…”


Quincy D. Newell on Review: The Council of: “Matt, thanks for the book suggestion—I’ll check it out. I agree that it would be really helpful to know how things have changed over…”


SC Taysom on "The Heathen World and: “KGL is one of my YSAR colleagues! You landed a real gem this time.”


Steve Fleming on Thoughts on PBS'S Wolf: “Right, but I wonder if a particular agenda is more a motivation to write these kinds of works than simply a desire for accuracy.”

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