My name is Alyson Gamble and I’m a doctoral student from Simmons University. My placement in LEADS-4-NDP is with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Before the LEADS boot camp at Drexel, I was able to spent half a day at my host site. My mentor, Caroline Hayden, gave me a great tour of the HSP’s buildings and collections. I met other HSP employees who were part of the project last year. Being able to visit my host site in person was helpful to acquaint me with both the people and the collections. I’ll be focusing on historical public school records from Philadelphia.
Figure 1. Picture of the historical marker for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The boot camp itself was very informative. Since I was not familiar with all of the concepts we discussed, I made sure to remember that this was an educational opportunity and to recognize that I don’t (and won’t) know everything. I enjoyed the presenters’ lessons, especially ones with a strong data visualization component. From my past experience and research, I’ve learned how important visualizations are for making data understandable. With the right visualization, a person can gain insight into data that they wouldn’t otherwise notice. Right now, I’m very fond of The Pudding (https://pudding.cool/) for data journalism; one of my students from my previous life as a science librarian, Caitlyn Ralph, is one of the site’s stars and I adore all of the work that she and others do on the publication. My favorite data visualization tool is currently Tableau, which I learned a lot about from Jess Cohen-Tanugi at Harvard’s Lamont Library. It’s pretty easy to use and makes nice dataviz. I’m especially fond of the idea of using Tableau as a sandbox for determining what kind of visuals will work best for a data set before creating those visuals in another program like R.
Figure 2. A picture of the final day of bootcamp
My favorite part of the bootcamp, though, was the opportunity to meet other doctoral students and the LEADS-4-NDP staff. Since I don’t get to interact with PhD students in person very often, it was a treat to spend time with the other LEADS Fellows. I’m very excited for our time together in this program and for seeing what happens with our projects.
Figure 3. Benches in the Drexel courtyard