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Mapping the History of Mantua

Project: 61
Name: Kathryn Steen (steen@drexel.edu; 215-895-6615)
Department: History and Politics
Academic Area: History

Title: Mapping the History of Mantua

Description:
The student will conduct historical research about the neighborhood immediately north of Drexel's main campus, Mantua. Mantua, in particular, is an understudied part of the city; knowing more about its past will require piecing it together from original primary materials, including maps, censuses, and city directories, among other sources. The student should be interested in learning digital mapping techniques, such as GIS, and will work closely with both history professor Kathryn Steen (re. history) and librarian Larry Millikan (re. GIS and other digital technologies) to build a digital history resource. This project's materials may end up being shared with Philaplace.org, an on-line history of Philadelphia neighborhoods based at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Associated Independent Study:
The obvious option is a narrative paper laying out the larger story; the research for the digital map will center on data collected from maps and censuses. Possible independent study narratives might focus on the role of the Pennsylvania Railroad or other institutions in shaping the neighborhoods or on ethnic and racial evolution of the neighborhoods. I would be open to other alternatives

Gained Experience:
Experience in historical research and writing, particularly using original, primary sources. The student could begin to develop expertise in GIS, which would give the student a marketable skill in addition to experience in more traditional tools of historians.

Outcome:
A digitally-based history of Mantua. Given the nature of the research (data based), we don't expect one student over one summer to complete the project, but it can be a start to an ongoing project that draws in other students over time (and this summer's student would be welcome to keep working on it).

Tasks:
Compiling data from maps, censuses, city directories, and archival sources to build a demographic history of Mantua. /Investing a substantial amount of time to learn new software. The student will need to write at least short narrative histories of major institutions in the neighborhoods.

Location:
The research will require visits to archives, including the City Archives, National Archives (for on-line census databases), and Free Library of Philadelphia, but probably also some others.

Meetings:
Much can be done by e-mail with Dr. Steen, but once/week as convenient, probably a little more near the beginning. The student will also need to meet with Larry Millikan, particularly related to GIS.

Interview Availability:
April 18, 2014; April 22, 2014