Visualizing newspapers history: The Hawaiian Star, 5930 front pages, 1893-1912

The Hawaiian Star, 5930 front pages, 1893-1912 (Vimeo)

Last September I met with Leslie Johnston (Chief of Repository Development at Library of Congress). We discussed how my lab and the students in my classes can start working on visualizing significant digital archives available though the Library web site.

We both agreed that the digitized archive of American newspapers created by The Library via a partnership with by National Endowment of Humanities is a good place to start. Currently the archive contains 4,776,214 pages, and it continues to grow. The pages are digitized at 400 dpi resolution.

A group of UCSD undergraduate students who were taking my 2011 Fall class on big cultural data, visualization and digital image processing (current syllabus) figured out how to download high-res images of newspaper images and metadata using Library API, and started working on visualizing a number of newspapers. We will be putting a page with this project's results on soon. Today we are releasing one of the animated visualization created by UCSD undergraduate student Cyrus Kiani (embedded on the top of the post).

Kiani's animation uses 5930 front pages from The Hawaiian Star covering 1893-1912 period. This period is particularly important for the development of modern visual communication (development of abstract art which leads to modern graphic design, the introduction of image oriented magazines such as Vogue, new medium of cinema, invention of phototelegraph, the first telefax machine to scan any two-dimensional image, etc.)

The animation of 5930 front pages of the single newspaper published during these 20 years for the first time make visible how visual design of modern print media changes over time, in search of the form appropriate to the new conditions of reception and new rhythm of modern life.

Here is Kiani's other visualizations and analysis of this data set (click on the image to view original version (3000 x 10650 pixels) on Flickr:

The Hawaiian Star, 5930 front pages, 1893-1912 (width = 1000 pixels)

Visit to see our other digital humanities projects, and to download the free software tools we developed for visualization of large image archives.