Rachel Moloshok

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

This Author's Posts

Every type of American prime mover—the power to do work—has been harvested and used in Pennsylvania and, in the process of its use and management, has defined entire regions of the state. Exciting new scholarship is teaching us much about this important history while also pointing us to promising areas for future inquiry.


After two long years of poring through HSP's graphics collections, digitizing countless images, researching the history of political cartoons, playing around with high-tech image viewers, painstakingly encoding TEI, creating lesson plans and resources for educators, learning about RDF and metadata standards, and blogging, blogging, blogging, it is time for Historic Images, New Technologies (HINT) staff to sign off on this digital history project.


With less than three months left on the Historic Images, New Technologies (HINT) project, we’ve more or less wrapped up our TEI encoding of political cartoons and are concentrating on getting our exhibit website working and on writing biographies and descriptions of the people, organizations, and symbols associated with our cartoons.


The artistry on display in the political cartoons of the HINT project is breathtaking at times. Now that we HINT project associates are up to our elbows in encoding—carefully considering the details of each cartoon, transcribing every word, trying to identify every important person, organization, or symbol in the image, and doing our best to explain its message—the hard work the artists put into composing these often very complicated images is more and more apparent. How did they do it?


On the morning of May 10, 1865, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, was captured by soldiers of the Union Army near Irwinville, Georgia, and taken to Fort Monroe, Virginia. Rumors soon began swirling about the circumstances of his arrest—specifically focusing on what Davis had been wearing. The boring version, maintained by Davis, was that he had thrown the nearest coat or blanket over himself in the cold early morning of his capture, unaware of the fact that he had donned his wife’s overcoat or shawl.


The Irish are probably the most represented ethnic group in the Historic Images, New Technologies project cartoons. That's not great for the Irish. If any individual or group shows up with any frequency in political cartoons, you can be sure that most, if not all, of these representations will be negative. And the Irish were a favorite punching-bag for one of the most innovative and influential illustrated humor magazines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Puck.


Here at the HINT project, we've put a lot of effort into improvements to the HSP image viewer. The ability to annotate graphic images has been getting the most attention, but we'll also soon be unveiling a new viewer feature that has the power to turn your world upside-down.


We’ve been making a lot of technological progress on the Historic Images, New Technologies (HINT) Project. My colleague Cat Lu has highlighted the exciting capabilities of the new HSP image viewer and annotation tool in a great blog post. We now have the ability to annotate images by drawing shapes around details on an image and associating a text box—containing transcription or commentary—with that portion of the image.


Halloween is right around the corner, and to celebrate, the Historic Images, New Technologies (HINT) project has been posting a selection of the creepiest cartoons in our collections to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Tumblr blog. Click here, or on any of the image details below, to experience some of the CREEPIEST...


[Editor's note: the following blog post was written a few weeks prior to publication. The cigarette tax legislation mentioned in the first paragraph was just signed into law.]