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Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA 24061-2000)
Tom Ewing (Project Director: September 2014 to September 2019)

NEH/DFG Bilateral Digital Humanities Program
Digital Humanities

[White paper][Grant products]

$175,000 (approved)
$160,678 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2015 – 3/31/2019

Tracking the Russian Flu in U.S. and German Medical and Popular Reports, 1889-1893

A collaborative research project to study the spread of the Russian influenza epidemic (1889-1893) through Europe and the United States by using large-scale computational methods on digitized collections of historical medical literature and newspapers. The German partner, Leibniz University, Hannover, is requesting 127,600€ from DFG.

This project examines US and German medical discussion and popular reporting during the Russian influenza epidemic, from its outbreak in late 1889 through the successive waves that lasted through 1893. A world-wide epidemic can be studied at every level from the microbial through the individual, communal, regional, national, and global. Digital humanities are especially suited for this kind of scalable analysis, as the close reading techniques familiar to humanities scholars are integrated with the large-scale interpretive methods of computer scientists and information scholars. The project will use historical materials to develop, apply, and evaluate new methods for computational epidemiology through applications such as word and term distribution analysis, fact extraction, sentiment analysis, network analysis and data visualization.