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Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA 24061-2000)
Tom Ewing (Project Director: July 2011 to November 2014)
Bernice Louise Hausman (Co Project Director: July 2011 to November 2014)

Digging into Data
Digital Humanities

[White paper][Grant products]

$123,778 (approved)
$121,901 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2012 – 6/30/2014

An Epidemiology of Information: Data Mining the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Using the digitized newspaper archives in the NEH-funded Chronicling America and Peel's Prairie Provinces, the project explores how the spread of information found in local newspapers about the 1918 influenza pandemic influenced policy makers and the general public. The project is led by scholars from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (US) and the University of Toronto (Canada) along with additional advisors from the University of Texas, McMaster University, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Alberta. The Canadian partner, the University of Toronto, is requesting $125,000 from SSHRC.

An Epidemiology of Information: Data Mining the 1918 Influenza Pandemic seeks to harness the power of data mining techniques with the interpretive analytics of the humanities and social sciences to understand how newspapers shaped public opinion and represented authoritative knowledge during this deadly pandemic. This project makes use of the more than 100 newspaper titles for 1918 available from Chronicling America at the United States Library of Congress and the Peel’s Prairie Provinces collection at the University of Alberta Library. The application of algorithmic techniques enables the domain expert to systematically explore a broad repository of data and identify qualitative features of the pandemic in the small scale as well as the genealogy of information flow in the large scale. This research can provide methods for understanding the spread of information and the flow of disease in other societies facing the threat of pandemics.