The map gives a good sense of where there are particular clusters of interest around a particular address or location. These often indicate either multiple stories of single sensational event or an important location that is mentioned in multiple contexts over a number of years.
The map allows you to search by month (when both sliders overlap) or to select a range of dates (when you place the sliders on specific months). This allows both for cumulative searches (for example the entirety of 1885) or to zoom in on a particular moment (for example focusing on September of 1888).
Searching by year demonstrates a marked variety in representations of the city. In 1888 it is perhaps no surprise to find that stories that represent Whitechapel in a negative way jump significantly. Looking at the map from that period, you can see clusters of points on Flower and Dean Street. These articles relate to the murder victim Elizabeth Stride, as she lived in that area, and that is often mentioned as a biographical detail in the criminal reporting.
A microhistory is a way to focus on the specificities of history by looking at an event, a life, or small group of people. Microhistory allows a focus on the everyday lived experience of historical actors. It encourages a “bottom up” approach to study the disenfranchised, the underrepresented and the average.
As the name suggestions, history is about the small and the specific; yet experts in this field are able to use small events to gain access to deeper meaning and insight. Carlo Ginsburg’s classic work The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller looked at one man brought to trial during the Inquisition. This study helps elucidate what it was like to be on the ground in a society wrought with shifting and confusing political and religious change. Natalie Zemon Davis’ The Return of Martin Guerre uses the case of an impostor tells the reader important information about the law, property rights, family, and custom in ways unimaginable if you studied French society from the top down.
Feel free to use and modify these assignments in your own teaching.
The following includes three worksheets that outline different ways to get students to engage with the website. They help develop web literacy skills, primary source analysis tools, and thinking about research methodologies.DOWNLOAD WORKSHEETS