Reading Visualizations


In documenting her reading list over the span of roughly two decades, Alice Dunbar-Nelson provided us with a wealth of information with respect to her reading habits. As indicated in the transcripts, her reading lists would typically include titles, genres, and publishers along with the date when she read each book and her reading location. By subjecting these transcriptions to text mining and data analytics, I was able to generate a series of visualizations that document important trends over her life as a reader. These visualizations cover such areas as the genres and the publishers she preferred, the authors and books she enjoyed the most, and the range of diverse representation in her reading material. Also expressed in visual terms are the times and places in which she read her books. The granularity of this information is remarkable as it lists each reading location by city and state. I was even able to determine the quantity of books she that read within specific spaces such as at home or at work. As expected, the amount of books she read in a given year is expressed quantitatively. However, extracting from qualitative information in her diary entries, I have placed these annual book tallies alongside the spectrum of moods she experienced during some of the years covered in her journaling practice. Lastly, I was able to pull information from inscriptions found in extant books from her library collection, her diary entries, and surviving correspondence to map out her reading-related social and literary networks.

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