Sign up for our newsletter and get the latest big data news and analysis.

Rescuing Lost History: Using Big Data to Recover Black Women’s Lived Experiences

“A lot of times when people think about big data, they think about it in ahistorical times…outside of this political context,” said Ruby Mendenhall, an associate professor of sociology at UIUC. “It’s really important to think about whose voice is digitized, in journals and newspapers. A lot of that for black women has been lost and you need to make a concerted effort to recover it.” Mendenhall’s study employs Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) algorithms and comparative text mining to search 800,000 periodicals in JSTOR (Journal Storage) and HathiTrust from 1746 to 2014 to identify the types of conversations that emerge about Black women’s shared experience over time.