I will use three datasets that Prof. Kane assembled for the Module 2: Data Critique assignment. These are the two Jelles Fonda datasets and the Dutch Account books from the Indigenous Economic Data category. I explored the Unidentified Dutch Account book, but I want to look at Fonda’s account books as well and see if I could combine the data entries from all three datasets into one sheet. I think this is possible for the two Fonda accounts that Thomas and Meghan critiqued, especially given that the categorical columns are characterized by similar field names and the information overlaps in a lot of ways. The Dutch Account Book and the smaller Fonda one only have about 400 records combined, but with the larger Fonda account I will have over 1,000 records to analyze.
I was drawn to these datasets because I study material culture. As a historical archaeologist who focuses on the Northeastern US, I’m interested in colonial encounters characterized by the exchange of shared material culture between different groups during the colonial period. The fur trade existed during a time of cultural hybridity, and this had a lot to do with the trade partnerships and relations that transcended cultural boundaries and transformed group identities. None of these datasets have any external abouts, but I would like to compare recorded trade items by year to see how patterns changed from the seventeenth to the eighteenth centuries. To put it in the context of the fur trade, I’d particularly be looking at the frequency of beaver in these exchanges. My secondary research will involve looking into Wendell’s To Do Justice to Him and Myself to better contextualize my data. I’m interested in Wendell’s dataset as well, but for now I’m going to see what I can do with the three that I’ve chosen so I don’t get too in over my head.
There are a few questions I think my datasets can answer: How did payment received for beaver furs change over time, and what does this tell us about the evolution of the indigenous-European trade relationship? Were there differences in the number of exchanges that took place at certain times of the year, based on the available monthly data, and if so, which times were busiest for the fur trade and what were the attributing factors? When did female indigenous traders start to participate in the fur trade, and how did their transactions differ from their male counterparts?
I’ll be highlighting differences between all three datasets by showing how interactions between European and indigenous traders differed from the early to the late eighteenth century in what is now New York State. I’m not only interested in learning about what trade items appeared more frequently over time, but also what became rarer later on. I’d like to see what kind of argument I can propose on the fluctuating states of supply and demand for beaver furs or other commodities. I’m no economist, but I’d like to visualize the rise of prices for certain goods due to inflation or other historical events that significantly impacted regional trade, such as the Seven Years’ War or the American Revolution.
I would like to visualize my data using an ArcGIS StoryMap, so I’m hoping to combine images of fur trade artifacts, Tableau charts, and historical or current maps to frame a clear, identifiable story arc. I’ll also be adapting the Opening-Challenge-Action-Resolution format discussed in this week’s reading so I can present my findings in an organized manner.