Skip to main content

Connecting the Dots: Jane Addams' Personal Network Data Analysis

Historical figures like Jane Addams are well-known for their accomplishments, but it can also be interesting to learn about their connections to other people. Data can help shed light on these connections and provide a more complete picture of a person’s life and the context in which they lived. These types of data reveal information about a historical figure’s family, friends, colleagues, or adversaries, as well as the political, social, and cultural forces that influenced their lives. By analyzing data about such historical figures, we can gain a deeper understanding of their motivations, beliefs, and contributions to society.

To understand the demographic of Jane Addams’ associates - the people she corresponded with - we look at several sets of data relating to the people. To achieve this, a subset of the original dataset is extracted based on the “Collection Name” attribute. This attribute in the database categorizes it into organization and people, and any tuple labeled as “people” is extracted for the interpretation of individual person’s data as a subset. The first chart shows the birth dates of people who Jane Addams has been corresponding with through letter exchanges or have mentioned in the documents. It ranges from as old as 1793 to 1906. The person born in 1793 AD has been identified as Lucretia Coffin Mott, who was a women’s rights activist and abolitionist.  Looking further into the data, Addams hasn’t had any particular interaction with Mottxn but has mentioned her in several of her letters and articles. Similarly, the person born in 1906 is recognized as Thérèse Hudicourt who has been mentioned in the list of delegates to the international congress of women. This shows that Jane Addams took inspiration from people who she did not personally know. 

To understand the demographic of people more precisely, a word cloud of all the tags involving individual people’s data was created. The following word cloud depicts information about all the tags encoded in people’s data.  

The tag ranges from “Woman Suffrage” - obviously so - to Labor, Civil Rights, Social Work, Child Labor, Progressive Party, Birth Control, Religion, and so on. All of these tags relate to Jane Addams directly or indirectly. One of the discrepancies seen on this word cloud is the tag “Peace Woman” and “Suffrage Women” which is a discrepancy resulting from the creation of the word cloud. In this case, the word cloud generator picks up two adjacent words as a singular phrase. Disregarding minor inconsistencies, this is an interesting way to visualize the occurrence of all the other topics voiced in documents involving individual people related to the woman’s suffrage movement.

While the birthdate and tags highlight a good deal of information about the suffragists, other factors such as a person’s geographical location also give ample information about the distribution of suffragists across the globe and the United States. The following choropleth map depicts the location of all Jane Addams’ associates and other suffragists that are mentioned in the documents based on the frequency in a particular geographical area. The darker the shading on a country, the more people mentioned in the papers reside there. The following global choropleth map shows that most people live in the United States, and the countries that have grey shading have a frequency of zero. 

To gain a deeper understanding of the distribution of suffragists, the following map shows the frequency of people across the united states. It can be seen that most interactions happened in Illinois and New York.  The map uses a separate data frame with the Alpha 3 codes for countries and abbreviations for states respectively as the first column and the frequency of the corresponding location as the second one. This information is then, used in the “Choloropleth” section of the “Folium” library which is a python library for interactive geospatial data visualization. 

The project has tons of information about people involved in woman’s suffrage which is more complete for people having interacted with or been mentioned in written documents involving Jane Addams. In a similar manner to taking the “Woman’s Suffrage” tag as a sample dataset, we can attain different other topics that we would like to interpret and see Jane Addams’ connection to it or contribution towards it.

Further readings on the project:

This blog post was composed in the Fall of 2022 by Anushka Acharya, a senior Computer Science major at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Connecting the Dots: Jane Addams' Personal Network Data Analysis