Explore: A Gallery of Visual Experiments

Visualizing data allows us to make hierarchies explicit and find unexpected patterns. These visualizations are designed as discovery tools and visual indexes. They are based off live data and provide links to relevant pages in the site. They are designed as "first cuts" at the data and may be messy, but hopefully are also intriguing. Over time, some of these may be refined and incorporated into other parts of the site, but for now, you can play with them here.

Wondering how all this information is stored? Scroll down to view diagrams showing how the EAFSD records information about people, places, organizations, primary and secondary sources, and their connections to each other

Which were the most popular titles?

Between 1775 and 1825, the various American governments sent out foreign service officers under at least 45 distinct titles. Some titles were only used once, while others were used tens or hundreds of times. Click on the image to see all the foreign service titles displayed in a simple, space efficient Bubble Chart.

Explore Locations

The Early American Foreign Serivce Database contains around 200 locations. This expanding tree diagram shows how the locations are are grouped into states and then continents. Click on the image to get started.

Where were people sent?

This visualization uses a circle packing algorithm to display all the places foriegn service officers were assigned. The size of the circle corresponds to the number of assignments sent to a given location. Click on the image to see the full display.

The Data Model

The EAFSD uses a complex data model to describe the elements of the early American foreign service. The database is divided into six principle sections or modules, in the language of database design. The six modules are:

  • Individuals models how people relate to each other and their various occupations
  • Locations models towns and cities, including where they are located on the globe and in relationship to political and regional groupings
  • Organizations models groups of people
  • Correspondence models letters and the enclosures that were sent with them
  • Assignments records assignments in the foreign service (who was sent where, for what reason, and for what timespan)
  • Validations a citation system keeping track of primary and secondary sources and providing footnotes

You can view the technical diagrams in the image carousel below, click on an image to see the diagram in a lightbox window. You can also download the diagrams.

The underlying software for the EAFSD is an open source project called Project Quincy. Project Quincy is growing out of the code written to run the EAFSD, but is designed to be reused by historians who want to create their own websites tracing people, places, and organizations through time and space.

The color coded, annotated diagrams were generated with DAVILA.

Diagram of all Modules Diagram of all Entities Models geographic locations and their political/regional groupings. Models how people relate to each other and their various occupations Models where people lived Models how people are associated with different formalized groups Models letters and and enclosures sent between people and organizations Models assignments in the foreign service The citation system.

Spinning images courtesy of Cloud Carousel.