A Case Study in Text Mining: Textual Analysis of the Territorial Papers
Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 2019
26 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2019 Last revised: 22 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 27, 2019
The Territorial Papers of the United States are a valuable and underused resource containing almost 10,000 documents written between 1789 and 1848 about the formation of new sovereign states from US territory. These communications between the federal government and frontier settlers comprise the actual discourse of the nation’s expansion over six decades. Digitizing the Territorial Papers permits the possibility of analyzing the entire corpus globally. Text mining and topic modeling methods give us a lens on the language patterns through which new state governments and the expanding nation were formed. An initial statistical analysis of the textual information provides a visualization of content, helps discern how ideals about governance emerged, and lays the foundation for developing more sophisticated hypotheses and theoretical constructs.
Keywords: text analysis, digital history, legal history, territorial papers, American frontier, text mining, big text databases, 19th century history, settler colonialism, American expansion
JEL Classification: C18, C81, K11, K40, K41
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