A Case Study in Text Mining: Textual Analysis of the Territorial Papers

Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 2019

U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-04

26 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2019 Last revised: 22 Feb 2021

See all articles by Johannes Ledolter

Johannes Ledolter

University of Iowa - Department of Management Sciences

Lea S. VanderVelde

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: February 27, 2019

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Ledolter, Johannes and VanderVelde, Lea S., A Case Study in Text Mining: Textual Analysis of the Territorial Papers (February 27, 2019). Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 2019, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3343549

Johannes Ledolter (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - Department of Management Sciences ( email )

IA
United States

Lea S. VanderVelde

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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