Skip to main content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Bullitt History of Medicine Club: Bringing Big Data to Asylum Studies: Historical Possibilities, Ethical Challenges

September 3, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Bringing Big Data to Asylum Studies: Historical Possibilities, Ethical Challenges

Dr. Robert C. Allen, Director, Digital Innovation Lab, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sarah E. Almond, Assistant Director, Community Histories Workshop, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Using material from the State Archives of North Carolina, Dr. Allen and Ms. Almond have overseen the creation of what they believe to be the first comprehensive, searchable patient database of a nineteenth-century American insane asylum, some 7200 admissions between 1856 and 1918. Complementing the database is a collection of some 5500 extended intake forms (1887-1918), and hospital/state administrative records, including a hospital cemetery inventory of more than 700 interred patients, minutes of hospital board meetings, comprehensive medical staff meetings and interviews with patients (1916-17), and records of the N.C. Eugenics Board (1958-59). Utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach, Allen and Almond, together with their students, are exploring these unique materials and their ethical use in research, graduate and professional teaching/training, and public engagement.

Dr. Robert C. Allen is the director of the UNC’s Digital Innovation Lab, launched in 2011. The lab undertakes and facilitates the production of digital humanities tools, projects, and programs as “public goods.” His work in digital humanities includes “Going to the Show,” an online digital resource documenting the history of movie going in North Carolina, which was awarded the American Historical Association’s Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History in 2011, and “Main Street, Carolina,” an ongoing program for engaging with cultural heritage organizations in N.C. in the creation of digital history projects. For this project he received the first C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities at UNC-CH in 2009.

Sarah E. Almond is the assistant director of UNC’s Community Histories Workshop. She previously served two years as the program coordinator of the Dorothea Dix Park History Initiative. She is a recent graduate of the joint Masters program between NCSU and UNC-SILS, and holds a MA in Public History in addition to a MSLS with a focus on archives and records management. Her primary interests include archival accessibility and representation, implementation of community archiving practices, and digital humanities pedagogy. She holds certificates in Digital History (NCSU) as well as Digital Curation (UNC-SILS), and is the designer and co-creator of Redlining Hayti, which links discriminatory lending practices and urban renewal in her hometown of Durham, NC. She holds a BA, summa cum laude, in Literature and Language from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.


September 3, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Dawne Lucas
Comments are closed.