Dispatches from Cairo

Text analysis project of American and British diplomatic cables from Cairo, 1955-1965, 2016-Present

This project was my first foray into using digital history methods in my research. Prior to this project, I had mostly been interested in digital pedagogy, but after some encouragement from Micki Kaufman (whose work is amazing and if you’re not familiar with it, check out her project Quantifying Kissinger) I decided to delve into some text analysis methods.

I initially started with just organizing my materials, which you can see here.

Then I used a combination of David McClure’s Textplot, Voyant’s Principal Components Analysis, AntConc, Mallet, and OverviewDocs to explore how words in the documents clustered and co-located.

At the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Conference in 2015, I presented some early findings, and talked about how this helped me identify anti-colonial meanings in my sources.

After the conference, I set up a website for the project, and you can read more here.

I plan to continue analyzing these materials and updating my findings, as well as delving into statistics to further refine the models I’m using on my textual sources.