The following projects are recipients of the inaugural round of Digital Humanities Seed Grant funding. These grants support the development of new research projects that analyze digital sources, apply algorithmic methods to humanities data, or create digital publications, exhibits, or websites. The Digital Humanities Seed Grant program, made possible by the Research Technology Faculty Advisory Board, builds upon NYU’s institutional capacity in Digital Humanities work.
The Brown Brothers Collection is a collaborative, cross-institutional research project that will develop robust teaching, research, and public humanities resources that leverage the digitized Brown Brothers & Company archives held by the New York Public Library. Founded in 1825 by Irish immigrants, this New York bank remains in operation as one of the largest private financial services firms in the city, Brown Brothers Harriman. An initial phase of collection’s digitization was recently completed with support from a Hidden Archives grant. We anticipate many kinds of stories that might be told from this collection, ranging from the history of global finance capital and the New York banking sector to New York City’s financial and administrative role in the slave economy. This pilot seeks to create a dataset and machine-readable transcriptions encompassing the contents of the original records, and to develop potential uses of the data by scholars, teachers, and the general public as an open-access resource.
This project will establish a website that showcases the finest writing generated by students enrolled in NYU’s Prison Education Project. Unlike many websites that publish diaristic writing from the incarcerated, this website focuses on displaying students’ abilities as critical and creative thinkers fully capable of engaging in rigorous academic and scholarly work. The aim is to provide a wider forum for these students’ work and to illustrate the intellectual integrity of incarcerated students’ academic potential in ways that are not reflected in the existing publishing platforms. By highlighting their ability to see connections across disparate texts, to situate their experiences within the context of a broader intellectual history, and to use theoretical texts as prisms to deepen and expand the meaning and significance of a range of evidence, this project hopes to contribute to the reshaping of perceptions and understanding of the incarcerated.
The “Holding Hiring Algorithms Accountable and Creating New Tools for Humanistic Research” project is led by Prof. Hilke Schellmann (Journalism) and Dr. Mona Sloane (Tandon). It focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) and hiring. Thanks to AI, hiring is undergoing a quiet, yet earth-shaking revolution. Many Fortune 500 companies employ AI-based solutions to weed through the millions of job applications the companies receive every year. The problem: many companies don’t want to reveal what technology they are using and vendors don’t want to reveal what’s in the black box, despite evidence that some automated decision making systems make biased and/or arbitrary decisions. This project combines methods of investigative journalism, sociology, and data science to develop a new socio-technical tool for critically investigating and auditing AI systems used in hiring.
Raising the Volume is a cross-departmental initiative to transform a historically and culturally rich radio program on Black and Latino culture into a collaboratively curated collection as data. The NYU Division of Libraries and the NYU Institute of African American Affairs collaborated on a series of events in 2020 inviting community members to correct auto-generated transcripts of digital audio files of the radio program. In the second half of the project, we plan to collaboratively create and curate a dataset consisting of these transcriptions and Wikidata items and to support a graduate student project in the digital humanities.
The South African Jewish Cookbook Project will digitize a corpus of 50 community cookbooks, created by South African Jewish women during the apartheid era. It will unite the cookbooks, collected from a broad range of institutions and private individuals spread across the globe, into a single digital collection. The project will present the cookbooks on a curated website, where users will be able to search, browse, and interact with the books, and read a series of interlinked encyclopedia-style articles exploring the wider significance of the cookbook corpus for South African and Jewish culture, history, and culinary practice. The project will be of particular value to members of the South African Jewish diaspora, particularly those interested in culinary heritage, communal history, and genealogical research, as well as for scholars working on topics relating to South Africa, food, Judaism, race, gender, and the postwar period. It will actively engage the public, encouraging users to contribute cookbooks and share written and video memories relating to the cookbooks and to South African Jewish food culture.