Explore Student Files - Introduction

Screenshot of the 'Explore student files' main page with tabs
Date of Post: 
February 25, 2016

We would like to introduce a group of pages — a set of dynamic tables or lists — that can help you see and understand the student files, and the stories they represent, in new ways. The ‘Explore Student Files’ section of the site provides a way to examine the student files we’ve currently digitized from a variety of angles. It aims to help researchers sift through the documentation, notice patterns, select areas for further attention, and, in general, explore a variety of research questions that are difficult to answer through the standard browse pages on the site by themselves.

The tables are set up under the various tabs (as shown in the screenshot) in the ‘Explore Student Files’ section of the site. These automatically update with new data when another student file is described and posted online. This allows researchers to identify patterns that exist among the over 5,200 student files available through the site, but will not include every student who attended the school. The results depend both on what the project team has been able to process thus far and what documentation was received and preserved by the National Archives.

This post is the first in a series of blog posts about ways to use this feature on the site. Each post will give a general overview of a particular tab and suggest some questions it could help you explore.

The main page of the ‘Explore Student Files’ section is a bit different from the others. It provides both a count and a list of all the student files currently available on the site. This list is initially sorted chronologically by date of entry, with details on how many document types the file includes and how many names have been tagged in the description. The setup of this page also allows for rudimentary explorations of how common various names were for students at the Carlisle Indian School. Search for “James,” for instance, and you find over 100 records, whereas “Michael” yields less than 20. While these results are imprecise (“James” also includes a student with the last name of “Jameson”), they do provide a starting point for more detailed research, or simply a way to inspire further curiosity.

Future posts will explore some of other tabs provided in the ‘Explore Student Files’ section, so stay tuned!