Thinking about Workflow: DH 1.0

In the spring of 2011, I was in the middle of doing research for my dissertation. I had recently returned from my second extended trip to the archives in the Netherlands and Belgium and had accumulated a ton of notes. I knew that technology had drastically altered the possibilities for research, but the fundamentals of my own workflow were hardly different than they had been when I began undergrad in the early 2000s. Sure, I used the internet to watch Netflix, but the basic tools—centered on the Microsoft Office Suite—were essentially the same. One day, I gave in to the nagging feeling that I was not getting enough out of my computer, that there were better ways of doing things. I started to poke around the internet to see if I could find ways to improve my workflow. What started as a distraction soon turned into a months-long project on finding better tools for conducting research. I quickly realized that the actual process of getting work done, doing research and writing papers, is little discussed in graduate school. Early career graduate students are so busy reading, writing, and generally trying to keep up, that the process of how to do the work is easily pushed to the background. Since then, I have tried to think critically and systematically about my workflow and have often discussed this with others.

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By Way of Introduction

In this introductory post I want to lay out the reasons for the creation of this website, to discuss some content that I will be looking to create, and to set some goals for the site. First though, I should first introduce myself. I am a historian of early modern Europe. My research investigates merchant families and the social basis of trade, politics, and religion. Specifically, I have worked in the archives of the Van der Meulens and Della Failles, two merchant families from Antwerp involved in European-wide trade at the end of the sixteenth century. I am currently working on a manuscript that argues for the significance of sibling relationships and inheritance in the development of early modern capitalism. In addition, I am working on some digital humanities projects using the two archives.

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