Dani Willcutt, a second-year Ph.D. student in the History Department at Michigan State University and CHI (Cultural Heritage Informatics) Fellow for the 2019-2020 year, is working on a project to combine food mapping and digitizing culinary resources. This specific project will “bring Malinda Russell’s A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen (1866) to life in a digital format.” As Willcutt explains:
One of food mapping’s significant uses is to answer questions of food security, but that is not the extent to food mapping’s uses. Mapping food systems allows researchers to visualize and measure food-related issues within a specific geographic location, which is why it is a useful tool for assessing food insecurity. This is how scholars have been able to recognize “food deserts”—or those locations with high rates of hunger and low access to healthy food options.
Food mapping is a tool for visualizing data, and Willcutt plans to use it bring new life to her subject. She hopes to “connect her story of movement to the details of her life as a free Black woman during the Civil War in the 1860s.
This project may be of interest to librarians who are interested in data visualization tools and how they can complement historical investigations.