UC Davis student Arthur Koehl (Computer Science, History and Economics ’17) created a website for his senior project that maps the stories of soldiers who fought in World War II. The library’s digital scholarship program helps faculty and students like Koehl learn how to use digital technology and data analysis techniques — such as text mining, GIS mapping and data visualization — to advance their research. Inspired by his great-uncle’s experience as a French soldier conscripted by the German army in WWII, Koehl began reading memoirs and tagging passages by date and location.
Approximately 130,000 French men from Moselle and Alsace were conscripted into the German army between 1942 and 1945 and became known as the “Malgre-Nous,” because they were fighting for another country that was not their own. Koehl’s senior project presents the story of the Malgre-Nous in a new way by allowing readers to choose a specific battle on a map and then read passages of the soldiers’ memoirs about it.
Koehl says digital scholarship empowered him to learn a new technology that has allowed him to see WWII history in a new way.
Experts with the library’s Digital Scholars Lab provide consultative services to help UC Davis faculty, students and researchers analyze information and transform data into visually compelling models, like Koehl’s interactive WWII map. Thanks to the techniques he learned from the library’s digital scholarship program, Koehl was able to complete the project he calls “the most important thing I did as an undergrad.”