Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


What could we learn by merging digital tools with traditional research in History? How could data mining large amounts of letter texts give a deeper depth of understanding to what the letters of soldiers during war contained? This project delves into merging traditional research methods with the digital world to analyze word trends in the letters of the everyday soldier from the First World War. What can be assessed by comparing the unpublished letters of soldiers to those published during the war? Using, can add value to traditional methodology by assisting in discovering the emergence of trends or repetition in word uses of the authors. The goal of this project is to support my thesis work, by establishing that published letters during the war maintained a strong connection to the battlefields, thus perpetuating propaganda to keep fighting. This was not the pulse of reality on the front lines. There was a vital link to the home front, and the letters that soldiers wrote home did not talk of valor or sacrifice for their country, but instead, spoke of home. Using digital tools support these arguments and by displaying the word trends and word clouds generated, add visual evidence.