One of the most interesting conversations I had at Women’s History in the Digital Word occurred with Cameron Blevins and Bridget Baird over the lunch, and then Jeri Wieringa joined us.  I was desperate to find out what sort of metric they applied in their fascinating analysis of Martha Ballard and Elizabeth Drinker’s diaries

So based on my corpus of about 1.5m words (1800+ items), they suggested 60 topics, more than double what I’d ever tried.

We also discussed how topic modeling works wells for some sources (things with short relatively coherent content, like newspapers and diaries) but not so well for some other things potentially.  Jeri noted that she and Fred Gibbs‘ had discussed this issue as well but concluded that different algorithms might be necessary for topic modeling different sources.  Of course if we get into individual writing idiosyncrasies, well we are looking at some custom scripting then right (Which is when Bridget told me I could never pass one of her classes OH SNAP, she is FABULOUS BTW).

ANYWHO using David Newman’s mallett tool I had yet ANOTHER RUN at Off Our Backs and DANG if it didn’t work out pretty nicely. HOLLA Jon Goodwin!

List of Topics

1. book read life review woman story writing books stories reading
2. women studies university woman feminist students movement academic program place
3. government federal state states rights national congress act welfare funds
4. prison prisoners prisons security guards unit inmates alderson support state
5. words woman language mary female daly male reality rich ing
6. feminist movement feminists radical feminism political theory oppression politics liberation
7. people problem page mental make fact continued major tion lack
8. court case law judge legal decision state info supreme suit
9. de indian native la land el american americans people en
10. women music records art festival woman politics work record collective
11. black white racism color racist culture wimmin race sexism racial
12. family social marriage families married economic wives left wife poor
13. home long told asked homes make nursing care leave person
14. night day woman eyes hands room left head water waiting
15. music songs song concert band album jazz audience voices blues
16. women french international london delphy england countries british body canada
17. school back high girls play boys students student began bus
18. women box year issues send postage order issue ca st
19. program job action programs equal part affirmative jobs training benefits
20. oob issue article letter dear letters backs sisters read collective
21. back death page bar long north stop country brown found
22. military political draft repression army country prisoners armed solidarity oil
23. effective credit estrogen business treatment months products loss company temporary
24. lesbian lesbians gay lesbianism community world straight les coming sexuality
25. hospital study des dr woman medical found research doctors cancer
26. collective backs friends women issue members washington oob member news
27. made paper left backs day began ing good susan close
28. press page struggle war big york diana con clear past
29. gay national rights march era anti groups people committee coalition
30. life fact find fear woman subject human con matter power
31. march june contact lady july college fund sept newsletter boston
32. years time year small number half full make ago end
33. women conference workshop issues workshops discussion felt issue spoke con
34. feminist books press news woman book working street write publications
35. children child fat mothers care parents custody food living day
36. abortion abortions woman women health anti clinic law state life
37. people ing country party jewish revolution great jews chinese china
38. rights discrimination sexual state human order district sex civil action
39. rape police violence woman men man raped battered victims assault
40. work means part society terms question control word questions time
41. love feel woman lives experience felt learn personal make hard
42. young education age public services include system provide disabled concern
43. work women workers working labor job jobs men unions office
44. mother child father mothers woman husband family daughter life baby
45. don people time didn ve lot things thing good put
46. women men male sex woman sexual female man heterosexual social
47. women st call write dc ny nw box center lesbian
48. health women birth control drug medical sterilization pregnancy pill rate
49. womyn time ms space moon dance energy god make play
50. center community money area washington information house day local page
51. city news san gays francisco campaign public bill protest california
52. women group groups meeting members political network meetings issues land
53. defense trial jury jail grand years committee criminal murder fbi
54. union strike workers nurses support contract management hospital employees fired
55. pornography women speech york porn fritz woman prostitution violence issue
56. power world culture freedom free society patriarchal consciousness nature future
57. film show movie women radio media shows films showing history
58. nuclear power coal energy virginia plant jean mine mines west
59. work support world working political important process women time system
60. parthenogenesis human ii parthenogenetic science development egg genetic eggs jane

So using same metric I ran 30 topics on 600K word corpus of Chrysalis (156 items). The text is less clean, so the clusters have some non words, and the results don’t seem quite as clear.  
1. body blood earth nature red eyes skin made horse dark
2. paper work women domestic century community hbk workers pbk york
3. art work women artist artists piece experience female painting making
4. woman life kollwitz mystery age face drawing miss drawings green
5. chrysalis women issue feminist susan rich magazine ca review angeles
6. movement feminist political lives social change feminism personal women years
7. language poem poems poetry voice woman world english speak meaning
8. money information national center includes foundation education news program project
9. es ed en st con al sh ing pr ave
10. film rainer star death films movie force world kristina scene
11. love poet death great sisters wind thoughts lived thalia power
12. pp york books fiction joanna book angeles de los russ
13. woman love long back ve ll school heart words run
14. sexual freud father child children mother science female ref man
15. women woman lesbian female feminist work power male patriarchal culture
16. female male sex transsexual society body gender reality trans medical
17. back water sharon room face hands hand arms turn white
18. family home professional public child world values social personal human
19. life sense human order time find true today feelings part
20. book press books mary writers author reader publishing written writer
21. ing er writing journal book life experience tone subject lives
22. goddess er moon mother vision ancient god nature ritual white
23. black white women anthony woman rights stanton power suffrage racism
24. publishing wald books goldman publishers nuclear sales helen million market
25. women tion made men ment control make power past feminists
26. mother didn time father daughter children years don daughters mothers
27. women men woman man male society real fact american female
28. people work world don time thing good years things year
29. women play theater plays feminist theatre mother daughter collective founded
30. cancer breast healing health er body radiation medicine herbs study