James Madison’s Meteorological Journal vol. 1, 1784-1788

james madison’s meteorological journal
James Madison’s Meteorological Journal vol. 1, 1784-1788
10/7/2021 21:48:32
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Citation for full object
James Madison’s Meteorological Journal vol. 1, 1784-1788
Filename in shared drive folder
James Madison’s Meteorological Journal
General description of the complete original artifact
The first volume of James Madison’s meteorological journal is a collection of data on several environmental occurrences such as weather patterns, wind directions, bird migration, and falling of leaves. Madison recorded this data on his plantation called Montpelier. This is the first of two volumes and it records weather information from the years 1784 to 1788. While most of the data set is written by James Madison, certain parts are documented by his wife – Dolley Madison. On each page of the data set, Madison focuses on twelve primary categories that encompass everything that was occurring on his plantation. While Madison typically kept a straightforward data collection process where he would describe the weather or wind in the same way each day, he used the last three categories namely falling of leaves, birds life, and miscellanea in a more casual note-taking manner. In these three sections, Madison would write brief sentences about what he saw such as “peach tree begin to blossom” or “wild geese flying Northward”. Overall, James Madison’s meteorological journal gives a detailed account of the weather conditions and environmental occurrences on his plantation.
Estimated number of records in data set
Estimated number of fields if this were a database
Estimated time to digitize all records in set (hours)
On average, I would say that each page would take about 15 minutes to digitize into a spreadsheet. Being that there are 89 pages, I think it would take about 22 hours to digitize all the records in this data set.
Time period when data was created
The time period when the data was created was from 1784 to 1788.
Organization creating data
The data was not created by an organization, but it was scanned by the American Philosophical Society.
Individual who created data (if known or guessable).
The individual who created the data was James Madison. Some of the writing was also done by Dolley Madison.
Shortcomings of this taxonomy for data set (if any)
One of the shortcomings of this data set is Madison’s daily description of the weather. Madison often uses terms such as “very hot” or “fair” to describe the weather. These terms, while they give a general sense of the weather, are ambiguous and unlike a precise temperature, lead us to speculate what the weather was truly like.
Notes about the image you chose
I chose James Madison’s Meteorological Journal because I think it shows a different perspective into the life of America's fourth president. Not only are we able to see Madison’s passion for weather patterns and plant life, but we are also given a glimpse into his day-to-day life. One example of this is when Madison didn’t record a data entry on the night of September 17, 1787 – the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. I found this to be really interesting because it allows one to speculate what Madison was doing on such an important day in American history. Whether he was further reviewing the document or celebrating with his friends, this lack of a data entry allows the reader to theorize how Madison was spending his free time.