Digital Exhibition
For A Forgotten Past

Using data visualizations, interactive maps, language analysis, digital storytelling techniques to tell the story of a Quaker family in 19th Philadelphia.


4 months


Project Manager + Product Designer


Cormac Rada, Brandon Smith
Andrew Kafker

By The Numbers

Old Memories

In the summer of 2014, three Haverford College students, Cormac Quinn Rada '17, Brandon Smith '16, and Andrew Kafker '17, conducted archival research in the Cope Evans Family Papers for Haverford College’s Special Collections, Digital Scholarship Department. The papers include letters, financial documents, diaries, and shipping information. This project engages with the collection through prose and data visualization.


Digitized Items



7.5 linear ft

Of Boxed Materials


The Cope and Evans families were two prominent Quaker families in Philadelphia. They were influential in their roles as merchants and businessmen, philanthropists, and educators, but until 2014, their place in Quaker history remained relatively unknown, along with the themes explored in their large collection.



While the close reading of original texts  remains an important part of scholarly research it remains buried behind catalogs and inside institutional archives.  New digital techniques can be used to to reach wider, more public audiences, attracting relevant scholars and supporting students in their development as researchers and critical thinkers.

Pain Point

Unused Metadata

While the ContentDM system used by the library allowed for searching through the digitized items, it did not take full advantage of the available metadata, including geospatial metadata.

THE Solution

Creating a digital exhibition that places the Cope family within the social, cultural, economic, and political landscape  during a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization in America.  


The Cope
Evans Families

The Cope Evan's project is a web-based data visualization project  built using Django, the D3 and Mapbox.js, and bootstrap libraries. Explore the family dendrogram, a horizontally-oriented family tree, to see the Copes' and Evanses' familial connections. This family tree encompasses thirteen generations of Quakers dating back to the late sixteenth century with the birth of John Cope. In this tree you can see how prominent Quaker families such as the Copes, Evans, and Drinkers are closely connected by marriage.



Uses geographical data of each writer and recipient of the letter and plots it on a map to show the complete breadth of this extensive network.

Explore the Cope Evan's Website


The chart here plots the number of letters on the y-axis, against the year the letters were written on the x-axis.  The letters are distributed by subject. Filtering by subject areas like family, lifestyle, love, and travel will reveal the frequency of letters on those subjects between 1800 and 1910.This visualization is an exploratory tool for the collection. Many of the subjects that you can filter by are related to domestic and every day life of the family members.



exploration of the data, presented thematic patterns that directed researchers back to the original materials and the resulting work represented a broader and deeper connection to the materials. One such example is Clementine Cope's scrapbook. She filled it with illustrations from magazines such as Harper’s, photographs, poems, sketches and drawing, newspaper article clippings, and obituaries throughout her life. The illustrations  reflect a sense of romanticism and captured scenes of domesticity, a new cosmopolitan life, and spiritual development.  



Textual analysis was done to  chart the frequency of the use of plain language words “thee” and “thy” within the transcribed Cope Evans letters to see the social transition from traditional to modern, social practices of religion.


Archival Research

Created a shared knowledge base of the user's key responsibilities, pain points, desired outcomes, available data sources, and indicators that drive decision making.

Secondary Research

An analysis of current reports and work products, allowed us to map those insights to indicators within key metrics, gather business and data transformation logic, find gaps and inconsistencies, as well as the need and value of integrating multiple data sources.

Design & Development

Co-Creation sessions were held to verify what we heard, co-create initial schemas for solutions, and provide priority into the focus of subsequent sprints. Below are the initial concepts, logical design schemas, and high-fidelity comps.