Student Projects | Macalester College | Spring 2018

Digital projects like the following require collaboration. We would like to give special thanks to Ashley Nepp, Lisa Lendway, and Brook Bergantzel for their help troubleshooting issues along the way.

Stuck in a Sod House: The Impact of Family Structure on Homestead Value | By Fiona Adams

By analyzing the Polk County proof statements, this paper predicts a claimant’s ability to add value to their homestead by looking at the effects of sex, immigration status, and number of children on acreage development on the plains. Using primarily statistical modeling and analysis, this project includes an interactive prediction of acreage cultivated and improved upon to reveal patterns in homesteader farming success.

Spatial Analysis of Homesteaders in Polk County | By Esther Ramsay and Lukas Matthews

Our project examines the Polk County Homestead data using a series of maps. We aim to discover any variation in demographics and success of Homesteaders. Our maps are prominently featured within our reflection on Homestead scholarship, and we have also linked to an interactive interface called Story Map to supplement.

Little Clout on the Prairie: Perceived Success Within the Homestead Act of 1862 | By Maria Peterson

Due to the inaccessibility of homesteading records, scholars have largely judged the Homestead Act’s success based on whether settlers managed to prove up. However, newly digitized records and data mining strategies have opened up new forms of historical inquiry and the opportunity to nuance the conversation surrounding the success of individual settlers rather than the Act as a whole. This paper uses data and text analysis to determine if these new strategies are accurate and productive at filling in the gaps in anecdotal evidence.

Modeling Acreage Cultivated for Homesteaders in Polk County, Nebraska | By Everett Hommes

By applying various exploratory and predictive methodologies in statistical analysis and machine learning, this project attempts to model acreage cultivated as a quantitative measure of success in homesteading using variables such as infrastructural improvements, married partnerships, presence of women, household size, and claimant age.  Single and multiple linear regression, exploratory analyses, cross validation, nonparametric loess regression and smoothing were all used to help determine powerful predictors, models, and statistically significant factors in determining acreage cultivated on homesteads in Polk County, Nebraska.

Snapshots of the Homestead Act | By Kevin Omodt

Using data from previous research done in Custer and Dawes Counties in Nebraska, this project compares and contrasts the makeups of these homesteader groups, and uses them to examine the differences in homesteaders in Nebraska in general as time moved on and different people began seeking a new start on the prairie. It specifically focuses on immigrant groups, as well as the settlement patterns in each county.