Distant Reading of The Crisis with Voyant Tools

Considering the range of publication years of The Crisis, I used Voyant Tools to see the woman’s suffrage movement fused in the magazine along with the race issues. Since it was not a one-time movement, but a long-term one, I found it super helpful to track the movement within the circle of The Crisis columnists and audience, using Voyant Tools which extracts the results across the whole series of magazine issues. I first typed in “suffrag*” and saw the five peaks—04.5 being the highest, then 10.4, 15.1, 11.1, and 12.3 in sequence—in the graph that deal with the suffrage movement the most. Thinking that it is not as often as I imagined, I became curious about how frequently The Crisis deals with any issues pertinent to woman and typed “woman*.” As it’s shown in the graph below, the top three peaks coincide with the results of “suffrage*,” which reveals that one of the main social issues The Crisis printed in relation to woman is the woman’s suffrage movement, at least before 1920s.


Meanwhile, I became curious about whether the suffrage issue dies down after the 19th Amendment, and so I typed in the words, “disfranchise*,” “enfranchise*.” The result below shows that “disfranchise*” has a highest peak in 21.4, which seems to speak that after the enfranchisement for all people, the magazine is harshly critiquing the issue of disfranchisement still existing out there.


The experience of distant reading with Voyant Tools definitely helped me have a fresh perspective to see the construction of the context around the readings in longer period.