Data for Times in Sound

The Data Tables

For the Sounds in Time project, I have drawn upon the rich database constructed by Dr. Stephen Davies at Vancouver Island University, the Canadian Letters and Images Project. During the fall and winter, I gathered over 850 letters from the WWI collection written by and to soldiers and their families from within a 150 km radius of London, Ontario where I live. I identified to whom and where the letters were being written, the relationships between sender and receiver, the dates of the soldiers’ births, of enlisting and for some, death. I am interested in exploring how situating primary historical material within its own geographical context can enhance our understanding of these people and their times. I have drawn phrases and words from these letters that exemplify the four broad themes of day to day reality for the men, for the women, speaking of the future, and talking of the war using idealistic phrases and language, as well as some phrases of address and closing address.

The vast majority of the letters were written by the young soldiers to their mothers, living in the homes, in the communities, surrounded by the neighbours, and on the land where these young men had spent the majority of their lives. Southwestern Ontario is still today primarily a rural, agricultural place, dotted with small to medium urban centres. As a function of what can survive to be archived from such times, we see primarily one side of the conversation — from the war to home. The letters link the two vastly different worlds — the world of the war and the world of the homes the soldiers left. 

Table of all the Letters

The Four Overarching Themes

In each of the following tables, the letter fragments have been cross-referenced with the information about the soldier, and a link provided to the full letter in the Canadian Letters and Images project. Each table represents one of the broad, overarching themes that I perceived amongst the letters. You can scroll within each table. Tapping on each card will open it into full view to allow you to see the details about the letter and about the soldier from this collection.

Day to Day Reality for the Men

Day to Day Reality for the Women

Speaking of the Future

The War Perceived through Idealistic Language

Visualizations of the Data in Palladio

In the first part of the project, I explored all the letters of the defined database and analyzed relationships, connections and patterns among them. The patterns I found most interesting highlighted the primary relationships among the author of the letter to the recipients. The frequency of the letter writing was also quite fascinating as well as the items that were shipped to the men at the front. It became clear how much of a collaborative effort this was — with a constant wave sending support both physical and emotional from the folks at home to the soldiers overseas.

Relationship of Letter Addressee to Author of Letter
Visualization of letters written from Son to Mother/Father