MAPACA Music and the Performing Arts in Colonial America


The first thing to know about searching MAPACA is that it makes use of multiple fields that help you drill down on specific tables in the database. This is not a single-field search engine, but works along the lines of Google's advanced search options. If this page does not answer your questions, try the MAPACA forum.

The search fields are divided into two columns. On the left are the full text content search ( 1 ), and filters that narrow your search according to information about the publication such as the date range of newspapers to search ( 2 ), publication colonies ( 3 ) and cities ( 4 ), and newpaper titles ( 5 ), so for example, you could search for all occurrences of the word "bells" in newspapers published between 1755 and 1766 in Massachusetts not including Boston, or all occurrences in the Pennsylvania Gazette. The content field ( 1 ) has a powerful drop-down menu that when combined with chaining (see below) allows complex full text searches within the content of articles.

The right column presents the geographic location of the events that take place in the articles, for example bells ringing in England. The first group ("referred region") allows you to filter for events by region ( 11 ). North America and Canada can also be filtered by sub-regions and European political affiliation by expanding the menus, for example New England, or French Canada. "Referred location" ( 12 ) is a specific town or city where the event took place.

SQL queries can be previewed by clicking "SEE SQL" ( 6 ), searches are executed with the "SEARCH" button ( 7 ), and the query builder can be reset via the "RESET" buton ( 8 ).

Users can SAVE their searches for later modification by clicking "SAVE" ( 9 ). This will download a .mapaca file to the user's computer. To work with a saved .mapaca file, click "LOAD" ( 10 ). The user will be prompted to upload a previously-downloaded .mapaca file which, if successfully uploaded, will populate the interface with saved queries.

You can chain multiple search terms by clicking the plus sign next to the appropriate fields.

Each chained search item has a set of options:

Each item can be deleted with the X, edited, or toggled between AND and OR relationship with the following item in the chain. The example above (working with the CONTENT field) would search for the exact phrase "british sailors" AND the term "fiddle." Making subsequent specifications on fields such as year, colony or title would hone the results. All groups of chains are joined by an AND operation when submitted to the search engine.

All text fields except for CONTENT make use of look-ahead typing, facilitating quick drills on the existing data sets.

Another way to think about the data relationships is to consider Figure 1. The location of the publication is somewhere in the colonies and its citations refer to somewhere in the world. The MAPACA search fields tie these references together, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.
  Publication     Title     Year
  City     Content     Colony

Once you have a set of results you want to further analyze, you can download them from the results page as a CSV file which can be imported into excel, R, or the statistical package of your choice. Future versions of the database will incorporate some of these functions along with visualizations into the web interface.

Here are is an example of a complex search to get an idea of the power of the search interface.

Find all articles relating to bells being rung that were published in New England and refer to bells rung in North America, excluding New England. This is an indicator of inter-regional solidarity as it changed over time. Compare with all bells reports published in NE about bells rung in NE, and same for bells rung in Old England. Change over time indicates increasing association with other colonies over time and decreasing association with London, with intra-regional (i.e. bells rung in NE and published in NE) remaining constant. This could be used as an indicator for emerging American identity. You could then run the search on the whole database rather than just on bells as a comparison.