Visualisation tools

To see some of the visualisations created by Niall O'Leary, using metadata from letter collections held at the Immigration History Research Centre at the University of Minnesota and the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies in Omagh, Northern Ireland, please follow this link:

Niall's most recent project, 'Visual Correspondence: Analysing Letters Through Data Visualisation', builds on work carried out for the DEM project. 'Visual Correspondence' is currently in the development stage; the project aims to aggregate and visualise historical letter collections from around the world. The site will allow researchers to study the correspondence, interactions and movements of letter writers from the last five centuries. 


One area we were particularly interested in exploring is how digital technologies can be used to visualise marked-up letter collections in useful and meaningful ways (using geo-tags to visualise locations and the movement of people, for example, or using wordtrees and wordclouds to identify themes or phraseological patterns in the discourse). Paul Stephenson, Freelance Programmer (email:, developed the Wordtree interface, which he later adapted for use with emigrant letters. The following link will take you to a Wordtree interface which was created for a small collection of migrant letters (the Lough Family Letters): Lough Wordtree.

Typescripts and photocopies of the original Lough Family Letters are housed at Kerby A. Miller's archive at the University of Missouri. 

About the Lough letters:

In the early 1950s, a few of the Lough letters were initially donated by Canice and Eilish O’Mahony of Dundalk, County Louth, to Arnold Schrier, then a graduate student at Northwestern University, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, who subsequently employed them, alongside other epistolary documents, in his 1958 book Ireland and the Irish Emigration, 1850-1900. In 1977-78 the rest of the Lough letters were donated to Kerby Miller by the O’Mahonys and by Edward Dunne and Kate Tynan of Portlaoise, County Laois. Both Miller and Schrier, who thereafter collaborated in researching Irish migration to America, made photocopies and transcriptions of these letters, and Miller returned the original manuscripts to their donors. We thank the donors, Professor Schrier and, in particular, Professor Miller for their generosity in allowing us to use the Lough letters in this project.

The Lough letters were digitised and marked-up for author, recipient, date and location information by Emma Moreton, Coventry University in 2012. Some of these digitised letters were then used to create the Lough Wordtree. We’re very keen to hear your thoughts on the usefulness of the Lough Wordtree - please do get in touch with any feedback.