Preliminary Implementation and Analysis

Lee Chapel Digital Humanities Project

Ulemj Enkhbold, Ryan Grant, Nicole Porter and Hollis Tardy


Preliminary Implementation

Recall: What are your research questions?

Overarching Question

  • What was Lee’s intent for the purpose of the chapel, and how has that purpose changed over time, especially from its construction starting in 1867 through the 1920’s?

Supporting Questions:

  • How did Lee’s family perceive the chapel’s purpose during the time of the 1920s proposed renovations?

  • How would the renovations have altered our campus?

  • What is Lee Chapel used for now?  Is it used for the same purposes as when built?


What data have you collected to answer your research questions?

  • Primary Sources- Letters and Notes

    • Letters from Lee

    • Letters from outside sources

    • Trustee meeting notes

    • Letter from President Henry Louis Smith published in Sons of the Revolution Quarterly Magazine.

  • General Correspondence

    • Specifically, relating to proposed renovations in 1920

    • Letters between the then president and members of the Lee family

  • Blueprints

    • Original blueprints

    • Cathedral expansion plans

    • Original sketches and proposed sketches


What tools have you chosen to analyze the data (to answer your research questions)?

  • Sketchup: able to make a visual 3D image and determine how the proposed renovations would have changed Lee Chapel

    • Displays how enormous the building would have been in comparison to its current structure and how it would have become a more prominent and centralized structure on campus

    • Exhibits how drastically it could have changed from Lee’s original building

    • Puts the blueprints into perspective – while it may not be exact, it’s similar to what would have been constructed

  • Timeline: gives viewers a concise picture of the Chapel’s history

    • Neatly organizes the background history on Lee and the Chapel

    • Displays other important historical events in order to put events pertaining to Lee Chapel in perspective

  • Photogrammetry: used to make a model of the recumbent Lee statue

    • Allows the viewer to feel like they have been inside the Chapel

    • Gives the viewer a top view of the statue that they wouldn’t normally have

    • Explores the statue’s spatial relations

  • Text analysis: Contemporary thoughts concerning Lee’s original vision for the Chapel and the proposed renovations to Lee Chapel in the 1920s

    • Sons of the Revolution Magazine gives the then president’s stance on the issue.

    • Interesting primary sources that give insight into the Chapel’s purpose

    • Correspondence will be presented side by side to compare and show the progression of people’s opinions about changing Lee Chapel’s structure


What preliminary results have you generated?

  • Recovered from Special Collections:

    • Original letters from Lee and others in the Trustee Notes file detailing their reasons for wanting to build the Chapel

    • Correspondence between Lee’s family and other involved parties discussing the 1920s proposed renovations

  • Created a 3D model of the proposed renovations using blueprints from Special Collections

  • Created a 3D model of the recumbent Lee statue using photogrammetry


Preliminary Analysis

What are your preliminary answers to your research questions?

  • The chapel’s original purpose was for religious services and a meeting place for the student body; Lee wanted it to become a sort of “student center”

  • After Lee’s death, it evolved into a memorial or a shrine to Lee with the addition of the mausoleum and the recumbent statue

  • The proposal to expand it was disputed yet turned down because the Daughters of the Confederacy felt that the Chapel was a representation of Lee’s last contributions and should be preserved


Review your hypotheses.  Do they need to be refined?  Do you need to change the scope?  Break them down more?

  • Our old hypotheses stated that the physical structure of Lee Chapel, overall, is similar to what Lee envisioned, given that the renovations and changes never happened.  A lot of the building is kept the same way that Lee commissioned it, with minor necessary modernizations added over time.  The function of Lee Chapel changed soon after Lee’s death, becoming an effective shrine to Lee with the installment of the mausoleum and crypt.  Due to the fact that the 1920s proposed changes were not accepted, the function of Lee Chapel has remained similar to its commemoratory purpose.

  • Our current hypotheses are still the same as what they were a few days ago.  We know that Lee Chapel originally had a different function than what it did after Lee died and what it does now.  The structure itself is still largely the same albeit some minor changes like the addition of AC and other modern amenities.


What do you need to accomplish for the final implementation and analysis?

  • Need to find a good tool for analysis of the letters and correspondence from Special Collections

  • The use of text analysis is needed in order to reinforce our hypotheses as well as better explain the primary sources

  • Site organization– make it more aesthetically pleasing and easy to use as well as read and edit existing information


What questions do you have?

  • What elements do we want to highlight on our poster?

  • How do we choose which letters or documents to include in our poster?

  • How do we want to organize the existing elements on our site so that it can be user friendly?

  • How do we make the answers to our research questions clear?