Application Framework

The Jesuit Online Necrology, launched in Summer 2021, was developed at Boston College Libraries. The database was built using open source technology and features a Ruby on Rails framework with a Blacklight discovery interface, PostgreSQL, and Solr index. All of the code used for this database is available in the Libraries’ GitHub repository. 


One goal of the Jesuit Lives Project is to experiment with multimodal ways to delve into the more than 32,000 individuals who appear in the Catalogus defunctorum in renata Societate Iesu. While the main searchable application is an invaluable resource, the visualizations offer alternate pathways to explore these lives and to ask and answer different kinds of questions. Two approaches are taken here: mapping visualizations are available that allow you to search or filter by different individual characteristics of a Jesuit; a variety of of dashboards created using the Tableau platform, meanwhile, ask specific questions about the statistics surrounding the recorded lives of these Jesuit missionaries.


The interactive maps seen in this project were created through the use of the open-source LeafletJS javascript library.  The cleaned Catalogus defunctorum datasets, including the data associated with individauls, with provinces, and with specific locations, were transformed into .json files and run through python scripts in order to integrate the appropriate spatial data and reorganize the files for use with Leaflet. Detailed information on the steps involved for each map can be found in the project Github.

In addition to the standard LeafletJS library, a variety of plugins were used to expand the functionality of the maps. The project team thanks the creators of these plugins and recognizes them here.

    • Leaflet.Pancontrol: a simple panning controller for leaflet that allows maps to be more accessible to users with screenreaders (by kartena)
    • Leaflet.Control.Search: A Leaflet Control for search markers/features location by attribute and much more (by Stephano Cudini)
    • Leaflet.markercluster: Provides animated marker clustering functionality, particularly useful when there is a large amount of data visible on a map at the same time (by yukunzeng)
    • noUISlider: a lightweight javascript range slider with touch support (MIT)
    • Leaflet.movingmarker:  A Leaflet plug-in to create moving marker. Very useful to represent transportations or other movable things (by ewoken)
    • Leaflet.zoomHome: Used to create the home button, along with FontAwesome (by torfson).

The jQuery and wNumb javascript libraries were also utilized for the Jesuit Lives map.


The interactive data visualizations seen in this project were created using Tableau Desktop Version 2021.1. Tableau Desktop is one of the Tableau developer tools which is used for development such as the creation of charts, dashboards, report generation. The project data sources were imported into Tableau with Google sheets connector, the data relationship was defined based on matching data fields in Tableau, visualizations were designed in Tableau desktop. All the final visualization were published to Tableau public which is an online platform which allows user to publicly share and explore data visualizations online, the project set google sheets as a data source in Tableau Public and it will keep the visualization synced with the sheet updates.