Archive for April, 2012

Reflecting at the End…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

At the beginning of this semester, the James Monroe Museum political cartoon group was faced with the task of taking 114 cartoons present in the collection at the museum in downtown Fredericksburg and make it accessible to the public. Our project took the form of creating an archive where each and every cartoon would be available to the public with historical commentary to guide the audience of researchers, educators, and the interested public. Looking back on this semester and at this extensive project, this group not only fulfilled what was promised in the contract, but also a great digital history resource was made available as the end result.

After deciding that this project would feature all 114 cartoons and that they would be presented as an archive, we ventured to the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library to assess the collection of cartoons. Discovering that we already had photos of all the cartoons, we were able to focus our project on bettering the quality of the images, taking pictures of those that were overlooked, categorize the total collection into separate exhibits based on topic, and do research on the events discussed in each cartoon. We then were able to focus on the website itself, deciding on a site platform and what kind of information architecture we wanted to use in displaying this weird, but wonderful collection.

In the beginning, we decided on using Omeka.net as our site support because of its great image hosting capabilities, its exhibit builder, and the Dublin Core data design, which guided our information architecture. Due to the limitations of Omeka.net however, we eventually decided to move everything over onto its brother site, Omeka.org.  While this move was never noted in the contract, we still fulfilled this obligation because we are still using an Omeka based platform.

In building the site, as a group the four of us made sure we distributed the tasks evenly. Although some members were more eager to do more than they should, we made sure no one overstepped their boundaries and that no one took over another’s task. For example, Rachel I. oversaw the writing of the content labels because with her experience with museum work, she knew what components made for a good exhibit label. Andrew, Rachel L., and myself wrote a third of the labels and had Rachel I. look over them for both continuity and to make sure they flowed with each other. We also divided cleaning up the images, citing sources, and making the individual exhibits in this way. We also made sure we had our own little projects, such as my construction of the timeline and my collaboration with Rachel L. on the educational resources page. I can safely say that each group member took their responsibilities in stride and did what they said they were going to do.

Comparing the result of our project with our contract, it is important to note that while we came close to needing to change things around, we never did. The only thing that we were not always faithful in fulfilling was having certain aspects of the site completed by every due date. When this happened though, we were within reason. With my project, the timeline, I had plug-in compatibility issues and this caused us to be two weeks late with its completion. Otherwise, each group member met their due date. In the end, our project came out the way we planned it would. We succeeded in making this unique collection public using every resource and presenting every aspect we said we would. I am very proud with how this came out and feel that we were very successful in creating a substantial piece to contribute to digital history.

Final Countdown!!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

This week, we had presentations for Research and Creativity Day as an aside to our continuing work on our websites. Overall, I was impressed with everyone’s presentations. With the feedback our group got today from Dr. McClurken, I feel that my group will have an excellent presentation prepared for the History Symposium next week. Having already given a presentation on a thesis, I feel confident that we’ll be very impressive and will blow the crowd away with our final products!

Other than presentations, we have reached that time in the semester where everyone is making those finishing touches/ last minute uploads to our pages. Right now I am going through all my citations and making sure they are in proper Turabian format and uploading both the note and bibliographical citations to the site. Other than that, I have also tweaked the education page a little bit more and will finally get that timeline I have been having difficulty with up by Saturday at the latest.

Its all finally coming together and I must say that I am proud of all we have accomplished so far :).

Contemplations on Digital History

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Over this Easter weekend, our assignment has been to check out a couple of articles and an excellent example of what and how digital history is done. While we have spent these past weeks working on our website and reading up on how to go about it, these articles discuss how it is taught, considered, and whether or not its methods apply to the study of history today.

The two articles I looked at include Christopher Millers Strange Facts in the History Classroom: or How I learned to Sto Worry and Love the Wiki(pedia) and Adrea Lawerence’s Learning How to Write Analog and Digital History. Both articles discussed how Wikipedia was part of the study and commented on how this website has grown from a considered unreliable source to something that has to be reconsidered over the years. Both articles also talk about how history is done differently from traditional history in such that digital history allows the historian to be that more creative and keep adding on to their research, updating it with new information.

Which leads us to the footnotes of The Age of Lincoln, written by Orville Burton. His online footnote resource allowed him to continue to contribute to his book a year after his book’s publication. With traditional history, once its printed, it cannot be easily added to without revamping the entire work. With Burton putting his footnotes online, he allowed himself to continue searching and considering his topic, reaffirming it as new sources become more available. Doing digital history is so similar and yet different from traditional history because the same research and citations go into both forms, however, with digital history, we’re allowed to present our information in a new way and continue to work on it long after it’s set in print.

Timeline and Press!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

This week in class, we spent most of our time catching up with each other and discussing the importance of advertising. As a group, we composed a short two-hundred word Press Release. In the release, we discussed what our site is about, what sources one will find there, and who to thank for this project going to fruition. To take a look at it, check out Rachel Icard’s blog 🙂

Otherwise, I finally was able to get Simile Timeline on our Omeka.org site.  However, it is not as easy to use as I thought. Ihave the option to change the metadata and categorize it, however I do not know how to apply it to the website. I will be meeting with Jim Groom on Tuesday to discuss this further and figure out what our options are.