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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

Civil War Letters Introduction Video

In the early stages of our project we will be focusing on digitizing all of the letters. We will be spending a lot of time in the Digital Archiving Lab scanning the letters. In our introduction video, we show a bit of the process that we go through to scan the letters.

While videos are a good way to engage viewers, my group has decided that a video would not work well with the content that we are working with. I would like to experiment on my own with filming and video editing, however. It is a useful skill in many different fields. It would even be useful for my current job at Simpson Library where I work with marketing and outreach.

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

StoryMapJS

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

TimelineJS

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

Reviewing Digital History Projects

One of the main things I noticed in my review of different digital history projects was that it is important to include just the right amount of information and context. Sites can have either too much information or too little. The Emilie Davis Diaries project, https://davisdiaries.villanova.edu/, is an example of the latter. It featured a collection of chronologically organized transcriptions and high-resolution scans of the pages from Emilie Davis’s diaries. There was not much contextual information or ways of searching through the diary entries on the site. Including context would have given the reader a better sense of the era in which Davis was writing her diary entries.

The Valley of the Shadow project, http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/, had the opposite issue. The site featured so much information and so many documents that it was difficult to synthesize all of it into one cohesive story, or even a set of stories. The large amount of information combined with awkward navigation made for a site that was somewhat difficult to use for the average browser.

Because my group wants to make the information included in our project accessible, easy to use, and useful for the general public, we will have to be aware of the amount of information we put onto our site. Too little information will be little help to people trying to conduct research. Too much information will have casual browsers swimming in irrelevant facts and figures.

Another site that I looked at was the Eugenic Rubicon project, https://scalar.usc.edu/works/eugenic-rubicon-/index. It featured documents and stories from people who had been sterilized due to eugenics laws. There were guided paths that the reader could take through the site that presented related information. There were multiple of these paths, and they were not necessarily chronological. These guided paths worked well for the type of documents and information that the site housed, but I do not think that this strategy would work well with the documents that my group has to work with. The Civil War letters will be organized chronologically, so there will only be one logical path to take through them. Using any other method of progression might conflict with the chronological narrative that we hope to develop.

The last digital history project I looked at was the Virtual Angkor project, https://www.virtualangkor.com/. One of the main features of the site were its simulations, some interactive, of the city of Angkor Wat. Its 360 simulations allowed users to view a panorama of certain parts of the city. While these simulations were remarkable, they required very advanced technological skills to build. Not only would including simulations such as these be unrealistic, but it might not complement the sources we have. Our focus will likely be on the content of the letters, as well as a their chronology and place of origin. These aspects do not have a use for simulations such as the ones featured on the Virtual Angkor project site.

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

Omeka review

The first Omeka site that I looked at was the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project, http://www.americanantiquarian.org/thomasballads/. It features a collection of ballads from the collection of Isaiah Thomas. Each page includes a transcription and a high-resolution image of the original document. This particular site caught my attention because we will be doing a similar project in my group with the Civil War letters. We will be scanning in documents and putting them into a website. The website will also include other contextual information, similar to how this example does. Another interesting aspect of this website was that it included recordings of some of the ballads. Forms of media such as this show how important digital history is to the broader field of history. Digitizing historic resources allows them to be interpreted using technologies that enhance our understanding of the times they represent.

The other Omeka site that I looked at was A Shoebox of Norwegian Letters, http://huginn.net/shoebox/, an online archive of letters to and from members of the Holm family. Each letter is transcribed, both in the original Norwegian and translated English. Interesting about this site is how the viewer can search for a letter using multiple different tools including tags, author, and place of origin. My group may employ this technique when digitizing the Civil War letters. Allowing people to search for specific attributes can cut down the time it takes to find useful and relevant sources, making it another advantage of digital history.

Both sites were very well designed and easy to navigate. Overall, Omeka is a useful tool that makes it easy to create functional and well-designed websites. I expect that it will be helpful in creating websites for other projects, especially in the field of Museum Studies. It will provide a foundation for my group to build our final project on. I look forward to learning more about it and how to use it.

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

Week 1

I chose to take Adventures in Digital History this semester because I needed to take a class that would count toward my Museum Studies minor and this one looked the most interesting. I am not familiar with many digital tools and I would like to learn how to use more of them. I hope to be able to use the skills I learn in this class to complete projects later in college and in my career.

Digital History is the use of technology to advance the study of history. The progression of technology has brought change to every facet of human life and society, including how people share and learn information. Digital Humanities refers to a broad range of disciplines that use technology to present information. Each discipline favors some digital tools over others and makes unique contributions to the domain of digital humanities. Digital History is one of these specialized disciplines, and favors digital mapping while contributing to the education of students and the greater public.

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

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