Final Presentations in Digital History

My students presented their projects on the 18th despite a nasty snowstorm. The storm prevented one student from attending class, but he participated via speaker phone. Some of our guests could not make it to campus, but several intrepid community partners did. We thank them for coming to see the unveiling of the students’ semester-long local history projects.

The presentations and the projects themselves were an unqualified success. After a couple of initial instruction sections on Omeka, the students mastered this program largely without my assistance. I was delighted to see them help each other out when they ran into problems. The Lost Dunkirk group included exhibits on the history of twelve buildings, as well as a timeline using TimelineJS and a Google Earth map embed showing where each of their buildings had existed. The Sarah Sinfield group did exhibits on four periods of Sarah’s life, as well as a StoryMap of her life and travels and a Wordle using some of the letters that the men of the 72nd NY Regiment wrote in support of Sarah’s pension for her Civil War service.

After a few final corrections, the exhibits are now live. Take a look if you want to see what students can accomplish in a semester, using new technology to present local history in innovative ways:

Sarah Sinfield

Lost Dunkirk

Many thanks to the great community partners who provided most of the research materials for these projects, including Michelle Henry and Jo Ann Kaufman, who did the research into Sarah Sinfield; Diane Andrasik, Denise Griggs, and the other helpful volunteers at the Dunkirk History Museum; and my neighbor David Briska, who gave the Sarah Sinfield students his fantastic tour of the Dunkirk Lighthouse. The lighthouse connects both projects, as the original building was one included in the Lost Dunkirk site and Sarah Sinfield’s husband William was the assistant lighthouse keeper after the Civil War. Check it out if you are ever in Dunkirk; it’s worth a visit!

My hope is to have students in other courses and interns add to these projects, particularly the Lost Dunkirk. I think that the students this semester made a good start. Much of that is thanks to the terrific Doing Digital History summer institute sponsored by NEH and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Thanks for the millionth time to Sharon Leon and Sheila Brennan for their direction of this institute, and to Jeff McClurken of U Mary Washington for his great session on teaching  DH. This would literally have been a far different (and lesser) course without what I learned at this institute. If you have an interest in digital history, I highly recommend applying for this institute, should it be offered again.

Happy New Year to all!

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