Final Reflections: To the Students of Digital History

I wanted to say how proud I am of all the students in this course. You accomplished a great deal last semester using the various tools we learned to develop creative and informative websites on your topics. I think what impressed me the most was that you learned to be problem solvers. Rather than run to me with every little problem you encountered with the software or the research, you figured it out on your own, using the manuals and other sources available to you. That in itself is a great skill to learn. But you did a lot more. You took the historical sources and research you were provided (by Michelle Henry and the Dunkirk Historical Society), did additional research to fill in gaps, and decided as groups how to construct your websites. I loved the timelines you did, as well as your exhibits. I am truly impressed by the sites you produced in the short time you had. To go from digital neophytes to creating sophisticated web sites in one semester is an accomplishment you should be very proud of.

Your projects have already received a lot of positive feedback from professors, community partners, and local people. I am happy that some of you have agreed to present your work at various venues such as the SUNY Conference, the Phi Alpha Theta New York Regional Conference, and  OSCAR on the Fredonia campus.  I invite the world to look at what you have accomplished:

Sarah Sinfield Project

Lost Dunkirk Project

Prof. Litwicki

Final Reflections

After a semester of Digital History it is time to reflect. A class that I was relatively nervous about at first but extremely curious, I am overall pleased with the development of the class and our final project. The course taught me several tools that assisted me in completing the project. Although I enjoyed the course there are definitely some revisions to the overall course that could have made it much more effective.

The Contract created by Lost Dunkirk was fairly simple. We divided our work accordingly based on buildings we choose. Our contract also included a timeline that everyone stuck to well. The division of labor allowed us to focus on our own aspect of the project and the weekly group meetings kept our site cohesive and uniform. Although I am happy with with our project there were some rough points along the way. For example, our timeline software put us through a loop during the last two weeks before the presentation constantly deleting things. Eventually we began to understand how to better use the Timeline JS software and it proved to be a cool overview for the site.

The first half of the course consisted of us discussing what digital history and the humanities are. We also worked with software that our group would later implement into our website. Although we didn’t use all of the software we learned about I felt it was extremely valuable to learn about these different types of tools. For example, I ended up creating a different WordPress website in order to do a group project for a different class. Some tools we learned about were pretty fun such as Wordle and Text mining software. We found Timeline JS useful after we were able to master it but there was other software that our class experimented with that also seemed to have a lot of utility. The mapping software introduced to us by Nick Gunner would be a really cool project for another class to use. I thought that the Sarah Sinfield group did a good job of using Story Map in order to tell the story of Sarah’s life in an entertaining way. Of course the most important thing that we were taught in the course prior to our projects taking the forefront was the Omeka software. Although we didn’t spend a lot of time on it, I found it fairly easy to use withing a half hour of using it. When our group made the change from Drupal to Omeka I was relieved due to familiarity.

I think there are a few changes that could be made to this course to improve it as a whole. I did not mind working in a large group but I think for the sake of efficiency and communication that the group might be capped at perhaps four members. Sometimes I felt like we had trouble working to our fullest potential due to our group size. One other change that I think would help this course would be to perhaps spend a week or two at the start of the semester going over more of the mechanical stuff. Maybe a brief overview of html coding would be helpful so students understand what goes into creating an image or something like a timeline.

Source: Nesbitt, Final Reflections


I’m sorry for the lateness in adding your final blog posts & reflections. My plug-in for your blogs decided to stop working yesterday for an unknown reason, so I’ve had to copy and paste it all manually. I believe the posts are all here now. Ah, technology–sometimes there are just glitches. Happy holidays to all and thanks for making this a great class!

Dr. Litwicki

Lost Dunkirk Reflection

For the Lost Dunkirk group I think we executed it quite well. As a group we collaborated nicely and were able to show what we intended with our website as well as what we researched. Some problems I faced were researching. The Dunkirk Historical Society had a lot of information on the Lighthouse yet, they did not have much on the Merchants National Bank. For more information on that Paul referred me to the government website for financial services. Some problems we faced were with getting everything up and looking nicely on the website. Such as making it all look like a cohesively flowing website and having the exhibits look similar. A big nuisance for me was the timeline, for a while my information from the google doc, wasn’t transferring to the embedded timeline on the website. What it turned out being was that if you skipped a line in the document it would not read anything below that line and we were able to overcome that obstacle. I felt that the classes and library time leading up to us breaking up into groups definitely helped me with understanding most of the tools we used. Especially Omeka, I did not feel like Omeka was hard to use after having extensively looked at it in class as well as with Scott at the library learning about Dublin Core. Looking at all the possible ways we could have gone with this project throughout the course of the semester was really interesting. I learned a lot from this semester about the different tools that can be used while making your website or even to do research on.

Chris Malone

Final Post

This will be the final post of History 396. It was a very interesting semester, to say the least. I was not sure what to expect out of the class. But overall, I was not disappointed. We learned a lot of fascinating material, and how to use fun websites like Omeka, and Map JS. My favorite tools for that I had learned this year was from the day that we learned about Wordle, and the New York Times Chronicle. I didn’t know websites like these existed, and it really is a great way to find information about history, and what was being talked about during specific time periods. Although, it is accurate to say that we kind of went off-track with what we searched on the NY Times website. I am not sure how I would build upon this course. Digitizing History is a very interesting course. However, with the way technology is, changing everyday, I believe it would be difficult to stick to one specific formula to teach Digital History on.

Overall I thought the project went very well. I believe that our group had a very good chemistry, and there weren’t many outstanding issues that we had encountered. I believe the toughest part of the project was filling out the Dublin Core on Omeka. We also ran into some issues with the timeline because our information would not show up on Omeka after typing it up. But I can personally say on my part, that the research aspect, and the creation of the website was pretty forward, and simple. I would have liked to get more pictures on the inside of the Safe Store. Most of the pictures were of its employees, which was ok, but I wish there were more pictures of the actual building. Koch’s Brewery was not as difficult to find. Pictures from the Historical Society were in abundance, which made things fairly easy. I was very happy with the amount of information available about both buildings that I did my research on.

I thought we were well prepared by the course to complete the project. Our main piece of the project was the Omeka website, which I believed we all learned to use quite well. Without learning how to use Omeka during the semester, this project would have been a lot more difficult for everyone involved. I think the fact that our group had Paul, a resident of the Dunkirk Community, made things a lot easier to handle. If at any point I felt nervous about the information, or pictures I had gathered, it was a reassuring to know that Paul was there, and knew so much about his home town, to really help weed out the important, and non-important information.

I thought we were able to complete the aspects of our contract. We all were able to do our work in a timely matter, and I think everything was done very well. We all had very good information, and fascinating pictures of our buildings. I also think the layout of our website was done very well. I thought the website was easy to navigate, and gave a lot of information that anyone interested in Lost Dunkirk would find to be helpful. I also believed that we were able to create the website in a way that the historians in the future, can build upon. There are many buildings that have been long gone in Dunkirk, and I hope the future students build upon it.

I had a lot of fun this semester, and I am glad I got to work with the colleagues I was assigned with. I thought this class was very informative, and exciting.

Vincent Randazzo

Final Blog Post

Me and my group were able to fulfill our contract very timely and orderly. Aside from the constant barrage of delays that took place in the Omeka site we all managed well. We each worked on our own separate projects and did all that was in our power to prepare. I however was unable to attend the museum because my semester schedule at no time coincided when I was able to get there. On top of that I don’t have a car or any other form of transportation at my disposal. With that in mind I attempted to make up for that by researching as often and frequently as was possible. It included but was not limited to the Western New York Heritage Press, the Dunkirk Historical Society and Wendy’s Website. Overall, I was aware of what to expect as well as prepared for the final project. I gave any and every chance I had to do research on my subjects as well as avidly learning the software. It took sometime but I eventually managed. However, I believe that the tripping point for most of us was the complexity of Omeka itself. Its constant updates proved to be headaches of numerous occasion and we had to either wait or fix glitches on the spot. This especially came to rear its ugly head right before presentation day. In addition the methods of uploading images, creating themes, and the like seemed almost runaround to say the very least. So despite all the project coming out with a fine reception the Omeka site was a very constant source of frustration. However, we overall felt prepared for the project and the expectations at the end of the day. What helped me complete the project from the course was the description of the various sites that were displayed from sites like the Civil War database and the Lost Harlem among others. If I had to suggest what I needed more training on it would be how to arrange the lists that ultimately become my resources. Towards the end of it all we were all rushed to put the last few sources in. It might have helped to have a limit on what we could have taken in at once. Granted our results paid off with what we had. Needless to say there are a few suggestions that could be very effective (of course this is all depending on what is possible and what if anything changes at all). First, it would help if we had a set of specific criteria that would help us correspond to what both the society and the instructor would possible want. In this way we both would be on a fair stance when we are researching, contacting, and the like. We also found it hard to not base the workload on one person and one person alone. One in particular knew his way around and was exceedingly versed in pursuing similar avenues. However, at the end of the day we all felt frustrated and sorry that even though we are all doing equal work we were left with what appeared to be him doing all of it. Looks were deceiving and in this case we were almost taken aback by this on numerous occaions. To compensate, I might suggest a system of giving each person a separate task based on their comfort of tech skills as well as basic experience. A simpler program other than Omeka might also help. All aside the class was very interesting and helpful.

Finally, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all

Source: Bill Mohan, moha1291 A Collegiate Digital Experience | Author: t5t9s2b

Final Post!

This course was an invaluable tool. Some college courses leave students saying, when will I ever need this information? This course was not one of those courses. I have already began the process of applying for jobs and many of the job I have looked into requested the applicant have experience with tools that we have learned throughout the course. I already have a million ideas for more websites I could make.

Sarah Sinfield was a fantastic woman who deserved recognition and I am so glad to have had the chance to work on this project. My group was amazing. We all collaborated and worked really well together, and everyone was equally excited to participate in sharing Sarah’s story with the web.

The largest obstacle our group faced was probably dividing up the parts of the project, we were not quite sure how to ensure the work weight was fair and would lead to the best end result. Overall I like how we spread out the work and I think we were able to stay pretty true to our contract. The hardest part was actually getting started. We talked about the project and the plans for longer than necessary, but it lead to a more stable plan.

The tools we learned throughout the course made our website more interesting and interactive than it would have been without them. The timeline and the world make the site look more professional and fun.

The hardest part was trying to deal with the more technical side of Omeka when things started to turn more towards coding. Eventually we figured everything out though and I think the site looks amazing!

Overall I am very pleased with how the course turned out and I am thankful I had this opportunity!

VanZile, Blogging Digital Humanites


Progress on the Sinfield site is going well! We presented on Thursday to a small audience and it felt really great. We had a lot to talk about on the subject of Sarah and her life, but also on the website. The site had a few hiccups but by Thursday it should be in much better shape! I personally have to fix the banner and some spelling mistakes. I will try and help with some other things too. I am debating whether to just take the name out of the banner and use a logo I created for the site (the image in this blog post). I may even have decide to just leave a plain flag without the words to prevent the doubling of her name (because the site already includes the name in the theme and I can’t get rid of it). I plan to play around with it some more before the final day to work on things!

Kailee VanZile

Last Week & presentation

The group met at our usual meeting time last Tuesday. We talked about what we needed to finish, looked at everyone’s work, and how we feel about the project. Everything has come together so well! Presenting the project was so interesting! It was nice to see how excited Ms. Kaufman and Ms. Henry were! We still have some minor touches to fix to the site but, it’s looking good!

Emily Zane

Final Blog Post

for neophytes in Digital History