Final Reflection

The website that Kana and I created went far beyond what I envisioned. I am so proud of the work Kana and I have done and feel that we truly did our best to produce an accurate, comprehensive look into Sarasota during the Great War. We managed to get to this point by sticking fairly closely to our project contract and original division of labor.

A key component of our contract was keeping the site attractive and accessible. Kana and I agree that the theme and other aesthetic elements of the website came out well. But, in order to achieve this, we did end up using a different theme than the one we originally planned to use in the contract. Besides solely visual elements, we feel that we managed to find a good balance between images and text. Most importantly, it is our opinion that we were able to write with historical integrity without sounding too academic. Thus far, these views have been supported by members of the Sarasota community who have seen the website. Our parents, friends, peers, and random members of the area have all be able to enjoy the content. Last week I called a local video store for an entirely different project and when I told the owner my name, he commented that he is a member of the Historical Society of Sarasota County and saw my website in an email sent out to Society members. A Sarasota native, he said he loved the site and showed it to all his friends.

Regarding the layout of content, there were a few deviations from the contract. Under the War Effort section, we added a subheading on “Enlisting” and removed a tab labeled “Women in the War Effort.” This change was due to a lack of information regarding a woman’s naval militia that was mentioned briefly in a single source. Instead, the role of women in the war effort was touched upon in all relevant sections and more specifically in the tab, “Woman’s Club,” under “Social Life on the Homefront.” We also removed an intended subheading on railroads under the “Wartime Economic Development” tab. This was mostly due to a lack of time; when it came down to adding the section, there was already a good amount of content under “Wartime Economic Development” and little time left to add more. The last main deviation was moving the section on disease, originally placed under “Social Life on the Homefront,” to its own tab called “Influenza.” A positive addition that was not on the contract was creating an individual page for Harriet Burns Stieff, providing a page where visitors could see all video clips of her in one place and read a bit about her and her involvement in the project.

Our division of labor turned out almost exactly how we planned in the contract. As stated previously, the section on the woman’s naval militia did not come to fruition, and thus Kana did not get a chance to write about that. Besides that, we both read over and helped edit each others’ sections. Occasionally when doing archival research we individually came across sources that were relevant to parts the other person was writing about. As such, we did not maintain a clear division of labor in the sense that nothing was done without some form of collaboration. But, generally, we stuck to our assigned tasks.

Again, we are incredibly proud of our site and grateful for the experience we have had in this class. I think I can speak for Kana as well when I say that we both learned skills that will benefit our academic careers and beyond.

The videos are coming

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, but after wrapping up the website, I’ve been dedicating my Century America related time to looking at other groups’ work! I’ve been so, so impressed but the other websites. With that said, I am also extremely proud of what Kana and I put together. Aaaaaand, it’s still getting better! After some unfortunate technical problems, Kana got a new computer and is working on making the videos from our interview with Harriet. So far we have two up with a few more to go, and I’m blown away by what Kana has done with them. Kana did a fantastic job editing the clips together and overlaying the talk with relevant images.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing some of the groups present their work, but I really can’t wait for me and Kana to present on Friday.

Starting to create our website!

Over the past two days I’ve slowly started adding content to our official website. It’s still in the rough and early stages, but it’s incredibly exciting getting to add pages, images, and some text. Plus, now that the site isn’t blank, making it feels like a much less daunting task.

Kana is in charge of aesthetics but I’m having fun messing around with backgrounds and colors. Maybe I’ll stumble upon something pretty!

Just gotta keep going.

 

“Impact of Digital History on Historians and on the Practice of History” Articles

The first article I chose to read was “Wikipedia and Women’s History: A Classroom Experience (2012 revision)” by Martha Saxton. I went into the article expecting Saxton to cite a lack of articles on women’s history; the field is still in its beginning stages of overcoming the “great man” narrative. But I was still shocked by just how extreme the lack was, and remains to be.

This shock, however, didn’t compare to what I felt while Saxton described the resistance students felt when trying to rectify Wikipedia’s male-dominated narratives. As Wikipedia continues to plead its allegiance to accurate, real information, how could its editors justify leaving out the contributions of an entire group of people? One example Saxton used mentioned an editor not wanting to include the role of women in the history of eugenics, as it revealed a relationship with the “dark pseudoscience.” The popularity of eugenics is a shameful chapter in the world’s history. Its narrative is male dominated as the sciences were, and still are. But ignoring the reality that some eugenicists were females does no service to the gender. Only painting women as victims doesn’t help either.

As the role of females throughout history is significant and often overlooked, I do recognize the importance of separating some articles on women’s history. But that does not excuse leaving facts out of a comprehensive narrative where they belong.

After reading an article on a specific part of Wikipedia, I chose to next read a more macro overview of the encyclopedia’s relevancy to the discipline. For this, I chose Christopher Miller’s “Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki(pedia).”

Miller’s piece is based around getting his students to analyze the merits of Wikipedia as a case study of the creation of history. His description of the birth and death of his plan is engaging, but hindered by age.

One of the main issues with Miller’s lesson plan was that, in 2006, few of his students even knew about Wikipedia. In 2015, this sounds unbelievable. While Miller also pointed out that many of his first year students couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of history extending beyond facts, I think that the biggest problem was this initial lack of context for the assignment. Today, with most college students acutely aware of Wikipedia’s existence and how it functions, Miller’s class would run quite differently. Still, Miller’s piece had one key point of relevance: a critique of encyclopedias.

Prior to reading this, I had never thought about why I don’t use encyclopedias as sources in my academic writing. I have never been told not to use one, I’ve just never tried; consistently I’ve had enough additional primary and secondary sources available to avoid turning to encyclopedias. Now that I think about it, I understand why, as a researcher, using an encyclopedia is a bit lazy. I wasn’t aware of the fact that encyclopedias as a whole, not just Wikipedia, have a reputation for inaccuracy. I would think that a crowd-sourced encyclopedia would be more accurate. But as evidenced by the previous article, that isn’t necessarily the case. To what extent can crowds neutralize the prejudices, biases, and opinions that everyone has? Does this make Wikipedia potentially more accurate or just more contentious? This is something that I’ll think about more.

 

 

Bummer

On Saturday, Kana and I were supposed to meet with Harriet to finish our interview, as well as make scans of her photographs and a diary she has–it was kept by a young socialite in Sarasota during the 1910s. Unfortunately, Harriet had to reschedule until Thursday.

This is fine, but Kana will need a good deal of time to edit our film footage. I have continued organizing the various images of newspaper articles taken at the Sarasota History Center, but we really are counting on Harriet’s sources, especially the diary, to move forward.

Plus, today I woke up quite ill. I’m hoping that I’ll be better in time for Thursday, but if not, Kana will be able to meet with Harriet herself.

 

oh well, gotta keep moving!

Project Contract

Mission Statement:

 Our goal is to showcase the Sarasota community’s experiences during WWI and the Spanish Influenza. While we plan to touch upon both of these events specifically, we want to dedicate a lot of our site to broader experiences of the community during the time period. What happened in Sarasota during the Great War, and how relevant (or irrelevant) to these changes was what was happening in the international community?

Thus far we have been unable to find anything related to Sarasota during the Spanish Influenza. We have read that, historically, Florida has been a haven for those avoiding disease. In our research we have come across some references to malaria. If we find more related to that, perhaps we will include it.

Besides the information itself, a large goal of our project is to present this information in an accurate, comprehensible manner through a digital medium. We plan to maintain historical integrity while also making the site accessible to non-academics. We will use images and avoid large blocks of text, along with an appropriate theme, to make the site attractive.

The intended audience of our website are students (who are particularly interested in Sarasota history or want to look at the site as an example of a digital history project) and the those who live here.

Layout:

The homepage will introduce our project with an “About” page and will display the Century America logo. The sections will be displayed at the top of the site.

These sections include:

1. The urbanization/developments of Sarasota

-Focused on information found in the Sarasota-Times along with photographs.

-Subheading including timeline

-Subheading on the role of agriculture in Sarasota

-The Oral History from Harriet Burns

-Ideally this will come with a transcription.

2. The military experience in Sarasota

-Subheading on the naval militia

-Will include discussion of the city’s role in national war efforts

-Liberty Bonds

-Red Cross service

-Display of WWI service cards from the Florida Memory site

3. Social experiences

-Transcriptions, and possible scans, of the diary kept by a young woman who lived in Sarasota during the 1910s.

-The Women’s Club

-Possible commentary related to the Women’s Club’s role in the war effort.

4. Bibliography

5. About the researchers section

Tools:

For our site, we plan on using the Hemingway Rewritten theme. The layout is simple and easy to navigate. It neatly displays the different sections at the top of the page.

Because much of our story involves the development of Sarasota, a TimelineJS will be included. This timeline will chronicle the growth of the city during the 1910s. For example, when a new road was approved and when it was built.

Final Cut Pro will be used for editing the oral history component of the site.

Timeline:

Feb. 26: Return to the Sarasota History Center to finish taking pictures of relevant articles of the Sarasota-Times.

Feb. 28: Meet with Harriet again. Scan her photographs and copies of the diary of a young woman who lived in Sarasota during the 1910s.

March 6: Set up theme, create skeleton structure of site, start writing up some of the sections

March 15-18: Have video completed along with the transcription

Apr. 2: First version due

Apr. 22: Revised version due

Distribution of Labor:

Joy: I will make the timeline about the urbanization of the city. In order to do this, I will read all relevant articles in the Sarasota-Times. From this I will get relevant dates. I will also use the information found in these articles to describe what went into building up Sarasota.

I will similarly read the newspapers for relevant information about the narrative surrounding Sarasota’s military involvement in WWI, particularly its naval militia.

Kana: I will work on the layout of the website and edit the video. I will also focus on the women’s club and agriculture section of the site. The sources I will be using include guidebooks, newspaper articles, and secondary readings on Sarasota history.

 

Starting the Oral History Process

Yesterday Kana and I went to Harriet Burns’ apartment to film an oral history interview. She was extremely kind but had not gone through the photographs she planned to show us. We thus spent most of our time with her going through boxes and photo albums.

We found a pair of binoculars that her father had donated to the navy during WWI. She also had many photographs from Sarasota during the era. Most excitingly, we found scans of a diary kept by a young woman who lived in Sarasota from 1915-1919.

Kana and I filmed an interview with Harriet, but most of what she told us was about the 1920s, not the 1910s. We are planning on returning with a portable scanner to make scans of photographs and the diary. At that meaning we will try filming Harriet again explaining specific, relevant materials.

Website Outline

Thus far, here is our plan for our website:

A home page explaining the project and its mission.

Then pages on:

Sarasota’s WWI military history

Sarasota’s development during the 1910s

-Page on the Women’s Club and its role in the city’s development.
-Page on farming/agriculture in Sarasota.
-Oral History of Harriet Burns, daughter of Owen Burns, the main developer in Sarasota during the 1910s and 1920s.
-Timeline of the city’s growth with images of buildings

Influenza in Sarasota

Our main sources so far are the Sarasota-Times newspapers, photographs, and brochures made by the city.

Exciting News

Today Kana and I returned to the Sarasota History Center to continue scanning newspapers. In addition to this, we took pictures of guides to Sarasota made by the city in 1914 and 1915. Jeff LaHurd, the main archivist, was there and explained to us proper copyright procedure for using materials from the city’s archives.

On our way home, we arranged a meeting with Harriet Burns. Harriet is the daughter of Owen Burns, who is considered by many to be the founder of modern Sarasota. Most of the development that took place in the city during the 1910s and 20s was funded by Burns. Harriet agreed to meet with us on Saturday to tell us about her family’s history in connection to Sarasota. She also says she has many photographs she’s willing to share with us. Kana spent last semester completing a tutorial on oral histories. With Harriet’s permission, Kana is going to film the meeting and create an oral history page on our website.

Making a Timeline in Google Drive

I decided to make a timeline instead of a map. The timeline feature seemed a bit easier to use and also more likely to be relevant to the website Kana and I are making. Though WWI was an international event, in terms of how it related to Sarasota, only a small amount of land mass is covered. I anticipate the timeline feature having its own page on our site. I would like to make one documenting the growth and development experienced in Sarasota during the late 1910s.

I chose to chronicle all of the concerts I went to in 2014. I go to a lot of shows, but this past year I went to more than usual. At most of them I took pictures with my phone that I incorporated into my timeline. The process was quite simple and enjoyable. I go with the same people to most concerts and they got a kick out of seeing the finished project.

Check out my timeline here

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