First off, everyone’s websites are really coming together, and we can’t wait to see what the finished products look like! Thanks for all of your updates last Thursday, and your input for the final overarching site that those of us here at Mary Washington are creating! We will be putting the finishing touches on the site soon, and would like your continued critiques as we complete the remaining tasks.
As for how our progress is going, we can’t really complain! We’ve been really lucky to have been able to rely on each other, and thank goodness for Jack and Leah and their knowledge regarding WordPress and programming! Often Candice and I feel like we can’t contribute that much in regards to the technical aspect, but luckily this past Thursday night after hours of fiddling with widgets we successfully created the “Voices of the Great War” widget to show up on individual pages, and were able to make them different for each page. We’ve also just been editing little things about the site, such as fonts, color schemes, and finishing up citations – that will probably consume the majority of our remaining time on the site, since we want to make sure everything is given proper credit.
For the overarching Century America site, we are still working on embedding the map into the site, and have decided to create a new page specifically for the map so that the home page isn’t as overwhelming or distracting. We are also working on editing the timeline that Leah has put together – we just need to add a few more events and the pictures, so I will be doing that and attempting the citations. We’re on the right track though, and can’t wait to show our finished site to everyone in our class, and the world!
I can’t believe we’ve come so far on our project since the beginning of the semester! This past Friday we completed all of the digitization necessary for our final website, which was a huge step. We had to go through a ton of complicated processes to both digitize and publish the images that we will be using, and some places (in particular the CRHC) were a bit difficult to work with, but understandably so since their revenue comes from both photocopying and visitors to see the actual documents. I myself did not have that much to digitize, since the photos that I am using for the Rowe family page are published and the images I took of President Russell’s Papers are from Special Collections here at UMW. Still, it is a relief to be done with that part of the project!
In other news, this upcoming Friday our milestone is to have all of the writing for our pages completed. We are each responsible for two pages of the overall project, mine being the narrative of the Rowe family of Fredericksburg and the Administration segment for the State Normal School. I am happy to say that despite many a setback from being sick and dealing with some personal things that I have completed both pages! This does not mean they are fully completed, however, since they still have to be edited by the other members of my group, but at least it is a start and I have a few days to finish necessary changes. All in all, our project is looking up, and after this week we can start putting the site together!
Even though I am a student of history, I haven’t spent much time learning about the field or how it has changed over time; in fact, this semester has been really eye-opening for me as far as learning about academia and what it means to be a scholar of history. I was fortunate enough to go to the AHA conference this January with Leah and a few others from Mary Washington, and it was great to see how much the field has progressed in recent years, and how the Digital Humanities are quickly gaining recognition. Dr. McClurken’s tweets about all things history also help me to learn more about the field! Anyhow, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to read a few articles this week about the field, and I hope it will encourage my thirst to learn more about history as an area of study and as a profession.
The first article I read, “What Does It Mean to Think Historically,” caught my attention because I didn’t really know what this meant (isn’t that the point of the article though?). I find that I tend to think historically, and look to the past to think about the future – but this article showed how historians think and how they teach about the past. The five Cs of historical thinking (change over time, causality, context, complexity, and contingency) are used to answer questions of the past and how to form arguments. I hadn’t really thought about how techniques come into play when historians approach topics, but now I understand how scholars approach subjects and why the field has been so successful in its foundations for historical inquiry.
The second article I chose, “Citizen Scholars: Facebook and the Co-Creation of Knowledge” (found within Writing History in the Digital Age), piqued my interest because we live in a world where social media reigns supreme. It makes sense that Facebook and Twitter are quickly becoming launching pads for discussions about the past – after all, don’t most of us have an account with either or both sites (and are encouraged to tweet about this class?!). There are pros and cons of working with social media to gain historical insight; it can seem like a less-than-scholarly mode of discussion, and although this might be true, it offers a plethora of opportunities in connecting with historians and those interested in history who might not otherwise be engaged. I love the idea of the “sharing” of authority amongst many people, who can then contribute to a greater narrative that might not have been realized without the aid of digital media and social networking.
All in all, after reading these articles and learning things in both this project and that of my Digital History class, even though I am a firm believer in the past and all things old-fashioned, I am thankful that this digital age has allowed us many opportunities for the expansion of knowledge and the ability to work across borders, time, and space.