Update from UMW: Week 6

After a long process of trying to divvy up the work for this project evenly amongst the four of us, we have finally finalized the work load and prepared a schedule for ourselves which we will use to keep us on track and provide the basis for the group contracts that are due next Thursday.  As of now, in the grand scheme of things we know what we want our final website to look like and have decided on a layout of the material – we just haven’t quite selected the WordPress theme that we would like to use.  We also need to choose a theme for the overall Century America website since we will also be responsible for putting together that home page, along with a map and timeline that will live on the site to show how all of the participating schools correlate with one another.

This week, we also did a lot of problem-solving with Dr. McClurken to try to figure out what we have to do before we can get started on the building of our site.  We are trying to meet up with some of the wonderful people at DTLT here at Mary Washington to figure out if there is a free map software that we can use for the Century America site – Candice and I will probably also talk to the head of our GIS department here (since we are both familiar with making maps digitally) to see if there is a way to create an interactive map without all viewers owning the appropriate software.  We are also trying to figure out a way to create overlapping timelines with local events from each of the schools as well as national events so that we can see the correlation across the US.

On Monday, we met to discuss the concerns that Dr. McClurken had regarding maps and timelines, but also our alternatives if the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center does not let us digitize the images that we would like to reproduce.  The CRHC has an incredible array of sources that have been useful to us so far in our research, but unfortunately they are pretty strict about their policies and so we are trying to figure out a) how to convince them to let us digitize the material since our work isn’t going towards a profit and b) what we will do if they do not let us digitize the material.  We have emailed the CRHC, and Dr. McClurken has been in contact with a representative of the NPS who has in turn contacted someone on the board the CRHC.  Hopefully this contact will yield favorable results so that we can use what we have found, especially since not much of our total images and sources come from the center.  If we are unable to use any of the materials from the CRHC, we will be “uncomfortable but not paralyzed” as Dr. McClurken would say.  Although we would definitely be bummed out, we would still be able to use the information that we gathered from the Eastburn Diaries to put together a timeline, and if we cannot use any pictures of the Knox family then we will just go downtown and take a picture of the family house that is currently the Kenmore Inn.  So even though the results might not be what we most desire, we will still be successful in accomplishing our goals!

All in all, this week wasn’t so much about research as it was planning, organizing, and problem-solving.  Our group will reconvene this upcoming Tuesday after we do some individual work so that we can decide what we want to do for both our site and the Century America website.  Here’s to a productive week ahead!

Designating Roles: Leading, Supporting, and Advertising

This past week, the four of us at Mary Washington got together to try and divvy up the responsibilities for the site, both for our own project and for the creation of the overall site for this Century America project.  It was an interesting process just because I have never worked on a group endeavor in such extensive terms before, and planning a website is a lot different than simply proposing a paper!  I think we did a decent job of trying to assess what each of our roles within the project are going to be, and how we will work together to create an overarching site that everyone involved will be proud of.

For my part, I will be collecting and publishing the narrative about Josiah P. Rowe (which will be found in the Fredericksburg section of the site) and compiling the information from President Russell’s papers into a section on Administration at the State Normal School (to be found in the SNS section of the site).  This will entail digitizing whatever sources that I think will best contribute to these narratives, as well as writing about what we’ve discovered and what the two sections that I am in charge of will entail.  With Leah, I will also be responsible for creating the page for the State Normal School, from which the viewer will be able to see the different sections about the school during that time.

Lastly, Candice and I will be making a map using Maps Alive in order to show which states have schools participating in the Century America project that is sponsored by COPLAC and the Teagle Foundation.  This map will live on the site home page for the entire Century America project and will hopefully be able to engage the reader and excite them about the diversity of the project.  I might just be a little bitter (just a bit) that we won’t be using GIS and this software isn’t spatial, but I know that for the purpose of this project this will be much easier and user-friendly than trying to incorporate elements from ArcMap.

As for advertising, we have considered going to the Bullet to get an article published on the school website either for our ADH class or the Century America project, which would then hopefully provide links to each of the participating websites so that we can get viewers from there.  On a more realistic scale, we will try to reach out to those students already at our school, and proceed by word of mouth and via social media to get our friends and their acquaintances to view our website.  Because the project is about our school, it should be interesting to those of us who attend the university to see what life was like here during the Great War.  Alumni would also be a potential audience since again they are invested in the university and are likely interested in its history.  Finally, another outlet that would be useful in cultivating an audience would be those who participate in reenacting – these individuals are already interested in military history and would most likely be interested in what was happening on the home front of this war as well.

All in all, I think our group is making headway and great progress!  Jack, Candice, Leah, and I can’t wait for what the semester holds for us in this project.  Now to see what bumps we might encounter along the way…