Update on Fredericksburg/UMW: Resources and Website Outline


Today Jack, Leah, Candice, and I met up and discussed the primary resources that we have already collected, assessed the gaps in our research that we needed to fill with more sources, and began to think about how we wanted our final site to be set up. The first two goals regarding sources were pretty easy to complete since we knew what sources we had access to and what more we would like to find; the difficult part emerged when we started discussing the potential layout and design of our website.

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As someone who isn’t very familiar with website tools and is just now becoming familiar with the benefits and negatives of working with both WordPress and Omeka, I had no idea where to begin other than that I thought the website should be easy to navigate so that the visitors wouldn’t get overwhelmed and discouraged when exploring the content. In order to figure out how to divide our sources and informations, like all OCD kids we color-coded our site using post-it notes. Yes, we did lay out these post-its across the chalkboard in the library study room and by the end of it I’m sure it looked more like a football game plan than the outline of a website (but they’re really not all that different in purpose now, are they?). By categorizing and color-coding the information, we were able to distinguish the hierarchy of the site and establish that we would divide the majority of the information we have collected through that on the State Normal School and the greater Fredericksburg community itself. Within each of these menu pages, we would provide links to several main narratives and documents via pictures so that the visitors could easily choose what area they would like to explore in detail without the site becoming too overwhelming. It’s hard to describe since we don’t actually have an image to show of what our proposed site will look like, but here is the “blueprint” or “game plan”, so to speak:

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The page about the State Normal School would contain four main links: Administration, Academics, Student Life, and Influenza. Within this section, the sources we currently have are President Russell’s papers, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and school catalogs and bulletins. These sources would be categorized under the appropriate sections within the State Normal School page, and we would include images and timelines as appropriate.

The page for the Fredericksburg community would also contain four main links: the Eastburn War Diaries, the Knox Family, the Rowe Family, and Influenza. For the community, the current sources we have correspond to the families whose narratives we will be exploring; we will reference the Eastburn Diaries, letters from the Knox family, and letters from the Rowe family. We will also be using articles and information from The Daily Star. Again, timelines would probably be used to show what was happening within the individual narratives.

On the main home page, we have discussed creating a map of important locations on campus and in the community to give viewers an idea of what the area looked like between 1914 and 1918; hopefully we can use GIS software and export the map as an image (since most of us in the group were not fans of Google Maps). We have also discussed perhaps having a timeline of national events, or one with three different colors corresponding to national, Fredericksburg, and State Normal School events. As for the actual website, right now we are considering using Omeka rather than WordPress since it allows for many more interactive features.

All in all, we are quite excited to be starting to conceptualize our site – here’s hoping the journey won’t be paralyzing from here on out!

Home is where the Navy sends you: Exploring Maps and Timelines


Last Tuesday, we learned how to create maps and timelines, both of which would be useful for our websites. In particular, the creation of the maps interested me since I do GIS, but the process and end result was quite different between Google Maps and ArcMap (the ESRI GIS software that we use here at Mary Wash). The timeline option looked fascinating, since information and pictures could be added to the feature making it both informative and visually appealing.

I would be lying if I said creating the map was really fun or interesting. After spending the past three years working with GIS software and creating maps with multiple sets of data, the oversimplified Google Map just annoyed me. I felt so limited, and thought that my map wasn’t showcasing everything that it could potentially display. I guess for its easy and accessible interface the map served its purpose and can be used to visually aid an argument or a website. I definitely think our group will include a map (of campus and the Fredericksburg community) but if I have any say in the matter I would gladly prefer a more intricate and appealing map created through the GIS software I use rather than Google Maps.


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Fortunately, I was much more pleased with the process and the outcome of the timeline. Not only was it simple to use and easy to add media and credits to, but the result was a clean timeline with all of the necessary information. The user could put as little or as much information as he or she desired, but for me the purpose of the timeline was to show location, date, and an image. Again, I think our group will definitely be using a timeline, or several (so it doesn’t become too overwhelming), to assist in informing our audience of events occurring on the home front during WWI. We also might contribute to an overall Century America timeline showing events happening nationally and locally at our school’s campuses. Overall, both the map (preferably ArcMap based) and the timeline will greatly assist in our online archive and exhibit.