For my project I created a WordPress blog called Our Lincoln Scrapbook. I’ve always loved the idea of scrapbooks as a place to hold stories and memories, and as a public historians, they could be a treasure, an untapped resource for trying to uncover how people in the past thought and felt. The idea was to create a living “digital archive.” A digital scrapbook for people to post pictures, videos, reflections, questions, and stories of experiences.
Why Abraham Lincoln? 150 years later, he is still one of the most popular people in our culture and history. His principles are timeless and while he was far from perfect, he inspires people to overcome their personal flaws in striving towards their goals. Each week, I post an interesting question, topic, program, site, museum, or experience related to President Lincoln and the Civil War. While keeping people interested in the commemorative events going on throughout the area, it can be a place for everyone’s memories. When people visit museums, battlefields or historic sites, often they are not invited to share their experiences or stories. Here, this scrapbook provides a place to hold all of that material.
Why save people’s stories and photographs? As a public historian, I am constantly looking for ways of putting me in the past. What sources can I utilize to bring the opinions and thoughts of people in the past to our knowledge. This scrapbook would provide a wealth of information for future research and fun. Of course, such a project would in no way be possible without digital tools. The depth and reach of a digital tool, like WordPress, allows people to partake in this archive, but also to create their own. It has been the most important tool I have tried (slowly) to master during grad school. Digital resources are the wave of future for public history. The sooner we move towards a digital audience, the sooner we improve our interpretation and presentation of history.
Both President Lincoln’s Cottage and Ford’s Theatre have offered to post the blog on their Facebook pages to encourage people to help accumulate content for the scrapbook. The next time you come across a story about the Civil War of Lincoln, like Gettysburg Battlefield carrying a John Wilkes Booth bobble head doll in their store, share it with us!