Digital Project Proposal: Japanese-Americans during World War II


Minoru Masuda, Hana Masuda, Masayo Duus. Each of these names belong to American citizens who, because of their race, suffered discrimination at the hands of the government as well as at the hands of their neighbors during World War II.

During World War II the United States government pursued policies of relocation and internment of American citizens and residents of Japanese descent. Their stories are not all the same however. While some were sent to internment camps, others volunteered for military service and ended up on the front lines in Europe.

The experiences of Japanese-Americans before, during, and immediately after World War II vary significantly based on age, location, and citizenship status. This project aims to provide valuable insight into these experiences beyond the average American’s understanding that Japanese-Americans were interned during the war.


For my project I will create a map that shows the journey of a number of Japanese-Americans, whether born in the United States or in Japan, as they were interned, relocated, deployed, and eventually attempted to return “home” once the war was over.

Google My Maps is a perfect fit for my project. With My Maps I am able to plot every significant location that each person passed through or spent time in. I can use the tools that My Maps provides to mark each location according to who was there and through a variety of customizable tools I can attach easily recognizable symbols to each, allowing interested audience members to focus on specific aspects of the journeys or on the stories of specific people.

This project will visualize the experiences of people whose stories have been covered copiously through text. As relocation and movement is central to their stories however, this project will provide a more easily accessible medium by which audiences can understand and interpret the Japanese-American experience.

Through My Maps I am also able to append images and links to each location, building a more holistic understanding of the material. Rather than flipping back and forth between pages to find an image that corresponds to an anecdote about a place through My Maps I will be able to include images, videos, and even audio clips that can more readily convey the immense emotion integral to these stories. The informative textual element will not be lost however, each element; textual, audio, and visual will tie into one another.

Project Goals

Part of the reason that I am using My Maps for the project is that it is accessible to anyone with access to Google Maps. This means that I can reach a wide audience through various social media platforms. This project is aimed to reach non-academic audiences and connect them directly to stories that are often overlooked in American history.

I can evaluate the success of my project through the use of Google Analytics which can monitor interaction with my map. Google Analytics will tell me important information such as how long people spend viewing my map and which stories they interact with.

The Defenses of D.C.

While of the 1814 British assault on Washington is almost certainly the city’s most famous battle, it was not the only one, or even the largest.  In the Summer of 1864, Confederate cavalry forces under Lieutenant General Jubal Early began a campaign of raiding directed towards the Capital, with the hopes of drawing Union forces away from ongoing campaigns in rebel held territory.  While loyal troops were eventually dispatched to help guard the city, Washington’s own ring of fortifications proved their value in discouraging an earlier attack.  These fortifications had been constructed in the wake of the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, and have continued to play a small but noticeable role in the city’s landscape.  Military road, for example, had originally been constructed to provide supplies to this network of fortifications.  Despite this, many of the forts now lie forgotten or at least unremarked upon.

This project will use History Pin to provide users a guide to the city’s fortifications.  As such, its primary audience will be inhabitants of and visitors to Washington DC, who want to learn more about the context of the environment they encounter; it will hopefully also be of interest to those studying the history of the city, or to military historians interested specifically in the history of fortifications.  In addition to simply providing the locations of these sites, this project will also provide users with accounts of these fortifications’ individual roles in seeing off Confederate attackers.  Where possible, the units involved in building and manning these fortifications will also be identified, with a description of the previous and later service of those units; if memoirs from those who served at these forts can be found, users will be provided with their titles and brief summaries.  The reason for making this a digital history project is straightforward: it allows for a larger audience to be reached, and for the informative material to be presented alongside the physical spaces it intends to inform the user about, without needing signs or other installations.

Outreach for this project would start with social media sharing via pages about Washington DC, its history, and even travel to the city.  References to it could also be inserted into Washington’s WikiTravel pages.  This would also account for how the project could be evaluated: if it is displayed to potential users via social media, then they could be asked to provide their thoughts on it by way of the same platforms.

Mapping the Apocalypse: Michael Toy’s Digital Project Proposal

My digital project proposal, like my paper project proposal, centers around the smash-hit 2015 video game Fallout 4. However, unlike the paper proposal, this project would engage with the game directly; rather than its philosophical influences, historical roots, or political narrative, this project would focus on bringing the Fallout world to the real world. By using a website or program like HistoryPins, I propose what would essentially be a reverse-engineering of the Fallout world back into real space—mapping the big-name, recognizable sites and locations featured in the world of Fallout 4 and mapping them virtually onto the map of Boston, the game’s setting.

In Fallout 4 one follows the adventures of the protagonist, “the Sole Survivor,” who emerges from cryostasis from a secured “vault” in the former suburbs of Boston in the year 2287, a decade after the previous title (Fallout 3) takes place and 210 years after the “Great War,” a nuclear apocalypse brought about by a military exchange between the U.S. and China, ignited by a long durée war over resources that has vague political roots but palpable consequences for the world’s denizens. During their journey to avenge a murdered spouse and recover a long-lost son, the Sole Survivor encounters a number of fictional and real-world sites scattered across the ruins of Boston, now known as “the Commonwealth.” Interestingly, the “virtual sandbox” in which Fallout 4 takes place is modeled after the real city of Boston and, due to the use of the next-gen “Creation Engine” (as first featured previously in the hit game Skyrim), is the most faithful recreation of a real-life location to date in the Fallout series, and possibly the most realistic virtual recreation of a real-life city in the history of video games (though that is sure to change as the virtual limitations of memory storage and computational power are overcome with state-of-the-art technology).

My proposal is to, in essence, take the most important locations featured in Fallout 4 and map them onto the real map of Boston so that those familiar with present-day Boston and the Fallout world’s post-apocalyptic Boston can compare the two in real time and see exactly how the game’s programmers decided to miniaturize an entire city in virtual reality. As the world of Fallout includes hundreds upon hundreds of unique locations, this project would be limited to a small number of the most important and influential locations, such as: the location of Vault 111, the protagonist’s home; the headquarters of “the Institute,” a laboratory carved out of the ruins of MIT that creates synthetic humans and stars as the title’s primary antagonist; “the Railroad,” an underground organization dedicated to saving synthetic humans from the Institute; and the headquarters of “the Brotherhood of Steel,” a militant group of technologically-advanced soldiers opposed to both the Institute and the Railroad. The game also features more than 34 “settlements,” residential areas scattered across Boston and populated by the Wasteland’s denizens that form the newest hubs of civilization in the brutal new world, that could serve as helpful landmarks in mapping the virtual Boston onto real-world locations.
While obviously not an exact or to-scale model of Boston, Fallout 4’s programmers were able to recreate a sufficiently accurate representation of the historic city such that many gamers living in Boston were and are able to locate (at least roughly) the location of their real-world homes in the world of Fallout. The project that I propose would basically reverse this process; rather than finding one’s real-world location in-game, the major locations of Fallout 4 could be cataloged and pinned onto the map of Boston by means of an app or program like HistoryPins, giving users the ability to observe both the accuracy of the programmers’ recreation and the locations featured in-game in relation to landmarks in the real world.

Love By Continent — Katie Krumeich’s Digital Project Proposal

We’ve talked a lot about how history is converted into digital media, and I think one of the greatest uses for history is in public education on how the status quo on any particular social issue came to be. In light of that, for my digital project, I’d like to create an interactive world map divided up by continents, and use that to show how same-sex love and other forms of attraction and sexuality, what we call in modernity LGBTQ+, was conceptualized across different places and times.

There is a paucity of round-the-world LGBTQ+ stories from a historical perspective. In fact, the usual treatment of this kind of material has been slipshod in scholarship and even, in those areas that do have it, encompassing straight up lies: mistranslated objects, etc., just generally very bad history.

My goal would be to make something that was accurate but also inclusive, so we could show in quick snapshots how what we would today call LGBTQ+ people existed, persisted, and sometimes resisted as communities.

The map itself will just be a simple clickable continents map, which when clicked will bring up relevant stories, sources, objects, and information about queer history on that continent. Asia, for example, might have lists of info about the terms cut-sleeve boy or wakashudo, and examples of works of art or literature of same-sex love: for example, Pu Songling’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio or the ukiyo-e prints of Japan.

The virtue of having this a digital project is immediate: it’s inviting people interacting with the project to think on a more broad scale as to how a biological fact—attraction and sexuality between people of the same gender occurs naturally in the human population—has been viewed and understood across different time periods and in different cultures.

This is quintessentially made possible by a digital project—a paper requires one to get in detail about one particular period and place, whereas this is history on a broader scale, to see how one biological inclination was viewed in umpteen different cultures around the world. As a paper, this would be broad to the point of uselessness. As a digital project, however, it’s actually useful and natural as a topic. Digital projects work well in more survey courses style of historiography, after all.

For my terms and information about historical predecessors to what we now call the LGBTQ+ umbrella, I’ll be turning mainly to queer theory as well as historians with a focus on same-sex attractions in history.


Digital History Project Proposal: Mapping Middle Eastern Conflict- Lina Mann

Project Conception

The Middle East has long been a complex and difficult concept to understand. It has had a extraordinarily turbulent past, chock full of land and religious conflicts, extending back at least two thousand years. This topic can be challenging for students and even adults to understand and visualize. We have heard about Middle Eastern conflicts in the news and in the history books but there have been rare opportunities to visualize the space in which these conflicts occur.

I propose a digital project which will focus on the Middle Eastern conflict during a small window of time, 1977 to 1982 (The years of Jimmy Carter’s Presidency). I will create an interactive map which will help high school age students understand, visualize, and interact with events in the Middle East. Since there were so many contested areas and spaces within the region, creating an interactive map would be quite helpful. I was inspired by the Cameron Blevins Houston mapping project, Mining and Mapping the Production of Space: A View of the World From Houston. The concept of visualizing a space to better understand its history is a compelling idea that I hope will carry through this project.


Project Description and Comparative Project

In order to bring this project to life I hope to use a website called Story Maps. This is a fascinating tool which encourages users to harness the power of maps to tell a story. The service allows you to use a background map and then move through the map in a similar fashion to a prezi. It allows you to embed photographs, text captions, videos, and even audio files to help curate and tell a story.  It boasts the fact that you can pull from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Dailymotion, Google Maps, Wikipedia, SoundCloud, Document Cloud among other sites. This allows for fantastic integration of various sources.

There is a really great example from the Washington Post which used this service to explain the way Isis is currently carving out a new country for itself. It created a map where you can click through text, photos, and videos. It is really cool and you can check it out here! My goal is to come up with something similar to this. I will use these tools to set the background for the conflict in the Middle East in the lead-up to the Camp David Accords which were signed by Israel and Egypt in 1979. I hope that I can highlight locations such as the Gaza Strip, to tell the story of how the Camp David Accords came about.  

Why Should This be Digital?

Space is hard to conceptualize in the context of history. Maps are great tools to help people understand this. Also, the Middle East is a difficult place to visit. This would allow people to learn about physical space without actually being present.

Audience, Publicity, and Outreach

I came up with the idea for this project because of the current research I am doing for my Public History Practicum class. For that class we are working with NPR and their archives of All Things Considered to curate a playlist of content related to their news coverage of the Camp David Accords. This final project will be used by students working on projects for National History Day. In doing my research for that project I got sucked in by trying to figure out the why of it all and kept coming back to how Middle East events culminated in the Camp David Accords. I think this has the potential to be a fascinating companion project that could be added as related link to this other project. I hope that it will also be useful to NPR and that they will include it as a link on the National History Day website. That is the ultimate goal. I also hope they will possibly allow me to embed pieces of audio from All Things Considered into this map!