Digital Project Draft – Beyond the Generals

My initial concept for this digital project was to create a tour that would get people to explore some of the lesser-known monuments and memorials around D.C. Since then, I’ve refined the project to focus specifically on Civil War-related monuments, since there are such an extensive number to work with. The final product is called “Beyond the Generals,” and it does exactly what it says on the tin: bypasses the statues of military commanders that litter the city to look at other approaches to commemorating the Civil War.

I wanted to use this project to examine how our national memorialization of this conflict has changed over time, especially once you take a lot of the great man narratives out of the equation. Therefore, I chose to lay it out chronologically, in the order these monuments were dedicated, and to discuss how the cultural context in which they were erected influence their content.

The basic structure of the tour is all in place, along with a rough draft of all the text. From here, my plan is to refine and edit the text and possibly add some additional or better historical photos, depending on what is available. The final stop (“The Dresser”) definitely needs a more professional photo, as the current one was just snapped on my phone as I was passing by. As I’m getting ready to make these refinements, I would love to get some feedback from all of you on my approach so far! I have a few bigger questions and a few little nitpicky ones.

Big questions:

  • Is the tour the right length, both in terms of number of stops and amount of content for each stop? Based on our class discussion I went for depth instead of breadth, but I could still expand.
  • Is it cohesive enough, and does the order make sense?

There are a few other stops I was considering adding if the consensus is that it should be longer, but they would require significant deviation from the current tour route, which is (mostly) linear even if you follow the chronological order I’ve laid out.

Little questions:

  • HistoryPin requires that you enter the year that each pin was created, so I’ve been including the years my photos were taken. I’m basing some of my discussion on the years the monuments were dedicated, though, which isn’t always the same as the photo year. Should I switch the years?
  • How formal should the citations be? Right now there are bibliography entries at the end of each pin, but they aren’t formally footnoted to specific parts of the text. And does anyone know how to fix those weird embedded link cards that are popping up?
  • Would it be useful for me to go out and take my own photos of each of these sites, or does having Google street view included accomplish the same thing?

The final element of my plan is to try to take a test run of this tour on the ground before I finalize it, so if anyone is interested in an afternoon of exploring some historically overlooked monumental architecture, do let me know!

One Reply to “Digital Project Draft – Beyond the Generals”

  1. I very much enjoyed reading through the text and browsing through the parts of the HistoryPin tour. I think it surfaces an interesting story to go both beyond the generals and to explore how the purpose of different civil war monuments developed and changed over time. It’s great how you have provided context on the history and reception of the individual monuments. It’s great that you were able to include some of the overlays of historical images over views from the street. That is one of the most compelling features of HistoryPin and it is something that is difficult to find the right material to pull off.

    In terms of overall scope, I think your less is more approach is a good one. With that noted, there is a really huge time jump up to the last two pins. It might be nice if you could find one or two more that rounded out the historical time frame.

    Your text for the pins is really great. It’s well written and it tells a compelling story over time. With that said, if you’re idea is for people to read the text as they take the walking tour it might be good to think about how you might trim it down a bit. In general, we are not primed to want to do a lot of reading in those kinds of situations.

    For the littler questions: I think it makes sense to stick with the years of the photos. That is functionally what you are pinning down in each situation so it makes sense that the narrative moves out in different directions and time frames. Not sure on the embedded link cards. As far as citations, I think just try and make them simple and sort. For this kind of tour text it’s normal to just have sources down at the bottom and not include in text citations. It seemed like street view was fine for the images of their current state.

    Looking forward to hearing how the test run of the tour goes!

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