Digital Project Proposal: Horatio Gates Worldwide

As time passes perspectives change, whether it’s over the course of years or a single day.  General Horatio Gates was beloved by the men he commanded and respected by his peers, including General George Washington, but mistakes were made and the view of Gates changed from honorable to disgrace.  The choices of Gates and the people he surrounded himself with are preserved in his personal papers, including journals and correspondence. By using these primary sources one can analyze different aspects of Gates’ life, from his financial situation to military orders.   

I plan to use these primary sources to map where Horatio Gates travelled throughout his life.  Most of his letters and journal entries include the location of the sender and/or the receiver.  Information in these letters tie into historical events, such as the increasing hostilities between British authority in the American colonies, which Gates discusses with his fellow British officers in his letters in 1766.  I propose mapping these locations and imbedding a scan of the letter along with a brief transcription of it contents. By including a scan of the primary source and presenting the information it contains, viewers can gain experience using primary sources to perform their own analysis.  

First I will create the map using ScribbleMaps, an online Google Maps software.  Here I can plot the locations, attach the scans from Horatio Gates’ personal papers currently on microfilm at the National Library at Mount Vernon and include a brief description of each.  Then I will upload the map onto MapSeries, a online map story software. In MapSeries I can create a website format around the maps and include background information that is relevant to the letters.  Once this project is published for the public I can possibly attach the site to the digital encyclopedia page on Horatio Gates.          

This resource will provide primary sources for French and Indian War as well as American Revolution era researchers.  It is also a resource for people who are not familiar with using primary sources. By presenting the source and the information one can obtain from it the viewer can learn the value of primary source research. George Washington’s Mount Vernon conducted similar research tracking George Washington through his diaries.  They constructed a a digital encyclopedia article detailing Washington’s travels, but this does not include a map.  My hope in the future is to overlap Gates’ papers and Washington’s to see where the two intersect, especially during the Revolutionary years.

2 Replies to “Digital Project Proposal: Horatio Gates Worldwide”

  1. Kaylee, I love this idea! I like how you encourage the reading and learning from primary sources, something that is rare in education these days. I also really like how you plan on scanning the actual letters and adding them to your map…this will give viewers various ways of educating themselves on Horatio.
    Also- As you may not have the time to document every letter and location, how will you decide which ones to do? And by picking and choosing letters, are you worried that you might give a biased or skewed view of Horatio?

  2. This sounds like a really interesting area and context to do a project in. It’s great that you have a specific set of source material and that you know it well.

    I think your idea of building a map of locations out of the source documents will be an engaging way to explore the content of the collections. You can probably try prototyping the concept really quickly by putting in a small number of example bits of data into ScribbleMaps and then use that as a basis to see how it starts to come together and see how it will work when you build out the whole thing. If you can, it’s often best to try and gather the core data in some single external source. So you might build out a spreadsheet of the data, and then you can load that data into an application like ScribbleMaps. That way, your data can live beyond the live span of the particular tool you work in.

    Who do you see as your core audience with this, and what would success look like for them with what you are intending to produce? I think you got into this a bit in your presentation in class but it doesn’t necessarily come through here. My initial sense is that what you are building could potentially be a tool for teaching or it could be a tool for supporting researchers. In either event, it would be great if you could pick who those ideal users are and try and find one or two to talk with about what you are putting together so that you could then go back and have them try out what you pull together. That kind of end user feedback is invaluable for getting a sense of how useful and usable a given digital project is.

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