Digital Project Reflection: Kuh Diaries

Hello, everyone! My “finished” website can be found here and my conference poster is below.

I’ve had a great time working on my project! However, I only qualify it as “finished” because it is wrapped up as neatly as possible for the end of the semester, but still entails more work. When I decided to limit myself to something manageable, I thought an average of two posts per year–which has turned into 15 total posts–would be easily accomplished. What I did not take into consideration was the amount of time and research I needed for the contextualization. In those 15 posts, 48 people and good number of places are mentioned. While I managed to more or less contextualize the people in each post, I have only been able to research and create profile pages for nine of them. As for places, I haven’t even been able to identify them all and add them to the posts, let alone make more than two profiles pages for them.

I had hoped to be further along before publishing – I still want to hyperlink all the people and places in the posts, and I want to go over and edit all the photos to cite to the right places and make sure the image titles are all proper. I might still take the website down in a few days to finish wrapping it up as my perfectionist side demands before publishing it again.

Still, I have had a lot of fun conducting all this research and translating it into the website. I had to look into a lot of obscure sources to even find some of the information I was looking for – for example, shout out to press censor Norman Caney for only being identifiable because he was a forestry nerd and mentioned once in The Empire Forestry Journal. Finding even a scrap of information was simultaneously frustrating and satisfying. I have a newfound appreciation for international archives doing their best to digitize documents and make them accessible online. Some archives have reacted to COVID-19 really well – the UK National Archives has responded by making up to 50 digital documents a month free for users to download. Thanks to that, I was finally able to get my hands on Kuh’s MI5 file. Overall though, I think it was worth it to trawl through all this research to be able to contextualize the diary entries. The diary entries are definitely more engaging and interesting when you have an idea who Kuh is talking about and why.

Working on the site was an adventure as well – the free version of WordPress is absolutely amazing for not requiring any money from me, but there is so much I wish I could have done that would only be possible through an upgrade. Instead, I’ve had an interesting time working around the limitations and adapting the free features to best suit my vision for the site. I have some experience messing with HTML on websites, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get anything working on WordPress. I had to stick with adapting what the site already had, but I’m pleased with how it’s turned out so far.

I also want to keep working on the project! There’s a lot of material to go through, even without digitalizing the whole thing. I hope my project will be interesting for those just casually browsing the internet, but I also think it could act as a jumping off point for further research. I know I, personally, have gone down several research rabbit holes because of one-off comments Kuh made in his diary. Hopefully others will appreciate the project for what it is and pursue their own research as well!

Thank you all for a great semester! I had a great time learning with you all and keeping up with all of your amazing projects. I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe!

One last Baby Yoda for the road, practicing social distancing!

5 Replies to “Digital Project Reflection: Kuh Diaries”

  1. Cameron,

    You did such an amazing job with your site– I can only imagine the work that you put into contextualizing people/places/etc. and I commend you for your attention to detail! I hope you can continue, because this could be an amazing project to pursue further. PS: Thanks for that Baby Yoda. I needed it 🙂

  2. Holy cow, Cameron, I am so impressed by your site! It looks so professional, and the amount of content there is amazing — I can’t believe you did this all in one semester. It’s clear you put a LOT of care into this project (the sources! the transcriptions! the sheer amount of information!), and I can’t wait to see how it comes along.

  3. Exciting to see how this all came together! The site looks great and it’s really interesting to see the level of work you put into contextualizing the people associated with the items. I think what you’ve put together here has a lot of potential as a kind of scholarly annotated version of this fascinating historical resource. In that vein, I think this nicely engages with a lot of the complex and varied approaches we saw to digital collections. It’s also clear that you’ve done a lot of primary research in support of the project which is great. Kudos on a successful project and excited to see how it develops more into the future!

  4. Cameron, this is such an amazing project! I had so much fun reading excerpts of Kuh’s journal. The details included about each person provided critical context about the social and political atmosphere Kuh lived in. To second Sarah I also hope you continue because this is a really engaging project.

  5. Your poster looks awesome! I am really glad that some of those UK archives were able to work through the COVID situation. I can’t wait to see how you continue to develop this project!

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