Final TikTok Project

We finally made it! I had so much with this project and hope you find it as amusing and informational as I do! Enjoy! Link to “Savage” video featuring me:

Link to “Say So” video featuring my beautiful best friend Emily:

Final Poster

Reflection: Throughout this process I learned how to use edit social media videos and make TikToks. I first started editing Snapchat videos; really just splicing up the videos. I gradually made my way over to TikTok which is so much more advanced that I thought it would be: you can do so much on your phone and really completely change the video. I spent probably a total of 20 hours looking at TikToks trying to pick out the best dances that would be easy enough to learn but also would allow me to superimpose text in the video. This was probably the easiest part of the entire process; all I had to do was scroll through thousands of videos.  I wanted to pair what I thought was the best fitting viral dance/song to the a certain moment in LGBTQ+ history. For example, I think Harvey Milk was a savage, so I paired his history with Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Savage,” I think the song “Boys Ain’t Sh*t” went along perfectly with the history of the Stonewall riots, because policemen had the nerve to breakup a safe place for LGBTQ+ to express themselves so they ain’t sh*t. The next step was to align the text boxes to certain moves; I wanted to have new text align with specific moves so it all looked cohesive. I made six storyboards planning how I would combine the text and movements; this made the process so much easier because I had everything laid out already before I even started recording. Because I was unable to record all six videos, the storyboards act as the final draft of what would have been the video. The most difficult aspect of this project was learning and perfecting the dance.

I practiced dancing and editing with my mom because she was doing some weird thing with her friends in which they all sent each other videos of them dancing so it worked out perfectly. I made my mom learn the “Savage” dance: we practiced in the kitchen for an hour for three days before I felt comfortable enough to record. What I wasn’t anticipating was how difficult it was to make my face look happy. Emily, my other dancer also expressed this challenged. After I recorded my video it was time to record Emily’s. In order to maintain social distancing protocols, I had to record her from a safe distance outside. I knew that because I wouldn’t be able to have as diverse of a group as I initially wanted I was going to have to focus on making two really great examples.

This project was so much fun and also really informative: I exposed myself to a new social media platform, and I learned a lot more about the LGBTQ+ community. I am so grateful for those who came before me, challenging the status quo which now allows me to express myself freely and openly. While I am of course disappointed I couldn’t do everything I set out to, I am happy with the videos I did make and the skills I now possess. Maybe I’ll become a TikTok star now with all this new found technological expertise (just kidding, I  would NEVER succumb anyone to watching me dance ever again.)

DC Education and Immigration Project

When I began working on this project, I was interested in identifying school district materials related to bilingual education in El Paso, Texas (something I hope to work on in the future) and to house them on a website for my use and for others. However, that didn’t seem feasible for this project, so I directed my attention toward the District of Columbia Public Schools. Before starting this project, I wasn’t aware of the Charles Sumner Museum and Archives, which is an incredible resource that houses DCPS documents going back to 1804 and is one of the most comprehensive public school district archives. I was able to visit this archive twice before the Covid-19 crisis, and found the Museum Director, Kimberly Springle, to be incredibly helpful. She provided guidance on how the archive is organized and gave me specific leads. I am very happy to have shifted to focusing on education for immigrant-origin students in D.C., and I plan to continue this project and to explore how DCPS has and continues to serve immigrant-origin students. 

Two things that stood out to me from the class that have helped me better understand are the principle of Respect Des Fonds and questions of responsibility for maintaining digital projects. I had initially thought to call the website an “archive,” but now know that it is totally a collection! I also never really thought of maintaining this and what happens to it if I don’t. What I take from both of these is that I really can just put in time and thought and make a website that hopefully others will find useful. One aspect of digital items and projects I really appreciate is the preference for tinkering and “iterating” – I can just update the website as I see fit. That said, I did hope to identify, and digitize and upload more documents, which hasn’t been possible because of Covid-19. 

Since I posted a draft version of the project webpage, I wrote more background to try to better express what I see as the significance of the project. Trevor mentioned in his feedback that more explanation about the project would be helpful. I think this has greatly strengthened the project. I know why I think it’s important, but I wasn’t really conveying that to those who might visit the website. I plan to continue to tweak this background section as I (hopefully) do more research on the topic of bilingual education in schools. Once I do finally get more items up on the webpage, I would like to approach the Sumner Archives about potentially coordinating outreach to potential site users. I also read that the archive hosts summer research seminars, so if I am able to get this built out by Spring, 2021 I might try to apply to participate in that. 

I’ve also identified the three focus areas I’d like to start with and plan to make collections for them. This includes The Webster School, which was an Americanization school, the DCPS response to the 1968 Bilingual Education Act, and gentrification and bilingual education programs. Once it is safe again, I hope to return to the Charles Sumner Museum and Archives to locate items relevant to these. I’m hoping that will be before 2022…

Thank you all for a great semester! I learned so much for Trevor and all of you during discussions and from your posts! I am looking forward to reading and using all of your final projects. I hope that you and your families and friends are safe and well.

Project Reflection: Immigrants in the Union Army

The link to the website can be found here.

My digital project attempted to place the Civil War in a broader context by examining the lives of immigrant soldiers in the Union Army. This project allowed me to explore the intersection of the Civil War and 19th-century immigration, which are two areas of history I am extremely interested in. I first became familiar with the historiography of immigrants in the Civil War when I interned at Gettysburg National Military Park. I gave a program about the third day of the battle through the lens of the 39th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the Garibaldi Guards. I originally had the idea of creating one map and plotting the journeys of dozens of soldiers and regiments that heavily consisted of immigrants. However, the constraints of story maps did not allow me to pursue that idea. Instead, I decided to narrow my focus on four soldiers; Albert Cashier, Włodzimierz Bonawentura Krzyżanowski, Joseph Pierce, and Carl Schurz. While I also hoped to explore immigrant soldiers who served in the Confederate Army the time constraints and lack of accessibility to monographs about the topic compelled me to abandon that idea and narrow my focus on immigrants who served in the Union Army.   

Working with story maps was initially frustrating. When I tried to create lines in between each point the points themselves would sometimes move. When I found myself wasting too much time to try and remedy this issue I decided to just leave the points as they are. I originally intended to embed primary source documents to go along with certain points but it became difficult because story maps would not allow me to orient the photo myself. If I had to do this project again it would be interesting to see how the points would look on a different tool, such as google maps.

When I initially proposed this project, I had the idea of it becoming an educational tool that teachers could use to allow students to explore the relationship between the Civil War and immigration patterns to the United States. It could also challenge students to think critically about the intellectual, cultural, and social baggage of immigrants, specifically in the case of those fleeing political persecution. While all the outcomes I initially proposed did not come to fruition I still think the site and maps are capable of raising questions about how we interpret the role of immigration in American history.

I was able to create some of the pages I originally thought about during the proposal phase. I created a page that provides people with a list of monographs, articles, and websites they can use to learn about the experience of prominent immigrants such as Carl Schurz and Franz Siegel as well as the efforts of the Irish Brigade. I also compiled the names of immigrants I came across in my research into a list that could guide those who are interested in learning more. I plan to continue building this list by adding more names and regiments that were made up of immigrants. Furthermore, while I did not have the chance to explore all the avenues I originally intended to I enjoyed constructing a project that challenges people to recognize that critical events such as the Civil War do not occur in a vacuum.

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!

Digital Project Reflection: Mapping Disaster: Measuring the Cost of Human Disaster Events

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well and feeling encouraged that we are very nearly done with the semester! It’s been a wild and challenging one, but I’ve still really appreciated being in this class with each of you. You’ve taught me so much and made it such an enjoyable experience. 

As I reflect on my Final Project, I’ll ultimately glad I chose to pursue a digital project on what will, ultimately, be part of my dissertation project. Prior to this semester, I had been considered how I might develop a public/digital component or format for my dissertation, but was unsure of how best to communicate the significance of chronic flooding in Washington, D.C. Mapping felt like a natural and useful choice, but it wasn’t until getting into StoryMaps that I realized how massive this digital project will ultimately be. My final project layers demographic and scientific data from a SINGLE flood event and is by no means an exhaustive analysis of that single event. Further, I was fortunate to utilize pre-made layers and data sets that other ArcGIS users have already developed to establish my map. For my dissertation, I plan to do a century-worth of these events within a single project. I will have to create shapefiles for these other events and link them to datasets I create in order to develop layers within ArcGIS. It will truly be a massive undertaking, but my final project demonstrated the utility of pursuing the larger project and for that I am thankful (fingers crossed I don’t burn out!!!).

In my post for my “Mapping Disaster” draft, I posed the question of whether or not to add more demographic data to the final project or to attempt to add another disaster event from the 1920s or 1940s to demonstrate change over time. Trevor also suggested that it might be helpful to provide a “walk-through” of how to use the map. In going back to make changes for the final draft, I quickly found that I wouldn’t be able to add data for another disaster event in the 1920s or 1940s to show change over time, as these disaster events have yet to be mapped and each decade was missing some type of demographic data I planned to use—there was a zoning map for the 1920s but no census data for the tracts in D.C., there was census data for the 1940s but no zoning map, etc. Creating layers for the missing data would be far too large an undertaking for this course, so I pivoted. I decided to add two substantial components to the final project: 1. A “Navigating the Map” section that walks users through how to use the StoryJournal and what type of data is featured, and 2. A section on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) commitments from 1936. 

Check out the final project HERE.

The section on FHA commitments really elevates this project from a single event to one wrapped up in a larger history of institutional segregation and environmental injustice in Washington, D.C. Indeed, the topic of housing in Washington, D.C. is intimately connected to my primary goal for “Mapping Disaster”: to demonstrate the “human cost” of disaster events by illustrating vulnerability. Overlaying FHA commitments on a 1936 map of D.C. reveals a few important trends: that the FHA was still underwriting mortgages for homes along the Potomac and Anacostia floodplains, suggesting that flood-risk was not among the factors considered to determine “solid” investments from mortgage lenders, and that the FHA was not insuring mortgages in communities of color, suggesting these communities were not solid investments (FHA Underwriting Manuals from the 1930s-50s outline their overt racially-discriminatory practices). To read more about institutional racism in Washington, D.C., check out the exceptional project, Mapping Segregation DC. Though this topic necessitates greater analytical work, I believe it complicates the narrative of the Potomac River Flood of 1936 in Washington, D.C., by painting a clearer picture of what constituted “risk” in terms of housing investments, and underscores the systemic racism within the city, which was exacerbated during flood events.

One significant aspect of “Mapping Disaster” that I was unable to pursue this semester were oral testimonies of disaster events. Lived experience really gets at the continual and compounded impact of disasters and vulnerability in Washington, D.C. and a main focus of my dissertation research. That said, gathering oral testimony requires developing deep relationships, gauging community interests in sharing these narratives, and committing myself to this history and those most impacted by it. A semester is not nearly enough time to undertake that process, and COVID-19 really prevented me from even beginning the process.  Moving forward, however, I see the lived experience as an essential piece of what this project can ultimately become. 

This class and project have really expanded my understanding of the digital tools and methods for conveying historic information in the digital sphere. It has revealed the deep roots of spatial history, posed important questions about the longevity of digital projects (and how/if they are maintained overtime), challenged me to think critically about the type of dissertation project I will produce in a moment in which the field is navigating the limitations of analog projects, underscored the utility of interdisciplinary work, and inspired me to create ever-more accessible, critical, and impactful work that can help, if only in a small way, to push the fields of history/public history/digital history into a more equitable, accessible, decolonized, forward-thinking space. I leave this class with the confidence of having an abundance of tools and information to pull from as I continue the process, and am most grateful for the other passionate, creative, innovative, individuals I’ve met during this course who seek to do the same.

Thank you all for a great semester! Stay well!