21st Century Confederate Monument Project Poster and Reflections

Hi everyone,

For starters, here is my project poster:

you can download my poster below!

I learned a lot this semester. It taught me the powers and dangers of the internet when it comes to history, something I had never fully considered before this class. I also appreciated the various practicums we used throughout the course. I would have struggled to find all of these tools on my own, and watching y’all demo them made me feel very comfortable with even the most finicky and difficult software (looking at you, Aris). Lastly, our discussions often inspired me or challenged me to be more critical or to explore the depth of history on the web, which helped me grow as both as a historian and as a person.

When I decided to pursue a digital project, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I knew I wanted to build an interactive map because I feel participatory engagement is crucial to learning in the digital realm, but otherwise I was starting from scratch. When I landed on ArcGIS StoryMaps, it felt right but definitely daunting.

So, I started to embed myself in my research, scouring various databases and websites for elusive monuments and groups. Once I found a majority of the monuments that fit my criteria, I started to build the map. I had a near disaster when I lost half my points when my site reloaded before I saved (talk about a heart attack) and spent too many hours trying to figure out short cuts and ways to tweak my map so that it would present well.

Once I had a map, the rest of the site sort of wrote itself as I talked about what I was seeing and how that compared to what I was reading about these monuments. I found that these monuments carry on a historical legacy but have some new features about them that set them apart from previous memorials. In the end, it was a fun project and definitely a skill I am glad I learned. I want to keep working with it by updating it as necessary.

This process blended all the reading we finished throughout the semester and taught me how to think creatively and skillfully regarding digital websites and exhibits. As professionals, these skills we’ve practiced throughout the semester will be invaluable as our profession slowly embraces the opportunities the digital world continues to offer those who want to preserve and interpret the past.

Here is my final project, and on a similar note to Amanda’s post, you can follow me on twitter at @joshnreynolds . Congrats on making it to end, y’all

7 Replies to “21st Century Confederate Monument Project Poster and Reflections”

  1. Hi Josh! I am very impressed with your final project! It flows so well and is visually appealing. I was also fascinated to learn of your findings. Before you mentioning your research idea a couple months ago I had no idea that these monuments were still constructed in 21st century. Your findings are shocking but incredibly valuable and I’m so glad you decided to go this route. I know I benefited form your research. Thank you and great job!!!

    P.S. You make a very good point about the dangers of the internet. Something I also had not fully considered before this class and yet its something that we rely on every day so we should be aware of it.

  2. Josh I’m so proud of your project. I’ve enjoyed watching it come together over the course of this semester. I love the way that you structured your ArcGIS site to be more than just a map, but include the players, as you so aptly describe them. Like Claire, I was woefully unaware that Confederate monuments were continuing to be put up in recent years. With the discussion and debate surrounding Confederate monuments and how/if they should be interpreted or torn down, your research adds a dynamic layer to the conversation. I sincerely hope you continue on with this research in your public history work as I think it is incredibly important and has the potential to make a real impact on communities as they grapple with the ongoing remembrance of the Civil War. Thank you for doing this project and sharing it with us all!

  3. Hi Josh, your project is awesome. You situated your research into a contentious topic and challenged notions that many (including myself) held. I honestly was not aware so many monuments had been built recently. Your project emphasizes the role of history in modern conversations and why digital history is an effective tool for research and education. You nailed this project. Looking forward to seeing if you take this further.

  4. First off, wow. Your project is so clear, easy to read, and organized. It strikes a great balance between engagement and education, and takes on a challenging history with grace and contemplation. I am so excited about what you’ve created! I love the first-person aspects of the map and how quick it is to navigate. I could see this being of great use in a history classroom with students or as part of an online exhibit. You’ve built a great historical resource, and I am deeply impressed. Great work.

  5. Hi Josh! Your project is so well organized and designed to guide people through your process as well as your research. Like everyone has said, it is a great balance of information and engagement. I relate to your map scare from not saving and accidentally losing points on the map. That also happened to me once, and it was frustrating trying to recreate all of the information. Regardless, I’m glad that you were able to surpass the obstacles and create such a great resource. It’s definitely made me think of ways that I can try to lay out ideas my own StoryMap more clearly during these final days of the semester!

  6. Josh– this project is fantastic! I cannot wait to see where you take this. It is such an important and timely topic which could add nuance to the conversations already happening. The webpage is really well organized and easy to navigate. I completely relate to your struggles with the map– StoryMaps is such a powerful platform, but at the same time, it has some limitations. I’ve also accidentally not saved a handful of points…. so frustrating. Hope you keep working on this moving forward– it is already so impressive so I am excited to see what you do next.

  7. Hey Josh, I thought your project was fascinating. I appreciate the work you have done and the research you have done on confederate memorials. I find memorials to be very interesting because they depict special moments in history that are quite impressive. I thought your map was aesthetically pleasing, and the resources you used were interesting as well. I would like to learn more.

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