The Mall, Museums, and Adornments

This week I will be reviewing three different resources and demonstrating how to use them.

Mall History

This is an interactive website that provides a map with both commonly known and unique stories of the national mall. This website comes from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media with funding from the NEH. The map is the highlight of the website with 346 different pins. The website is meant to be used either on mobile when you are at the mall or on desktop to explore from the comfort of your own home.

Mall History Interactive Map

First, click on the Maps tab at the top of the page. Let’s pick a pin to look at. Since it’s Cherry Blossom season, let’s click on the Jefferson Memorial. There are 3 pins in this category, I’m going to select “Cherry Tree Protest at Jefferson Memorial Site” At the very bottom of this page there is a view more info button, which gives you additional detailed information, including citing their sources.

Cherry Tree Protest Pin

There are several other features on the website. Under the Explorations tab there are a collection of questions answered in blog style responses or activities like scavenger hunts. Under the People tab , there are photos with names of people who have historical connections to the mall like singer Marian Anderson who gave a concert in 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The fourth and final tab is the Past Events Tab. This provides a timeline of events that relate the the creation of the mall or significant events that occurred on the mall.

Overall, this is a really fun resource for Mall History that gives you commonly known info and some off the beaten path histories. The map element actually works quite well on mobile, which is a huge plus. This project is no longer updated as of 2014, so any events after that would not be included (like Jan 6th, for example).

Will to Adorn

The will to adorn app is companion to the project The Will To Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity, which documents and preserves the diversity of African American identities as they are presented through various adornments such as clothing, jewelry, and hairstyles. This project comes from the Smithsonian folklife festival of 2013. The app provides a space for people to share their own stories about their personal style and how it represents them. The app is no longer available for download but the website provides a brief overview. From what I gathered you can record your own voice answering questions and also listen to others who have provided recordings. There was also the opportunity to upload photos as well.

Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main Street is part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. This service brings thoughtfully designed exhibits to small town America. The website provides all kinds of resources for educational outreach in rural areas including acting as an online archive which documents the stories of those who live there. There are starter kits that provide a pre-constructed exhibitions or an opportunity to collaborate and develop your own.

Example of a Starter Kit for an exhibition on labor history

There’s a lot of content on this website which makes it a standout resource. The last things I will mention is the Road Report Blog, which tells stories from the traveling exhibitions. There’s also a podcast which features stories from rural America, both of these resources, while fascinating, don’t appear to be maintained, hopefully a revival of these resources is coming in the future.

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