The project I completed this semester was a walking tour of Washington DC that covered all 8 wards of the city. The goal of this project was to create the longest walking tour in the district and display the rich local history that each community has to offer. I wanted to create a spectacle that would invite a public audience to engage with the history that is all around them.
My methodology for this project was simple but effective. I started by creating an outline of the tour that would see those participants pass through all 8 of DC’s wards. After having an outline of where the tour needed to go I found historic sites that followed that rough outline. I aimed to have a diverse set of sites that covered a wide variety of topics and I am pleased to report that I hit numerous historical topics that displayed the rich history of the local communities. After finding the sites I created the tour in the Clio web app which allows users to create tours that can then be pushed to the public. This way the tour can live on online for the public to use how they see fit. While I don’t think anyone will ever complete the entire tour again I would love to see the public jump in and out of the tour to visit some of the sites. Finally, I completed the tour myself to not only prove that it could be done in one day, but also to see what it was like to complete the tour and what lessons could be learned by walking all 8 wards in one day.
Reflecting on what I learned from this project I feel as though I learned a lot about how to apply digital history to public history. Using tools that were highlighted in the very first week of class (history pins) to think about how to invite the public to engage with the history that is all around them. The tools that we saw every week in the demonstrations really displayed how interactive digital history can be and as I walked and analyzed these sites through my phone it really brought home how digital history can enhance public history.
I also reflected on what some of the sites represented and how their physical absence necessitates the use of digital history so their story can be told. Many of the sites I walked past one would not know the history or the significance of without some sort of digital tool or preexisting knowledge. I am still unsure if we should push to get physical reminders of the importance of these sites, or if we should understand that not everything can be physical and it leaves space for the digital side of history to flourish. I personally lean towards the latter but it is an interesting intersection on how we represent history. Overall I enjoyed not only the project but the class in its entirety. I learned how constantly evolving the field of digital history is and how important it is to understand. A modern public historian must understand the digital world in order to effectively engage and entertain new audiences.
One Reply to “Austin Bailey: Project Summary”
Austin, I absolutely love the concept and follow through with your project. I love the insanity of it! But it also does a great job of tying digital history and public history together. I like how you went out and did the tour yourself to make sure it was doable (and enjoyable) for others. I will definitely be checking out your tour in the Clio app to see how I could possibly recreate it for the next time my family comes to town (my parents love to average 8-10 miles a day walking through cities on their vacations, so this is the perfect tour for them to go on!). I think it could be really neat if you considered posting on Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter about this tour and get the word out there as well!