Digital History Project: Double O, On The Record

For this project, I propose to digitize and contextualize the content of Frederick Kuh’s diary dating from 1938 to 1942. 

Using WordPress, I plan to create a blog covering each entry of Kuh’s diary. The diary covers the tumultuous period Kuh spent living in London through the outbreak of World War II. As a diplomat and journalist, Kuh recorded detailed meetings and interactions with important officials and dignitaries from a number of countries, including Japan, Romania, the US, and the Soviet Union. His diary reveals his extensive information network; Kuh was known to break important war news ahead of others, to the point where MI5 kept files on him as a suspected spy. 

Not much information on Frederick Kuh is available online. Digitizing his diary and presenting it in an engaging manner would provide unique access to his insight and the fascinating dynamics of the press and international dignitaries at the onset of World War II. The diary would be interesting not just for historians researching diplomatic history and WWII, but also those casually interested in history, journalism, and potential spy intrigue.

In addition to simply digitizing the diary entries, my goal would be to also contextualize them. For each applicable entry, I plan to post the headlines from major newspapers of the countries mentioned. Whenever an individual or place is mentioned in Kuh’s entry, I would also like to include a small profile or explanation. The end result would hopefully make Kuh’s diary as accessible as possible to a wider audience. Other blogs have taken similar approaches, like the Tumblr blog Yeoldenews that transcribes and contextualizes Victorian era letters. Having information immediately available not only provides depth to the historical narrative, but also ensures that those not interested in looking something up independently can still understand the context. Of course, for this project, this would all rely on the possibility of identifying individuals and finding digitized newspapers online, but I believe it to be largely feasible. 

            There are some difficulties that could present themselves with such a project. First of all, the Frederick Kuh collection is housed in the GW Special Collections, and I am still in the process of communicating with them to determine the copyright. I think that either way, I should still be able to pursue the project, even if I have to limit the amount of the diary I digitize. Also, for the purpose of having a semi-complete project by the end of the semester, I might have to choose to focus on specific entries instead of the entirety of the diary anyway. However, my goal would be to eventually digitize and complete the entire work, but that end goal might have to happen in the future on my own time. 

Print Project Proposal: Food for Thought

            Food is often a very significant point of cultural transfer and exchange. The restaurant industry is constantly in shift and mirrors the supply and demand of different foods and cultural trends. I would like to use the digital project What’s on the Menu to study to what extent the New York Public Library’s collection of menus reflect immigration and what that says about the digital project itself. 

            What’s on the Menu is a digital project based off of the Buttolph Collection of Menus housed at the New York Public Library (NYPL) archives. What’s on the Menu, like the Library of Congress’s By the People initiative, relies on crowdsourcing to transcribe menus. The menus are then available in their entirety online. The dishes, drinks, and corresponding prices are easily found. The site also offers different ways of searching through the content. The menus are available chronologically, alphabetically, or by dish count. The individual dishes can be sifted through either chronologically, alphabetically, by popularity, or by obscurity. The project also offers the data through their API and are working on geotagging (although this does not currently work and it’s unclear how long this has been the case). They also offer up to date spreadsheet exports twice a month, with their most recent export uploaded on 02/01/2020. 

            In looking at these menus and dishes to study the extent to which they correspond to immigration trends, I’d also like to take a close look at the digital project. The actual collection of menus numbers around 45,000, but only 17,545 have been digitized and made public on What’s on the Menu. How was the selection made in choosing what to digitize and what to leave analogue for an indefinite amount of time? The project also lists its audience primarily as researchers, such as historians or those in the food industry, who want to study the availability of certain foods in various areas and the evolution in pricing throughout the years. There are, of course, other questions and fields of study that could be built off of such a project. What effect might their targeted audience have had on the selection of what kind of restaurant menus to digitize and transcribe?

            It would be ambitious and involve actually traveling to the New York Public Library collections, but it would also be interesting to compare the physical collection of menus to the digital project. However, the significant number of menus to sift through could pose a problem in pursuing this.

Another interesting comparison would be the overlap between collection’s finding aid to the site’s categorization and then seeing what points were born from the digitalization of the collection. Using all these threads, I want to use the database to look at how reflective the menus and dishes are of immigration and cultural exchange, and then how the digital project impacts the use of the data for such a question.


Now that and the difference between the two sites has been covered, let’s delve into After all, much like Excel, you’ll want to at least know the basics if you’re going to bluff about knowing Omeka on your resume.

First of all, is useful because of the clear difference between it and Right off the bat, is accessible by logging in online, whereas you have to download and use it as a platform on your computer. Once you’re hired and asked to use Omeka for the first time, you can just claim you actually only have experience with the other one. “Oh I’m only familiar with, but I’m confident I’ll pick this up quickly!” = Points for knowledge AND adaptability.

WWJHD? (What Would Jim Halpert Do?)

Now that we’ve honed our professional BSing skills, let’s do a quick refresher on the difference, and get started on the details.

Great! Now that we’ve pretended to understand the other differences between the two based on those lists, let’s go to

Immediately, you’re confronted with another choice: Omeka S versus Omeka Classic.

Thankfully, they’re more clear about the differences here: Omeka S is geared towards institutions who need to share resources among a number of people on more than one device. Omeka Classic is for individuals and educators.

Let’s start with Omeka S. Presumably because it’s meant for institutions, Omeka S offers the opportunity to test it out online in the “Sandbox” before actually downloading it.

This is what you seen when you log in using one of their demo emails!

Omeka S lets you create a webpage based off your collection. Once you choose a theme and create pages and a navigation system, you can populate them with the collections you add to the site.

How does Baby Yoda fare on

It took me very little time to set this up. It’s a fairly intuitive system, especially if you’re not looking to start out with anything too complicated. Once you get the hang of it, I’m sure the more complex stuff becomes more apparent. There are also a lot of options to include metadata, which I ended up not doing, but they’re there. For institutions or individuals actually setting up digital archives, it’s important that metadata is built so integrally into the system.

Let’s see how the actual site looks…

Well. It could use some work to not look so “graphic design is my passion,” but it’s a good start! You can see the potential.

Unfortunately, the demo page wipes everything every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, so this is goodbye to the Baby Yoda page. Probably for the best given the copyright laws.

Bye, bud

How about Omeka Classic? There’s no Sandbox so we’ll have to download it.

Here’s what you get on a Mac

So it becomes pretty obvious that it’s a little more complicated than it looks. There’s no clear way to open it. I can’t even access the ReadMe. Thankfully, most product websites have instructions.

But not this one!

Apparently if you don’t understand it, you’re not quite smart enough and probably should just sign up for instead. Admittedly, I don’t know the first thing about running a server, so I appreciate the moxie. (There is actually a User Manual elsewhere on the site if you click around a little more, but it does involve setting up a server and I’m just definitely not about that.)

Even if we didn’t get to take a look at the Classic version, it’s probably safe to assume it’s pretty similar to the Omeka S sandbox. Going off of that, is pretty cool. It might take some time to get to know all the details, but it’s a nifty way to not only create a digital archive, but to design online exhibits as well!

Recap: Who is Omeka for?

  • Are you an institution creating a simple digital collection and exhibit? Then yes, use it!
  • Are you an individual setting up your own archive and want to make a website for it? Yes, go ahead!
  • Are you someone who has very little time but still wants to make a page dedicated to the sweet, sweet boy, Baby Yoda? Sure, have at it! (Although is apparently the better option here)
  • Are you just creating a personal website? Well, then probably no. There are easier sites that don’t require quite so much metadata input. probably has its flaws and frustrations, but it does what it says it does and it seems easy enough to use. Overall, it’s a cool tool to create a simple digital archive and website to exhibit the material. In practice, it seems hard to differentiate between which sites were made with and which with, so to avoid repetition, see the post for examples from museums who use Omeka!

Hi, I’m Cameron!

Hello everyone! I’m Cameron Sandlin, I’m a first year Public History MA. I’m originally from Memphis, TN, but I moved overseas when I was young and spent a good part of my life over there. I lived in Romania and France, and bounced around a bit while there. Somehow, after graduating high school in France, I ended back in my hometown for undergrad and went to Rhodes College. It was a weird coincidence, but it turned out really well!

GIF of Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove pulling down a map illustrating different paths and saying "By all accounts, it doesn't make any sense."

I already loved history after growing up in Memphis and then being surrounded by centuries worth of history on a daily basis, but it was during my undergrad that I discovered my academic interest in history. My research interests vary, but I’ve mostly focused on European history and queer history. I got my BA in History/International Studies and German. I also got to spend a year abroad in Tübingen, Germany. Tübingen is great, and I definitely recommend visiting during the International Chocolate Festival or the annual boat race on the Neckarbrücke.

The entire town goes to the river to watch the costume contest and then the race. There were so many people that phone service crashed and it was impossible to find anyone.

While at Rhodes, I found out about a Public History concentration in the History Department. I did archival internships at the Memphis Public Library and OutMemphis, Memphis’s LGBTQ center. In the end, it turns out I somehow wasn’t eligible for the concentration because of my bridge major (the typical administrative nonsense), but I had already gotten interested and involved in Public History, so it all snowballed from there. And now here I am! I’m making my way through the Public History MA program and working at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

As digital history is becoming more and more important and is a valuable resource in the effort to make history accessible to as many people as possible, I’m looking forward to learning more about the theories, skills, and tricks of the trade.