Digital History Project: “Where is the history?”

Me looking for a historical site I haven’t been to

Being a history lover I am always looking for new historical institutions to visit where ever I am. Whether it is a place where I have visited many times in my life, a place I’ve never been, or the place where I am currently living. But a lot of the time it takes me a while to find interesting smaller institutions that don’t always pop up in a quick google search for museums.

Many historical institutions are in a way hiding in plain sight, either by being overshadowed by larger institutions or being located off the beaten track from where most people look for institutions and things to do. I propose a digital history project that will help rectify this problem and draw attention to these amazing lesser-known institutions. This would be a mapping website that focuses on smaller historical institutions and sites within a city. The main goal of this project is to draw attention to institutions and sites that are not well known to most visitors and locals alike and to reveal a more holistic perspective of local history.

The site will be designed to be a city map much like Philliaplace, with pins showing various local historical sites, and institutions. When people hover their mouse over the pins they are given a one-paragraph history about the site along with a picture of it. When they click on the pin a page will open up that will give a longer overview of the institution, a little bit about its history, and a link to the institution’s website. On the main page visitors to the site will be given a couple of different categories of history that they would like to search for within the area, categories such as African American history, Immigration history, Native American history, etc. This will show the specific sites and institutions dedicated to a more specified history in the area and encourage people to go to these sites that may reveal a different perspective about the city in question. The site will also have a purely digital tour component that will show some historical sites that are no longer physically there, with pictures collected from digital archives visitors can learn more about the way that the city looked in the past and see where neighborhoods have changed throughout time and digitally preserve sites that are long gone. Hopefully, this site would be a place where people can learn more about a new area, and the area that they have lived for a while. The prototype will focus on one or two cities, but the site could expand in the future.  Hopefully, this site can draw more attention to smaller sites, and lesser-known histories.

Me using the force to bring attention/and people to these institutions

Podcasts and popular history-making

Before I started the process of applying to graduate school I was considering going to law school and took a couple of LSAT study courses. One of the best suggestions that my LSAT prep teacher gave us was a suggestion for a podcast that would help us learn more about the history of the supreme court. This suggestion shows the growing popularity of podcasts as a method of both entertainment and learning.

With the growth of streaming services, the listening experiences of most people has transformed, not only for music but also for talk radio. This talk radio form of entertainment has been replaced by podcasts. In the last couple of years, podcasts have increased steadily in popularity, there are now thousands of podcasts and this number continues increasing rapidly. Now there is a Podcast for almost any subject you can think of to politics, news, true crime and of course history. Podcasts are a new method of reaching out to the public and connecting with thousands of people on historical subjects and ideas.

History podcasts are becoming more and more popular and expanding the definition of what constitutes history to include genres such as true crime podcasts and podcasts dedicated to recent history, it can be argued that history podcasts are some of the most popular podcasts available. This means that there is a growing amount of the public who are connecting with history through the use of podcasts. Because of the popularity of history as a subject, there are a plethora of podcasts that focus on history as a subject, because of this podcast host vary in the way they address history and the subject they discuss on there shows.  Though many of them continue to tell the well-known main historical narratives still others are dedicated to making important interventions in the well-known historical narratives and encourage their listeners to think more critically about history. These historical podcasts also vary in the way they discuss history in the show, how they engage their audience, how they use their sources and which sources they use when they talk about similar subjects. I propose that for this print project I analyze some of the most popular history podcasts and explore the way that they translate their historical research for the digital streaming system of the podcast. I will look at the way that these podcasts address history, and portray it on there shows. I will also look at the way that they use their various sources, and how some of them address the same historical event. Through this analysis I will see the way that history can be transferred into this particular digital medium, and how it gives or takes away information from there listeners. The podcasts I have selected are:

Dig: a History Podcast

Revisionist history

The Memory Palace

Backstory

American History Tellers

All of these podcasts address history in very different ways and the hosts of the shows are also varied in there historical knowledge and how much they are involved in the field of history with some of them being academic historians it graduate degrees within the field and others being “amateur” historians who have interest in the field and do research for there shows.

Time Magazine Corpus: A site with a way with words

This website is pretty interesting and rather easy to use though it does have a more dated design. Time magazine partnered with English Corpra.org  to create a site that shows the frequency of words used in Time magazine articles that were released from 1923-2006. This site is one of many Corpa created including a Wikipedia corpus, a movie corpus, and a tv corpus.  There are 275,000 Time magazine articles uploaded onto the site, some of which can be downloaded onto your computer. This site is a useful tool that can show the evolution of the English language over time, with the growth of certain slang terms and some words that develop multiple meanings. The way to use the website is quite simple, you just type in a word, and press the “find matching strings” button, and then it opens up to a page with a table that shows how many times the word has been used in different decades, you can click onto the number under each decade and it opens a list of every time that Time magazine used the word in that era organized by date, with a part of the sentence that it appears in. By clicking on the date you can open up a bigger segment of the article so you can see the context of its use. Though there are links to the articles, unfortunately, these links don’t allow you to actually see the articles since most are no longer on Time magazine’s website. Another thing of note is that the website only allows first-time users about 10 searches before it requires you to create a profile so you can continue searching.

There are multiple ways to explore the site beyond just searching words. There are luckily some suggestions on the home page that allows you to do things such as compare words and there use in different eras, and explore the use of certain adjectives among other things. The kind of questions I thought of while using the site was how it could be used to explore the use of slang terms in print media throughout time. When did certain words become popular and for how long? I had a little trouble thinking of words and started to think about words that might be unique to different eras. One word I looked up was “rapper” which predictably did not really appear until the later 20th century, which is a reflection of the invention of hip hop and its growing popularity.

Other words like “negro” are more dated and eventually fall out of use. “Negro” was a word used frequently in the 20s-60s reaching its peak in the 60s with over 4,000 uses and then significantly drops to a measly 196 in the 70s and continued to drop into the 21st century. This seems to reflect significant changes within the country at large, such as the end of segregation and the Civil Rights movement Another word that reflects change is the word “apple” with infrequent use early on but after the 70s the word “apple” doubled in frequency because now it refers not only to the fruit but also the company. This website is a good way to see the way that language, and culture change throughout time, it also can be used to get a glimpse into what was considered significant to people in the past and can be a good way to see the way language is affected by history, however, it is not a very engaging site because of its simplistic platform and though it does allow for some insight it would be more beneficial if you could access articles without the need to download them. However, this is still a helpful website.

https://www.english-corpora.org/time/

Hi, I’m Jamie!

My name is Jamie Sanders, and I am a first-year master’s Public History student. I am from (mostly) Dallas, Texas and got my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of North Texas. I am a huge nerd who’s into Disney, anime, afro-futurism, Star Trek, and of course history among other things. I have been interested in history since I was a kid, and originally double-majored in history and anthropology as an undergrad, but I decided to graduate a little early and only completed my anthropology degree. In undergrad, I originally focused on European history and minored in classical studies, after graduation I took a couple of years off to really think about whether I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, and in what. After working for a couple of years in various positions I decided to go back to school and applied to AU’s Public History program. After being accepted into AU’s program I decided to change my focus to U.S. history, and refocus my intellectual interest to align with my other interest in promoting and telling inclusive stories.

D-town!

My focus now is on the history of marginalized groups. I really want to highlight the stories of Americans who are far too often erased from the main narrative, such as African Americans, Native Americans, and Mexican Americans. AU is the perfect place for me to pursue this avenue of research. Ever since I came here every aspect of the study has emphasized the importance of the pursuit of a more inclusive idea of history. I believe that this program will allow me to further develop my research interest, along with helping me gain valuable experience and skills I can use in the field. The AU program emphasizes practicing Public History work while in school and since my experience within the field is limited, I wanted to be apart of a program that will help me develop important skills and experiences. The location of the school was another big draw for me since I had always wanted to live in Washington DC which houses the Smithsonian and is home to world-renown historical sites. DC seemed like the perfect place for me to receive a degree in History, and gain valuable connections.

The desire to develop helpful skills is what lead me to take this class. The field of Public History has growingly embraced the internet as an important tool in not only history-making, and research but also in reaching out to the public. With the use of the internet, Historians can reach the public more often and in more creative and innovative ways. I took this class to gain valuable skills I can use to connect with the public, and that I can utilize in the museum field. I am excited to get to work this semester!

Review: Feeling the love for Philly with PhilaPlace

When I first opened PhilaPlace’s homepage I could immediately see both how amazing the site was and a potential problem. It was colorful and engaging with a large beautiful picture of an old map and an excited “welcome to PhilaPlace” message towards the bottom. At the same time, a pop-up from Google said “google maps could not load properly,” I was concerned that a fundamental part of the site (mapping) might have been inaccessible, luckily as I explored the website my initial worries were put to rest.

Background

PhilaPlace is an interactive mapping and multimedia site created by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, that focus on two neighborhoods within Philadelphia, Old Southwark and the Greater Northern Liberties. These neighborhoods are some of the oldest within the city outside of the original city limits drawn up by William Pen. Throughout their history, these neighborhoods have been populated by a diverse community of working-class migrants and immigrants from around the world. This community created a vibrant and diverse culture that the creators of the website celebrate throughout the site. The site doesn’t just focus on history but also highlights the changing landscape of the city and emphasizes the problems that arise because of gentrification. In an ever-changing city this site is meant to celebrate, document, and preserve this local history with the help of the community itself who are often encouraged to upload their own stories about the neighborhoods.

Exploring the site

Lenni Lenape family

After looking at the mission and background for the site I began my exploration by going to the neighborhood page. This gave me a brief background about the neighborhoods themselves and the people who lived there. There I discovered an interesting photo within the collections and selected it opening the collections page where I found a treasure trove of information about the picture including an article about it and the people it represents, the Lenni Lenape. The collection is filled with a variety of interesting pictures like this one that represents people from throughout the history of the city, telling their stories through historical sites, pictures, video, and audio. Probably the most fun way to see this history is to go onto the interactive map page. On this page, you have several options for viewing the map. You can look at a contemporary map, a 19th-century map, or a 20th-century map. The pins on the map stay the same no matter what you change it to but it is a fun background. You can look at various historical sites by just clicking the dropped pins or you can explore specific sites by going on a virtual tour. The website is relatively easy to use and there’s a variety of different ways to access and narrow your exploration.

The history highlighted accomplishes many of the creators’ goals of illuminating the diverse history of these neighborhoods, and it illustrates how influential place is for a community. Not only do you learn about these sites but you can also learn about other cultural and historical institutions that you can visit. I discovered this by looking through the collections and seeing that on occasion there are websites of various institutions that provided some of the objects within the collection. This is a great way to explore institutions within the city and encourage visitors to the website to learn more about the community.

There are many great things about this site but there are a few problems. When it comes to video, and audio content you need to ensure that the internet browser you are using is Microsoft Edge, if you use Firefox or Google Chrome the site won’t bring them up, which is a significant issue since many people who visit the website won’t know that. After getting past this barrier, however, you are introduced to the most community-centered aspect of the site, with about 50 oral interviews where you can learn about the community and the sites from the people themselves. Though I am sure the community was involved in other aspects of the site the oral interviews really gave me a connection to the people within the community more so than the articles. Though the articles are quite informative they were often quite long, and not very engaging. The language was very scholarly and for people who love history (like us!) this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for those who are more casually exploring the site, this might be a turn-off. This becomes a slightly bigger problem when going through the virtual tour. Clicking through the tour you would expect more of a brief overview of the places shown and some of their history. However, when you initially click through the first information that is previewed it the beginning of larger articles that talk in detail about the population represented and the site. This is good for if you want more information about the broader community, however, it causes the visitor to literally hunt for the information about the place shown in the pictures.

Besides a few problems, the PhilPlace is a fun and engaging way to explore the history of a community and shows a different version of Philadelphia not often seen. This website is good for not only visitors to the “city of brotherly love” but also residents who want to learn more about their city. With the collaboration between the community and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, this site is an excellent example of Public History, and sharing authority!  

http://www.philaplace.org/