Those who know who Horatio Gates was will know him as the American general who organized the militias at the Siege of Boston into the Continental Army, but would fall out of favor in historical memory as the Revolutionary War came to a close. My digital history project, Horatio Gates: Atlantic Traveller, is a Story Map that follows Gates between 1750 and 1766 as he and his correspondence travel the Atlantic ocean.
Up until the last stages of this project I titled my Story Map “Horatio Gates Worldwide,” but after a conversation with JONAHESTESS1 I realized the papers on the map only surround the Atlantic ocean, so “worldwide” was not really accurate. I hope this change brings some clarity to the project by narrowing it from a global to an transAtlantic perspective.
“Who is Horatio Gates?” This was the major question when I presented my poster a week ago. As a result of this question I realized that bringing light to this mostly forgotten historical figure was one of my main goals from the beginning. I have been reading Gates’ personal papers since October and I have enjoyed getting to know him through the eyes of his friends and family. This digital project gave me a way to share what I have learned about Gates and give people to opportunity to discover him for themselves.
I also want this project to provide access to these sources for researchers. By having them online they are more accessible to a wider public. This also makes them available to use as a practice resource for people learning to use primary sources. By providing notes and transcriptions after the document it gives beginning researchers experience reading and pulling out important material from primary source documents.
At the end of the Story Map I include a few secondary sources. I provided these to encourage further research about Gates or the time period in which he lived. These are credible sources that are a good starting point for further research on Gates.
Many other classmates formatted their projects around mapping. HSTEIN’s project “Welcome, Darlings, to the Gay Movement” and SJONES’s “Mapping the Track of Serial Killers” also include mapping by tracking people and events. I feel that my project also aligns with ISAAC MAKOS’ “Washington on the Frontier” not only because they are mapping projects but they also cover a similar time period tracking the movements of a notable American leader.
The most important tip I learned during this process is to be patient with the technology and to work with the platform you are using instead of trying to make it do something it is not designed to do. I tried a lot of different platforms before using ArcGIS Story Maps and it took longer because I had a particular idea and I tried to find a platform that fit that idea instead of working with available resources. As a result of switching platforms so many times I had less time to construct the final product so I was rushed in the end. I should have been patient and tried to work with a single platform instead of switching when something did not work the way I wanted it to. I was very glad to work with ArcGIS because it did exactly what I wanted it to, but other platforms also had possibility if I had given them more time.
I am very happy with the way Horatio Gates: Atlantic Traveller turned out. I was able to include the papers I wanted and their transcriptions to make understanding the letters easier. By using a different color pin I was able to separate information, document and transcribed pins on the map so it is easier to use. I hope this Story Map will be helpful to a wide variety of people.