My final project for this semester is a digital exhibit about the history of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in America. It chronicles the life of the book from it’s first publication in 1952 all the way up until today. I tried to cover as much as possible while still making it move quickly so as to keep peoples attention. However, this was harder than I thought it would be.
I’ll be honest, going into this project I thought that I already knew a good deal about working with digital creation tools. Boy was I wrong. At first I thought I would use Omeka, but then I realized that Omeka works better if you have a larger archive of material. So I switched to Storymaps. It was easier to work with still labor intensive. You have to think so carefully about what text and images you use.
One problem I encountered that I think was unique to my project was that it really hard to find reports of banned books. For the most part book banning isn’t reported much in the media. Eventually I found the some resources that helped but it took a while.
All in all I had a great time working on this project and I hope you all enjoy! Here’s the link:
This week I will responding to the 2012 report Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians. It was written by Jennifer Rutner and Roger C. Schonfeld and published by Ithika S+R. The goal of the report was to offer a series of recommendations to improve the field of history and to optimize the process of research for both students and professional historians. They did this by speaking with a few key groups. These include “research support professionals”, i.e. librarians and professionals that work in archives associated with libraries, and academic historians and graduate students.
Rutner and Schonfeld produced four key findings at the end of their research. These are:
“Gaining Intellectual Control”- Historians are struggling to properly organize the growing number of research available to both digitally and physically.
“Discovery and Digitization”- Those interviewed emphasized the value of online finding aids.
“The Library and Archive”- While they were very happy with digitization efforts of librarians, Historians were concerned the librarians do not have a sufficient understand of the sub fields they specialize in and therefore cannot provide enough assistance throughout the research process.
“Support vs. Collaboration”- Increased collaboration between departments, libraries, and services providers was recommended.
The report offers a series of recommendations, all of which I do not have the space to list but I will attempt to include the most relevant ones.
a. Archives should continue to work on digitizing both their materials and their findings aids.
b. Archives should create more tools to facilite the discovery of sources related to the historians topic. In addition they should offer training the Phd student in the use of their archive.
c. Libraries should expand their partnerships with other libraries. This includes expanding what is available to borrow and making staff at partner institutions available to provide aid to historians.
d. Providers of research materials such as Google Books should increase access to foreign language material.
e. Providers also need to address concerns related the quality of the content they digitize.
Overall, I was surprised by how much I related to the concerns expressed by the historians interviewed for this report, espcially since it was published ten years ago. As a graduate student, I rely heavily on digitzed content for my research as I don’t have unlimited reasources to travel. In addtion, I often find myself completely overwhelmed when navigating a new archive with no assistance from librarians or archivists. Despite the continuing development of new digital tools, I still struggle with some of these same issues.
Would you add anything if given the opportunity to be interviewed by the authors of this report? Why or Why not?
Which digital tools do you find yourself using the most? Were they mentioned in the report?
Is there anything you did not agree with in this report?
If this report was to be reproduced ten years later do you think the findings would differ? How so?
This week I get to introduce you to the September 11 Digital Archive. The archive was created in 2002 to “collect, preserve, and present the history of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. ” According to the websites about page the Archive was originally created by the American Social History Project at the City University of New York and the Roy Rosensweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. It’s not clear from the website who’s running it now but it’s hosted through Omeka and it’s collections include visual, audio, and written media.
The homepage has seven different tabs you can use to navigate throughout the website. These include an Items tab, and a Collections Tab which you can use to explore the contents of the archive.
The archive itself is made up of several collections. These include collections from well known institutions such as the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress, in addition to submissions from individual users.
Within each of these sub collections there is a “collection tree” which offers a list of sub collections users can browse through. Each collection has it’s own page which contains a list of all the items the comprise that section of the archive.
The items themselves each have their own page. The page contains the item itself, a title, description, and various reference material such as ID numbers, collection names, what type of media it is.
If you are looking for a specific item you can use the Items tab. Within this tab you can browse through all the items in the entire archive or search for a specific items using keywords, ID numbers, or search through specific collections.
You can sort your results by title, date added, or creator. I found the search feature to be pretty user friendly if you already know the item your looking for. However, if have a broad idea of your subject matter but don’t know the exact item name or reference number searching through the archive can be tricky. Especially because a lot of the items are still untitled or have only an ID number has their title.
All in all, the archive is a very useful tool for anyone researching September 11. It has a wide variety of items and is a great tool for both historians and the general public.
For my digital project, I would like to create an online exhibition chronicling the history of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl as it has been experienced in the United States. Anne Frank has simultaneously become one of the most beloved and controversial accounts of the Holocaust not only in the United States but around the world. My exhibition would chronicle the lifespan of the diary from its first publication in America to its influence in the modern, touching upon its use in schools, its role as one of the commonly banned books, and other media adaptations.
For many students of the United States, Anne Frank’s diary is their first introduction to the events of the Holocaust. It has been adapted into several movies, theater productions, and tv series. It has also proved controversial and is appeared on several banned books lists. My exhibition would touch on its use in classrooms, and why it is relatable to so many. As it continues to appear in conversations about antisemitism, politics, and education I believe it is important to be informed about the history of the book and the girl who wrote it.
My exhibition would be made up of several parts. Firstly, I would do an introductory panel chronicling the discovery of the diary, its first publications, and its introduction in America. Secondly, I would include a gallery showing a number of the different editions that have been published over since the first publication in 1952. Third, I would like to include a map showing some of the places the book has been banned the reasons why. And finally, I would highlight some examples of movie, tv, and theater adaptions throughout the US.
To create this exhibition I would mainly use Omeka or Storymaps and embed a google map to show the locations where the book has been banned. The map would contain pins showing where the book has been banned and brief descriptions of why it was banned. The exhibition would also be comprised of several slideshows and perhaps a few embedded videos of other adaptations. By using a variety of different types of displays I would hope to appeal to a wide variety of users and keep their attention throughout the whole exhibition. My hope for the digital exhibition is that it will not just touch upon the events of the holocaust but also upon the widespread appeal of this specific book.
For my print project, I propose researching the state of digital genealogy tools. I am interested in if these companies present an accurate historical narrative while tailoring the experiences to each user. Do sites like Ancestry and MyHeritage purposely omit the darker parts of the human past to maintain the appearance of genealogy as a fun hobby? Furthermore, can these websites be used by professional historians in any sort of productive manner?
Throughout this project, I will cover three main topics. Firstly, I will look at what user needs these genealogy websites attempt to fill. The three primary needs I will focus on are; creating family trees, DNA testing, and academic uses. Secondly, I will access how accessible these tools are to both the general public and academic historians. And thirdly I will analyze the accuracy of the historical narrative these websites present.
As I mentioned previously, users of genealogy websites have a wide variety of needs and goals. The primary goal of most users is to learn more about their ancestry and create an extensive family tree. Websites like Ancestry facilitate this by providing access to a wide array of documents such as military, immigration, and census records. As part of my research, I will look at how these websites provide access to these documents. Are the digitized versions of these records as easy to understand as print versions? What gets lost in translation when digitizing these records? Additionally, are the fees users pay to access these documents digitally worth it in comparison to visiting local and state archives in person?
The core of my research will focus on how accurate the historical narrative the websites provide is. I will mainly focus on which documentation has been digitized and which has been left out. Specifically, I will look at which pieces of documentation these websites choose to include and which they purposely omit. One example of this is slave records, which are scarce on online genealogy websites. Are these websites purposely leaving this part of history out, or are these records simply harder to digitize?
As American’s become increasingly interested in their unique family background more and more amateur genealogists of turning to online tools such as Ancestry to fill out their family trees. In my research, I hope to uncover to pros and cons of bringing genealogy into the digital sphere. Do these websites paint an accurate picture of American history? Or do they purposely abridge America’s past to make finding one’s family and profitable venture?