WordPress is a free, open-source service that is “designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use.” The company states that its basic version is “simple and predictable so you can easily get started.” Additionally, the company believes in “democratizing publishing and the freedoms that come with open source.” WordPress can be used for blogs, newsletters, videos, stores, and other businesses. Because of these qualities, WordPress is widely used by people for their websites. For instance, this course’s blog is run by WordPress.

While WordPress is free, there are also ways to upgrade your website with paid plans, which range from $4-$45 per month. The paid plans offer a range of options for the website, which might fit your plan depending on what your site’s purpose is. Since the basic version of WordPress is free, anyone from an academic historian to a museum curator to a person who is just wants to share their passion for history can utilize the site without spending money.

Before you create your website, WordPress asks you questions in creating your website. First, it asks for your domain, which is free for the first year. This is an important deadline to keep in mind. Other questions the service asks is what plan you want to subscribe to, what your goals for the website are, what your website is about, to create your blog name and tagline, and to choose your design. An interesting feature is that you can see what your site would look like on other screens, such as on a smartphone, tablet, and computer.

After you set up your free account, WordPress takes you to the “Reader” page. Here, you can follow your favorite sites, track your likes, and keep up-to-date with discussions you commented on and tags you’re following. These features are great when following blogs so that you do not miss out on the latest post and discussion.

To write on your page, you click the “Write” button with the feather pen in the upper-righthand corner. It will take you then to the page where you can write and edit your latest post.

On this page, you can edit your latest post, such as creating your title and adding textual and photographic information. To make the post aesthetically pleasing, you can edit the color of the text, the background, edit font and its size, and the spacing of the letters under the “Block” tab on the right side. Additionally, you can add links to your information, such as what I did in the first paragraph of this post. For historians, this is great as you can site other people’s projects, online sources and exhibits, and other virtual resources in the text without the messy footnotes and endnotes.

On the “Post” tab on the right side, you can make the post Public, Private (meaning for the other administrators and editors on the website to see), and Password Protected, meaning that anyone with the password can access the website. These privacy settings are great resources as some people do not want their blog to be open to the public for various reasons, while many people do want to share their website with the public. Additionally, you can set the time and date that you want to publish your post, whether that’s immediately or hours later or a week later. Other features include: editing your page template, creating and sorting your posts into categories, creating tags for your website, inserting a featured image, writing an excerpt of your post, and allowing discussion, such as turning on the comments section.

As one is writing their post, pop-ups will appear on WordPress that are easy and accessible to use. One of these includes editing the paragraph block, text alignment, bolding and italicizing the test, including a link, and other features in the drop down menu and in the three dots that can be seen below.

The drop-down menu has features that include highlighting, inserting code, inserting an image, strikethrough text, and super- and sub-script. The three dots feature tools that include copying the block paragraph or image, duplicate text or image, inserting an image or text or something else, moving the paragraph block, and deleting the paragraph block.

If you click on the plus button – which starts another paragraph block – you can see other tools that pop up easily for convenience as you are writing your post. These features include creating a new paragraph block, adding an image, adding a heading, creating a gallery, creating a list, and inserting a quote. These pop-ups – while some can see them as cumbersome and obstructive – are highly helpful in popping up right as you are writing for easy convenience.

In editing your post, I would recommend that you save as often as possible. There have been instances where WordPress has crashed on me and closed, so I would highly recommend saving often. Also in the upper-righthand corner, you can see a preview of your post and can publish your post.

Another feature is the green icon in the upper-righthand corner of the screen. It is called JetPack, and it allows you to share your post on your social media platforms. This is a great feature as you can alert your family, friends, and followers about your post. Additionally, this would be a great tool for public social media accounts so that people are aware of your latest post in case they do not have alerts set up for your post.

Overall, I think WordPress is a vital tool to use in the digital age if you want to connect and spread your findings on the Internet if you are interested in making a blog or newsletter. WordPress is user-friendly, which explains why so many people utilize it. Additionally, the feature with sharing on social media platforms is an advantage as it shares your findings with large audiences and possibly attract people to your site if they did not find it on the Internet. However, if you are looking to create a digital exhibit, I would recommend Omeka.net, which is another free resource, as it was created for that purpose. For historians, museum professionals, and public history practitioners who want to share stories and research, WordPress is a great, cost effective tool to utilize in sharing that with the large audience of the Internet.

-Meredith Jackson


Omeka.net is a “web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits.” Users can also publish their work on services that work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In an increasingly digital world, this is a highly helpful platform for museums, historians, universities, public history practitioners, etc. to utilize in showcasing their findings to large audiences.

While Omeka.net requires a paid subscription, users can try the service on a free trial to see if it is right for them. Signing up for the trial does not require to input any payment methods. The free trial allows users to operate one website and have 500 MB of storage. While there is no deadline for the free trial to end, users can upgrade to one of the four paid plans – which range from $35-$1,000 per year – if they want more storage, operate more than one website, more plugins, and more themes. The plans also detail who those plans would best suit them, such as the priciest plan, Platinum Plan, being suggested for institutions.

After creating one’s account, users can create their site. It will ask users to name their website and what theme they would like to use. For me, I named my site “Little Known Histories” as I want to share stories that are not commonly known and ones that have been historically obscured over time.

Next, users are directed to their dashboard, which shows their recent items and collections added. While one can add Items and Collections using their respective tabs on the left side of the screen, users can also click to add a new item or new collection on the dashboard as well.

For the Items page, one can view the items already added. Users can add new items, show details of the items already added, and search items that were previously added. I used a photograph I found of St. Elizabeths Hospital, which shows a pond at the hospital in the 1900s, as an example.

In adding an item, the process is simple. When adding an item, Omeka utilizes Dublin Core, which is a metadata element set, for all of Omeka’s users’ records. In the “Dublin Core” tab, users can upload the source, as well as add various information in the spaces for labels and further information. The labels include adding the source’s title, subject, description, creator, source, publisher, date, contributor, rights, relation, format, language, type, identifier, and coverage. The labels right above the text box have their descriptions so that anyone – whether they are familiar with inputting historical data or new to it – know what they mean. To further describe the source, users can create tags for the source under the “Tags” tab for virtual visitors to search and find the easier on the website, especially if the visitors are researching on the internet for specific information.

In the “File” tab, users can upload file they want to be displayed on their website, such as a photograph or an oral history interview. Omeka.net states that users can add text, moving images, oral histories, sound, still images, emails, links, a person, services, websites, events, lesson plans, interactive resources, software, 3D objects, and datasets. Users can see this in the “Item Type Metadata” tab and select the category that item fits under. For the total number of sources in each category, users can click on the “Item Types” on the left side of the screen. When creating an online exhibit, it is helpful having a service where you can upload multiple different types of sources instead of just one or a few of them.

For Collections, the layout of the page is the same as the items in that it shows all of the collections you have created. The information also details who the contributors are – which is important to know when working in groups – date the collection was created, and how many items are in the collection. For this example, I named my collection St. Elizabeths Hospital.

The process for adding a collection is the same as adding an item as the Collections page also utilizes Dublin Core and the same descriptive labels.

It is important to remember that items should be uploaded first and then added to the collection. This can be done by clicking on the “Edit” button on the item and add it to the collection they want to on the right side of the screen.

Users can also search the tags they created when they click on “Tags” on the left side of the screen. There are instructions included of how to read, edit, and delete a tag. On the bottom of the screen, it shows all of the tags the user has created. In this example, I added the photograph of the pond to the St. Elizabeths Hospital collection.

Other important features are located in the top right-hand side of the webpage. The “Plugins” tab shows that user what plugins are available to them in their current Omeka plan. In the free trial, users have access to COinS, CSV Import, Exhibit Builder, LC Suggest, Locale, OAI-PMH Harvester, Omeka Api Import, Shared Self Link, and Simple Pages. If people are unfamiliar with these plugins, there are descriptions of each to see if this is something the user would find useful for their project and install on Omeka.net. Under the “Appearance” tab, users can edit the themes of their webpages using the themes available to them under their current plan. The “Users” tab allows one to add more users, which is highly helpful when working in groups whether in class or an institution.

Overall, Omeka.net is a free, user-friendly tool that is great in using to share findings with the large audiences on the Internet, especially for an online exhibit. If you want to create a blog, I would recommend WordPress. Omeka.net under the “Showcase” tab – which is on the same introductory screen as the pricing when you first sign up for your account – shows different websites that have been created for different purposes, such as one for mapping data and one for an oral history archive. If you are creating a site with a similar purpose and/or project in mind, one can peruse that website to gain some tips and tricks for their own, new website. This website also has a multitude of tools and plugins that can help meet the purpose of your website’s goals and organize it clearly for visitors. Additionally, a virtual platform allows people to share this information with a larger audience than it would if it was at a museum or in an academic paper. It is a great resource for people to use who work in museums – from small to larger ones – and those who like history, whether they are professional historians or someone who does not work in the history field but is passionate about a certain subject, such as local history, to create an online exhibit for.

– Meredith Jackson

Meet Meredith Jackson

Ever since her grandmother gifted her a book about Dolley Madison at the age of eight, Meredith Jackson has been interested in history. That love of history led her to various family trips to historic sites and to the East Coast for school. Originally from Illinois, Meredith graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2021 with an AB in History and Government with a certification in Material Culture & Public History from the National Institute of American History and Democracy (NIAHD). She is currently in her last semester in the MA Public History program at American University. Her research interests include African American history, eighteenth and nineteenth century American history, historic memory, and D.C. history.

Additionally, Meredith’s interest in history led her to various opportunities. Throughout her four years of undergrad, she was an Office Assistant at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. She enjoyed making connections with fellow history nerds and learning more about the publication field. Meredith took further advantage of studying in Williamsburg by interning at Colonial Williamsburg. In Summer 2019, she participated in an archaeological excavation at the Robert Carter House. While she disliked the humidity of Tidewater Virginia summers, Meredith enjoyed finding hundreds of artifacts with her classmates. In 2020, Meredith interned in Colonial Williamsburg’s Department of Historical Research and Digital History. She researched colonial Virginia laws pertaining to enslaved people, Native Americans, and women. For a person who first visited Colonial Williamsburg as a child, Meredith is grateful that she had the ability to gain public history experiences at one of the most prominent living history museums.

Other research opportunities allowed Meredith to explore stories that have been historically obscured in previous scholarship of William & Mary and D.C. In Summer 2021, she received the Gaither-Johnson Summer Research Grant to research William & Mary’s African American history for a walking tour for The Lemon Project, which is a research project dedicated to uncovering the university’s African American history. Meredith enjoyed combing through university records and getting to know the Special Collections staff, who were also extremely helpful during her research projects. Most recently, Meredith was the Summer 2022 History & Cultural Resources Intern at the Department of Homeland Security, tasked with uncovering the history of the department’s headquarters, St. Elizabeths Hospital. Her favorite part was researching at multiple institutions, such as the DC History Center, National Archives in D.C. and Maryland, and the Library of Congress.

Meredith is very proud of her undergraduate honors thesis, “The Enslaved People and the Tylers Too: Why Slavery in Public History Is Imperative.” The thesis uses Sherwood Forest Plantation, the home of President John Tyler, to showcase why historic sites with connections to slavery need to convey to visitors that side of history as it tells a fuller story of not only the site itself, but of American history. The thesis details how Tyler and his family perpetuated slavery and the Lost Cause, and tells the stories of the enslaved people who lived and labored at Sherwood Forest. Meredith’s thesis received Highest Honors from William & Mary’s History Department. She worked with a direct descendant of President Tyler and is grateful for her help and in sharing the stories of the enslaved people on Sherwood Forest Plantation’s new website. It was during her thesis Meredith realized she wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Public History.

At American University, Meredith has enjoyed learning about the Public History field and its methods and practices that help uncover stories that have been largely overlooked, such as the World War II history of St. Elizabeths Hospital and the history of the historically African American cemetery Woodlawn in Washington, D.C. In her Practicum class, Meredith was part of the group that examined African American sanctuaries in America, and she researched contraband camps during the Civil War, particularly the recruitment of U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) servicemen from those camps. The project was part of a larger exhibit called “Nation of Sanctuaries,” which is curated by Dr. Sam Vong at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Additionally at AU, Meredith had the opportunity to take Oral History. She had always been interested in oral histories since she examined many of them for her honors thesis. It was fascinating to not only learn about oral history theories and practices, but also to use those theories and practices when conducting her own oral history interviews. From the MA Public History program, Meredith hopes to graduate with knowledge of the many facets of public history, such as conducting oral histories, understanding different digital platforms to convey history to wider audiences online, and understanding the intersections of public history with other fields.

Meredith enrolled in Digital History Theory and Method to gain more experience and practice with the digital sphere. She has some experience through an internship and a previous graduate class. In Summer 2019, she interned at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois, which is the home of Supreme Court Justice David Davis. At the mansion, Meredith was in charge of the social media of the historic site, garnering hundreds of new followers with her posts about the mansion’s residents and its current docents. During her graduate program, Meredith took Black Digital History with Dr. Crystal Moten. In the class, Meredith learned about how digital historians are endeavoring to balance the archives with more documents pertaining to African American history, how African American activists use social media to spread their message, and the ethics of digital history. It was fascinating to learn the past of digital history and in analyzing the effects of digital projects. By taking Digital History Theory and Method, Meredith hopes to gain more hands-on experience with different digital platforms and how they can be utilized for public history projects, making them more accessible to the general public. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions are incorporating digital projects, so she wants to be prepared for those projects as she starts her last semester of graduate school.

Outside of the classroom, Meredith currently works as the Fraternity & Sorority Life Graduate Assistant at American University, aiding in advising the university’s fraternities and sororities. She is member of Phi Mu Fraternity. Outside of her job and classwork, she can be found catching up with friends and taking advantage of living in Washington, D.C., such as visiting the numerous museums and historic sites and grabbing coffee at local cafes.