Final Course Reflection

Hello class Ricky here, I would like to begin this course reflection by giving a big thanks to all of you for providing the class with great discussions throughout the semester and keeping us all engaged in the new material that we learned about every week. I enjoyed learning more about digital platforms that are available nowadays to present information and engage with the public. I learned many new things from the readings and I found myself interested in digital analysis tools like Google n-gram that allow us to understand the past in such a convenient manner that makes it fun. I learned what a digital archive actually was and I had no idea how much they had changed the way research is conducted nowadays. I knew Audacity before taking this course but I still found it interesting that we talked about it. I enjoyed using Story maps and I think I’ll use more of it in the future as well.

I had an absolute blast writing blog posts for the course because I believe it creates an atmosphere of communication in which we can all talk to each other about the progress we have made in our projects and comment on what we like and what we would like to see. I would like to give a big thanks to professor T. Owens as well because he has done a terrific job with managing the class, and he is a great guy with a good understanding of how to properly run an online course. By no means did I find the course work easy I must say. I found the course to be pretty challenging but just challenging enough for me to persevere as a competent student. I feel like the knowledge I have learned throughout this semester has truly upgraded my capabilities in terms of how I do research and how I go about planning projects. It has been an honor and I am truly proud of the work I have done.

It is hard to believe the semester has come to an end. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors as students, teachers, and academics. I hope you all enjoy the project I have to offer and farewell.

Project Reflection, Poster Presentation, and Course Reflections

Hi everybody! It’s hard to believe that the semester is already wrapping up. When I first set out to do this project, I thought that I would only discuss the findings that I procured from the primary source documents themselves. However, as the project progressed, I recognized that it wasn’t just these documents that needed explaining, but also the digital analytical tools that I was utilizing. Each tool presented its own benefits and drawbacks, and as I uncovered these aspects of the tools, I needed to redefine the scope of my project, to the point that a discussion of these tools, and how they impacted my findings and methodology, required explaining in their own section.

Paradoxically, my findings were both expected and unexpected. On the one hand, I did expect that the concept of “State Rights” would primarily be utilized in the South. However, I did not anticipate that the number of Northerners who used the term would be so few. Even after the Supreme Court released its decision on Dred Scott, which essentially extended slavery to the free states, Northern references to the term were outnumbered nearly 4:1 by Southern references.

The answer to why people invoked “State Rights” was less surprising to me. Being that the term was referenced most frequently during “flashpoint” years, when political controversy and federal action occurred, it became apparent that the term was used whenever federal action was deemed injurious to individuals, and not as a part of regular political philosophy. This would explain why references to the term appear overwhelmingly during years like 1832, 1834, and 1857, and why it would appear so rarely during the rest of the years that were examined.

As far as Americans’ understanding of what “State Rights” meant to them, it would seem that for many Southerners and Democrats, it was a shield against any federal action that was not expressly beneficial to them. For instance, during the Nullification Crisis, the tariff, which was mainly meant to benefit the factories of the North, was deemed unconstitutional, even though it was within the rights of the Congress to create such a law. For many Northerners and Whigs/Republicans, the concept of “State Rights” was seen as a tool used by Southerners to suppress political activity, especially activity originating in the North.

This class has been incredibly useful for learning about the tools and methodology that can be employed in history-making. Without this class, I might not have learned about tools like Google Ngram and Chronicling America until much later, and tools like these will help me make future projects run more efficiently. Additionally, reading articles and books on digital history and methodology have presented me with a different perspective on the nature of historical inquiry, and made me reconsider the kinds of questions that I should be asking.

It’s been great getting to know all of you throughout this semester, and I hope to see you in some of my future classes!

My project poster.

And here is a link to the current draft of my print project paper:

Final Project and Course Reflections

In setting out to create this digital resource, I wanted to create a map that could expand the material on the internet about American Indian boarding schools. From my own research, the materials mostly consist of digitized primary sources, a limited amount of monographs and academic articles, scattered news articles, and other materials here or there. I came up with the idea to do this last semester while researching boarding schools for research seminar, and it has been exciting to see this come to fruition. There are still many additions I will add to this project, however, as I come to find more and more out about American Indian boarding schools. My hope is to continue to grow this project — as it is more than a simple class project — it is a topic I’m extremely passionate about.

To me, this map helps the history of American Indian boarding schools to become more accessible to not only those who are interested already, but also to others who stumble upon them. This thought was driven home during our conversations in class this last week on opening and expanding scholarly conversations. It is important to create digital resources that not only give historical context to the materials, but also to create digital resources that are accessible themselves. Many people are not familiar with searching an online archive, but would still want to be engaged with history and I believe that this map is a doorway for that.

Project poster:

In this course, it has really opened my eyes to all of the different digital resources at our fingertips. Digital history is an expansive field and is ever-changing. In my professional position, I work with digital content, but this class has helped me deep dive into understanding it and thinking deeper about it — especially from the perspective of the audience rather than just from my own. I think this course has really taught me how to be a better public historian — and has given me a lot of tools to better myself and my practice.

How Historical Storytelling Works on YouTube: An Analysis Project Poster + Final Draft

Hi everyone! Here is my poster:

For my print project, it was very interesting to look back on some of the YouTube channels I’m familiar with a new and analytical perspective. I enjoyed analyzing the comment sections of the videos and sensing the audience’s reaction towards the content. I found that the “living history” and historical reenactment videos often bring a more intimate and personable experience to the audience, and that more people will share their stories of their own family history in the comment sections. The audience also responds very well to well researched history contents; the more historical details and references are given in the video, the more likely people will leave comments sharing their own historical knowledge and resources. I also learned a lot about YouTube as a platform from the project by reflecting on its roles in the development of history-related channels. Both “The YouTube Reader” and “YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture” gave fascinating accounts on the evolution of YouTube itself and how people gradually perceived it as a legitimate social media platform. From this analysis, I see great value in creating educational history content on YouTube and the potential impact these videos have on the wider public. 

I really enjoyed learning about digital history together with everyone in the class this semester! This course gave me so much insight into different digital platforms and tools to present and analyze history. After looking through everyone’s digital projects utilizing tools such as TimelineJS and Storymap, I feel very inspired to explore these tools deeper in the future! I learned a lot from the conversations we had in class over the semester. Many of them gave me new ideas and made me think more about my own project. I began to reflect on the importance of historical accuracy on entertainment platforms discussed in the Video Games Week, and I think back on what kind of historical content is being archived on YouTube from the discussion on what is accessible online from the Digital Archives Week. Overall, I think this class provided me with useful resources and information on how to reflect, analyze, and appreciate the processes that go into digital history in the future!

Here’s my final print project:

Project Reflections: Mapping the Pearl Incident

Hi everyone! Thanks for such a great semester. I’ve really enjoyed learning about so many different resources and the mysterious machinations of the digital world. I’ve definitely come away with a better understanding of the ways that digital media can be used to provide historical context and engage with history.  I’m also excited to see how everyone’s final projects!

As for my digital project, I’m excited to share the Pearl Incident StoryMap that I’ve been creating over the semester. Last semester, I began researching the Pearl incident, which was one of the largest attempted escape of enslaved people in the United States. For my research, I focused on the perspective of one of the fugitives named Ellen Stewart. With this project, I wanted to learn more about the seventy-six other fugitives and their experiences after the attempted escape.

Throughout this project, I struggled with figuring out the best way to frame their stories visually on map to give a sense of both the places and the distances that individuals traveled to obtain freedom from slavery. From my research, I piecemealed the places that several of the fugitives would have traveled during the escape on the Pearl as well as after they were caught and returned to Washington, D.C. Since their stories are not widely available online, I wanted to document as many of the fugitives’ stories as possible; however, I soon realized that telling a story about several individuals through a single map might have been a little too ambitious, and that the narrative might be difficult to follow.

I eventually settled on using ArcGIS and StoryMaps to give general historic context about the Pearl incident, the fugitives’ experiences being resold into the slave trade, and their pathways to freedom. Instead of choosing the individual narratives to highlight, I thought it would be best for the reader to choose for themselves. I created several layers of “Map Notes” and color-coded pins depending on the information that the pin provided: before the Pearl incident, involvement in the slave trade, and pathways to freedom. This way, the pins carry the majority of the narrative information that the reader can explore as they explore the map. Unfortunately, this solution may not be the most intuitive for the reader. The pins on the maps carry a lot of information, and I am a little worried that they are difficult to navigate. I tried to include guidelines for using the maps in the text; however, I’m not sure if they help or hinder the audience’s experience navigating the maps. Nevertheless, the process of reaching decisions about the current framework of the StoryMap has helped me realize the benefits and challenges of combining narrative and mapping technology.

Although I am still not entirely happy with the way that the final section, called “Aftermath” is laid out (and I’ll probably do a little more tweaking before turning in my final project), I am glad that I decided to do this project. I have learned a lot about creating a digital resource, and I feel better equipped to tackle digital history projects in the future. Nevertheless, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Here is the current iteration of my project!

And here is my poster!