Digital Project-Tracking Antisemitism Blog (Micaela Procopio)

The Holocaust is an incredibly well-known event. Now, it’s practically impossible to meet someone who hasn’t picked up a piece of literature on the Holocaust. The United States alone, has over thirty museums, dedicated to the education and awareness of the Holocaust. A core value of the missions many of these Holocaust museums emphasize is the need to understand the root causes of the Holocaust. Historians are continuing to debate this particular topic but in a small takeaway, the causes of the Holocaust are rooted in the desire of power and intolerance. Once the Holocaust and World War II was over, anti-semitism was not. A few short weeks after liberation, Polish Jewish Holocaust Survivors were attacked in Kielce. This anti-semitic attack against Holocaust survivors has not been the only instance of prejudice against Jewish people.

This digital project will seek to create a timeline of anti-semitic incidents in the United States, while offering an interpretation on those events curated by the author of the site, along with outside individuals as contributors. The project will also include a mapping component of anti-semitic incidents that are appearing in the United States. The project will start at one date, so if this project prevails in the duration of this class, then the incidents will start within 1-3 weeks before and then updated on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The site would operate similar to the work done by Elissa Frankel at the United States Holocaust Museum with her research allowing citizen work. The site author would curate all posts by outside contributors making sure they are appropriate to the mission of the site, as well as being insightful and correct in its information. This allows for a digital collaboration and also helps to balance out the many instances of anti-semitism.

Currently, there are two popular digital systems for antisemitism tracking. The first is the AMCHA Initiative Antisemitism Tracker.[1] The AMCHA is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigating, documenting, educating about and combat antisemitisms in institutions of higher learning in America-particularly focusing on high schools and universities.[2] Their new database documents anti-Semitic incidents in state high schools and universities in the past year. The incidents are organized into three categories: targeting Jewish Students and Staff, Antisemitic Expression and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Activities. This is particularly trying to address anti-Semitic incidents that appear to target Jewish students. The second antisemitism tracker is operated by the Diaspora Ministry, with the intent to detect anti-semitic content on the Internet. The software is called Anti-Semitism Cyber Monitoring System.[3] Its purpose tracks antisemitic posts on social media and can detect how widely the posts have been shared, who is sharing the posts and which cities and countries produce the most antisemitic content. The software uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism and monitors posts that are in English, Arabic, French and German on the platforms of Facebook and Twitter.

This digital project will attempt to build a middle ground between these two digital systems. This project will be collaborative and open up interpretation to a variety of users, thus making it easier to analyze and explore different platforms. This project will monitor online media outlets, newspapers, as well as social media. The difference in this project and the prior two systems I’ve mentioned is that the incidents focused on antisemitism are monitored via computer systems and these situations are selected by individuals.

[1] “AMCHA Initiative New Antisemitism Tracker Arrives” AMCHA. https://amchainitiative.org/antisemitism-tracker-arrives-2016

[2] AMCHA is the Hebrew word meaning “Your People” and also connotes “grassroots”, “the masses” and “ordinary people”

[3] “Diaspora Ministry unveils system for tracking online anti-Semitism.” The Times of Israel. Toi Staff. Published 25 January 2018. Accessed 20 February 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/diaspora-ministry-unveils-system-for-tracking-online-anti-semitism/

Digital Proposal: American Revolution Florida Roadtrip

Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival to Florida in 1513, a class trip to St. Augustine, and Henry Flagler and his railroad is the extent of Florida history that I remember learning about in 4th grade. As someone who is heavily interested in colonial and revolutionary America, much of what we learned in school was very New England and Virginia centric. Before coming to college, I had no idea that Florida had even played a role in the revolution until learning about the Battle of Pensacola.

For my digital project I want to use HistoryPin to create an American Revolution roadtrip tour, showing different places around the state of Florida that are associated with the American Revolution. The tour would primarily be focused on Pensacola and St. Augustine, the two capitals of East and West Florida at the time of the revolution, though I am hoping to find other places further south in Florida that I can include as well.

I would want to include places like Fort George in Pensacola or the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum which houses a really cool maritime archaeology program that is currently conducting research on the Storm Wreck, a ship that ran aground while carrying loyalists that were evacuating from Charleston. Each pin on the tour would include a picture of the site and a description of the history behind the site and its role during the American Revolution.

Many of the tours on HistoryPin in the places that I want to focus on, like Pensacola and St. Augustine, surprisingly do not have a specific American Revolution focused tour. While many of the more popular tourist attractions, like the Castillo de San Marcos, are pinned, none of the descriptions I have seen have stressed its revolutionary war history.  In addition, I want to create tour that spans across the state, rather than the local tours that are prevalent on HistoryPin. People that are following the tour can either go on a full roadtrip around Florida, uncovering its connections to the American Revolution, or can just focus on certain sites, depending on the area that they are located.

This HistoryPin tour would be both for local Floridians and tourists alike. Local Floridians would be able to further explore history in their own backyard, especially since revolutionary history that took place in Florida is not widely taught. Many of these places, such as St. Augustine, that have this revolutionary history are already major tourist attractions. Many of these tourists are already interested in the history that Florida has to offer. HistoryPin allows users to view the number of times a collection has been viewed, evaluating the success of the project would be based on the number of views the tour received.

I don’t really have a solid outreach and publicity plan yet, but I plan to use social media to spread the world about the tour. I also want to partner with local history societies and the sites in which my tour includes in order to further spread the word to potential users.

Any feedback would be greatly appreaciated!

Digital Project Proposal- The Historian’s Tour of Gettysburg

If you travel to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, you will find yourself in a city that treasures its historical identity.  It is the location of the northernmost battle of the American Civil War, as well as the site of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.  Those looking to tour the battlefield, and the rest of the town for that matter, have any number of options available to them.  However, of these tours, there are very few that are available for free besides the tour provided by the National Parks Service, and those that do exist online are either hard to find or incomplete.  My planned digital project involves the creation of an online tour of the Battle of Gettysburg and some of the aftereffects & commemoration in Gettysburg on HistoryPin.  By creating this tour, I believe that I can give people a free, non-government organized option that is accessible from a cell phone with an internet connection from the perspective of someone who has studied history.

With this project, I intend to target people looking to tour Gettysburg for the first time, those seeking an alternative to the National Parks Service tour and other paid tours, and perhaps most importantly, those with access to mobile devices with internet access.  I would also like to try to make this accessible to everyone regardless of age or level of education, yet still make it informative for everyone who might be interested in this tour.  Other tours today, as I’ve mentioned, are either government constructed (meaning a potentially skewed narrative is presented), private and paid (making it costly and unclear of the merits of the tour beyond Yelp reviews), or incomplete (as can be seen in almost every HistoryPin tour regarding Gettysburg).  I believe that my project fills a definite hole in the marketplace that would benefit everyone.

Here’s where this gets a little tricky- the specifics of the project itself.  I will begin my project by presenting an introduction page for my tour where I will provide an explanation of the tour, how it works, and a brief description of my credentials as justification for people to feel more secure in their choice of tour.  I want to include at least twenty to twenty-five pins on HistoryPin directly reflecting the location of specific locations related to Gettysburg battlefield.  Included in these sites are historic sites/sites where significant events occurred during the battle, the locations of major memorials, and the sites of significant moments that occurred after the battle that were still related to it.  Along with each pin I intend to provide a picture, either historical or from present-day, and a brief statement regarding the historical significance and justification for the site’s inclusion in the tour based on research that I will conduct.   While I am presently unsure of the sites that I will use in my tour, possibilities that I have considered include, but are not limited to: McPherson Ridge, Little Round Top, The Peach Orchard, The High Water Mark, the Monument to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Devil’s Den, Lee’s Headquarters, Meade’s Headquarters, and various state, army, and regiment memorials. (Unclear about what these sites are? Take the tour once I post it!)

In order to get the word out on this project, I intend to do a ground-level campaign to promote this on a more individual basis and then rely upon word-of-mouth.  I want to attach the link of my tour to a QR code, then put both the link and the code on fliers and post them across Gettysburg, including in significant locations like the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, the Gettysburg Heritage Center Museum, and the Jennie Wade House.  Then I hope to have this tour included in several review sites and possibly make a Facebook page dedicated to the tour that might provide web hits while searching for “Gettysburg Tours” online.

In terms of evaluation of my project, I will rely on the kindness of strangers to provide feedback while also conducting a few observations in the field myself after the project’s completion.  HistoryPin has a feature that shows how many views a tour has and how many people have commented on it.  I will rely on this to see how many views my project has, as well as searching online reviews and Facebook to see if people are discussing it & in what way it is discussed.  At certain intervals (to be determined) after posting my tour and my promotional fliers I will visit Gettysburg National Military Park and see if there are people using their phones for tours rather than following a tour guide and conducting brief field interviews to gauge if they are using my tour and if it is successful.

I think this is what my final project is going to be, so please please PLEASE be critical of this- I want to make sure this is as successful and polished as possible.  Thanks in advance!

Digital Project Proposal: “Where Is Dorsey Foultz?”

Last semester in Research Seminar I began writing what I hope will be a long-term book project. In 1897, Dorsey Foultz, an African American man who lived in an area of Washington, DC known as “the Camp” shot and killed another resident. He was able to flee the scene before any police arrived, and, though there were frequent supposed Foultz sightings, he managed to completely evade capture. Dorsey Foultz became a cultural phenomenon and sort of minstrel figure in DC and across the country, symbolizing the incompetence of the newly professionalized police and general distrust of the government’s ability to serve the public. Foultz’s story is a fascinating and rich case study of race, policing, print culture, and public attitudes at the turn of the century.

Because the Foultz story has so much to do with space and place, it seems only natural to map it. Foultz sightings–sincere or otherwise–covered a huge geographic area, including much of the United States and parts of Europe and Africa. I would like to create an interactive visual of these locations that would basically act as a companion to the book and provide details on each sighting in a way the text would not.

I believe the best way to do this would be through Google Maps’s My Maps feature. People have used this tool to create such varied custom maps as “Bigfoot, UFO & More Sightings” and “Shipwrecks” as well as historic and cultural tours of cities. Using My Maps would allow people to interact with my map within an already recognizable format and understand historic sighting locations in the context of present day neighborhoods and landmarks.

Because the Foultz sightings are in the form of newspaper articles, I would ideally provide a static link to the digitized article or page with each map point. My Maps allows images as well, so if it is possible to find a contemporary photograph or fire map excerpt showing the location that could be included. Another My Maps feature that will be particularly useful is the ability to draw shapes, as some sightings are vague areas (e.g. Tenleytown) instead of particular locations (e.g. Wesley Seminary) and would allow me to provide better information than choosing a centralized point on the map.

In a perfect world with unlimited time and funds, I would love to be able to add a 19th century map overlay that could be toggled on and off. However, this would be beyond my ability and the scope of this project at this time, especially as it would likely require cobbling together several fire maps.

For the purposes of this semester, time constraints will probably require plotting only some of the Foultz sightings, since there are well over 100. I plan to choose ones that involved purported contact with the public or police or happened in a particularly interesting or far-flung locale. I may also try to color-code or assign symbols to differentiate time periods.

One day (many years from now), I hope this map could be refined and linked to as a resource for those reading or teaching the book, as well as those interested in DC history or turn-of-the-century American history.

 

Digital Proposal: Alternative Monuments Tour

Washington, D.C. is a city steeped in history and blanketed in monuments, memorials, and public historical markers of all kinds. Thousands of locations across the District have been marked on HistoryPin, and dozens of tours have been created. It stands to reason that it has all pretty much been covered, right?

As it turns out, that’s not the case at all. While the Washington Monument has 16 pins, ranging from historical images to a 2005 family photo in front of the monument, lesser-known sites like the African American Civil War Memorial have no presence at all. My proposal is to remedy that situation by researching and creating a tour of historic D.C. monuments and memorials that are off the beaten path, providing some background about what they commemorate and the context in which they were created.

Since there are dozens if not hundreds of places in D.C. that fit this description, my tentative plan is to narrow the scope by limiting my tour to sites that are at or very close to metro stops. Tying the tour to the public transit system will give it some structure and also make it easier for users to navigate from site to site, or to just fund a single point of interest in an area where they will already be. So far, I have a handful of ideas for stops that would fit this concept, none of which currently appear on HistoryPin:

  • The African American Civil War Memorial (U Street station)
  • The GAR Monument and the Temperance Fountain (Archives station)
  • The Walt Whitman Civil War quote (Dupont Circle metro)

For each stop, I would give some background on what the monument or marker commemorates, when and why it was created, and ideally some historic photos to illustrate the point. Some would absolutely require deeper explanations than others because they have less contextual information on site. It’s pretty easy to tell what the African American Civil War Memorial is about just by reading the plaques and looking around, but that Whitman quote has no additional detail and I remember having to Google it when I first moved here to find out its fascinating backstory.

Ideally, this tour would reach an audience of tourists and locals alike. Because the focus is not on familiar tourist sites, it should have some crossover appeal between those two groups, or at least the subset of those two groups that is interested in history and knows about HistoryPin. There are already a number of D.C. tours on HistoryPin that have proven popular, ranging from a March on Washington collection with 19,000 views to a tour of the night Abraham Lincoln died with 600 views. The view count provides a convenient means to analyze the success of this project as well – it gives easy, tangible evidence of how many people are looking at this tour.

For outreach and publicity, social media will certainly play a key role. I’d like to make connections with local history groups to ask them to share the tour with their social media followings. There’s the Historical Society of Washington, of course, but also a number of smaller, neighborhood historical societies that might be easier to make initial connections with, especially if one of the stops on the tour is in their area.

Do you have a favorite monument that doesn’t get enough attention? Do you think I should scrap the metro stop idea and structure this another way? I would love to hear your thoughts!