A few weeks ago, Samir Meghelli, chief curator at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, told our practicum class that the wall of flyers and advertisements near the end of his exhibit was a last-minute decision made just days before the exhibit opened. Meghelli found hundreds of postings, flyers, papers, and advertisements while doing his research on DC neighborhoods for this exhibit. Instead of letting them go another fifty years without seeing day light, he quickly taped them to an empty wall near the end of the exhibit and created a huge collage. I propose to digitize this section from the Anacostia Community Museum’s “A Right to The City” exhibit to make it more accessible to the public and encourage public interpretation. I believe these should be made accessible to the public because it is, in fact, the public’s history. These signs were created and made by the people of DC, for the people of DC.
The audience for this digital project will be the Anacostia community, DC locals and natives, museum goers, and various online researchers.
I would use Cornell University’s “Hip Hop Party and Event Flyers Collection” as a comparison project. Just like Meghelli’s collection, Cornell’s collection was created and collected entirely by hand. Their flyers preserve “raw data from the days when Hip Hop was primarily a live, performance-based culture” in the Bronx. They contain information about early “Hip Hop groups, individual MCs and DJs, promoters, venues, dress codes, admission prices, shout outs and more”. To make these important historical documents more accessible to students, researchers, and enthusiasts, Cornell University Library is in the process of making digitized versions of these flyers freely available to the public.
This project would be enhancing and adding to the Smithsonian’s online collections database. In addition to the digitizing of artifacts and archival accumulation, I propose that a public dialogue be open to the public to discuss and remember the events that the flyers pictured. This dialogue would be open to the public in the form of a blog, using WordPress. Here, guests would be invited to comment, ask questions, convey memories, and remember the stories behind these flyers. This blog will thus create a data resource for the public.
Outreach and Publicity
This digital project will practice outreach and obtain publicity through social media sites. By using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even the Smithsonian websites, the newly digitized collection and associated public blog will be highly publicized. People love to remember features of their past, see long-forgotten artifacts, and revel in memories. Therefore, highly accessible resources, such as Facebook, are the perfect way to advertise this digital project and reach many people.
I will evaluate the project through the amount of activity the blog attracts. If the blog is not receiving many comments or views, I will know that the collection is not being publicized in the right context and that changes need to be made.