Public History Breakout Session Summary and Link Fest

Thanks to all who participated in our public history breakout session. Here is a linkified recap of the session. We talked about two broad topics–teaching digital history to public history students, and institutions using digital tools to connect with the public.

Old School Digital Western History

On the first topic we began with Paula Petrik’s course sites. Petrik led us through the schedule of her History and Cartography graduate class at George Mason. We were all quite impressed, but we also had a discussion about how those of us at smaller institutions and with less technical support simply could not do what she does. We needed some simpler models and tools.

We spoke about using free or open source tools. We looked at Omeka and some of the projects undergrads at the University of Nebraska have made with Omeka. I showed a Google Map of one-room schoolhouses a student of mine made, but we also agreed that Google Maps are not good for showing temporal changes. XX showed us an exciting Florida project, Next Exit History, which gives students the tools to make historic podcasts that then show up in an iPhone app and soon in some Garmin and TomTom GPS systems. I really liked the idea of having students in my courses create public podcasts for a collection that would grow with each course.

Adam Arenson showed us the Hypercities project and talked about some of his experiences getting his students to build GIS datasets. He also showed us his research blog, and told us how research leads and information have come to him by people discovering the blog.

Moving on to institutions using the web, George Miles showed us some of the resources at Yale’s Beinecke Library, from a static digital exhibit he hand coded in the mid-90s to the latest offerings. Much as with Petrik’s syllabi, some attendees thought that Yale’s stuff was great but not something they could duplicate at their much smaller and poorer institutions. We looked at the online photography collections of Humboldt State as an example of smaller institutional libraries mounting digital content. I showed off the audio search feature at the Washington State Archives, which allows keyword searching of MP3 files–(Washington State Digital Archives collections – go to”audio” to use the keyword audio files search.)

Finally I abused my position as a facilitator to flog my blog, Northwest History, where I often discuss the topics at hand.


What did I forget? What do you think of these tools and sites? This blog will remain up until our next meeting in Oakland, let’s use it to keep exchanging ideas between then and now.



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One Response to Public History Breakout Session Summary and Link Fest

  1. Brent Rogers says:

    Good recap Larry. I wanted to add something here as we spoke about what small shops with few resources can do to better their online presence and digital capabilities. There is a terrific online resource called The Interactive Archivist, aimed, obviously, at the archival profession, but I think useful to all public historians looking for tools and tips concerning use and implementation of digital technologies.

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