This year’s Six-Shooters session is scheduled for Thursday, October 16, 2014 from 2:30-5:00 PM in Salon 1-2 in the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa, Newport Beach, CA. It offers a unique opportunity for WHA members interested in the ways digital technologies are being used in the classroom, in public history, and in research, to discover and discuss these new ideas in an “unconference” manner.
This session, sponsored by the WHA Technology Committee, chaired by Douglas Seefeldt, utilizes a lightning round format that limits each presentation to six minutes and six slides. The session will feature the following presenters and topics. Please join us for stimulating presentations, lively conversations, and valuable networking!
- Jacob K. Friefeld,U. Nebraska-Lincoln, “The History Harvest Project” The History Harvest is a collaborative, community based digital history project and learning initiative that aims to democratize and open history. The project utilizes digital technologies to share the experiences and artifacts of people and local historical institutions. At each harvest, conducted by undergraduate students, community members are invited to share their letters, photographs, objects, and stories, and participate in a conversation about the significance and meaning of their materials. Each artifact is digitally captured and then shared in a web-based archive for general educational use and study. Overall, the History Harvest project aims to raise visibility and public conversation about history and its meaning, as well as provide a new foundation of publicly available material for historical study, K-12 instruction, and life-long learning. I will discuss the History Harvest as a concept, and explain its philosophical grounding. Then, I will briefly outline the harvest process and flexibility of the project, and conclude with a discussion of the History Harvest Archive and the future vision for the project. This short presentation is an invitation to join this growing project in increasing the availability of artifacts that help us to understand our shared history.
- Erik Johnson, George Mason U., “Discover Historic Places Digital Project” The National Park Service, in collaboration with State Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and other local governments, administers a remarkable historic preservation program called the National Register of Historic Places. With advancements in web publishing and social media platforms, there is an opportunity to publicize the country’s historic resources to a wider audience and, in doing so, boosting historic preservation and the communities that are served by the National Register. Discover Historic Places (DHP) is a digital project that aims to work with the public to achieve a better understanding of its history by publishing National Register documentation in a highly accessible format. DHP is built using Omeka and uses the city of Philadelphia as a model for the project. The website organizes around historic themes within the city with the hope that thematic categories, along with map visualization, improve the accessibility of National Register resources for all users.
- Robert Jordan, Colorado State U., “The Lory Student Center Project”In the midst of year-long renovations of Colorado State University’s (CSU) Lory Student Center (LSC) from the fall of 2013-2014, the history department, the Public Lands History Center (PLHC), university administrators, archivists and librarians from the Fort Collins and CSU archives, and undergraduate and graduate students worked collaboratively to produce digital, historical content to be showcased as part of the grand opening of the new student center. This digital content created by the university’s own students provides a link for past, present, and future Rams to their university, creating a sense of pride in the accomplishments of previous generations. The content is composed of twelve physical markers linked to digital, web-based “brand stories.” Working together, students in one undergraduate and one graduate history course (HIST580A1 and HIST480A5) produced narrative content for each of the twelve brand markers, as well as visual digital components for use by the LSC on a website or mobile application. Over the course of a single semester, students utilized a wide range of primary and secondary source materials and digital tools to create a dynamic, digital, public history project, learning new skills and gaining invaluable practical experience.
- Paula Petrik, George Mason U., “Is 3-D Reconstruction Worth It?” In other words, what can we learn as historians from the laborious task of recreating a historical landscape in three dimensions, given that 3-D digital work is labor-intensive and time-consuming? Using Helena, Montana’s Wood Street neighborhood as a case study, this very short presentation illustrates what spatial analysis can contribute to historical analysis. Recreating the neighborhood adds an extra dimension to the history of “capitalists with rooms.” Not only did the Wood Street “soiled doves” create a micro-economy in their area but they also controlled its space both through the buildings’ design and location.
- Jana Remy, Chapman U., “Digital Humanities at Chapman University” Jana will speak about two new Digital Humanities courses offered to graduate students at Chapman University, “An Introduction to DH” and “Humanities Computing.” In addition, she will share insights about serving in an “alt-ac” administrative position on her campus (as the Associate Director of Digital Scholarship), and her role in DH-related research initiatives.
- Rebecca S. Wingo, U. Nebraska-Lincoln, “Can I Get a Witness?: Network Analysis of Homesteaders in Nebraska” In 2014, Fold3.com, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, finished digitizing over 75,000 records of successful homestead claims for the state of Nebraska. In 2009, Richard Edwards called for a reassessment of homesteading in “Changing Perceptions of Homesteading as a Policy of Public Domain Disposal,” arguing that scholars need to approach homesteading through data analysis rather than anecdotal evidence (however compelling it tends to be). Using the newly digitized records, I sampled ten townships over two counties to thoroughly examine and document every homestead claimant, creating the most complete data set of homesteaders to date. I then used Gephi to map the social connections of homesteaders based on the witnesses they listed in their Proof of Posting. Network analysis of homesteaders indicates the prevalence of fraud (spoiler alert: it’s not as much as previous scholars have led us to believe) and traces community formation. Geolocation of the homesteaders further reveals patterns in witnessing that demonstrate the function of neighbors and neighborhoods in the rural west. Ultimately, this project merges qualitative methodologies with close-readings of the documents to produce ground-breaking research on homesteading in Nebraska.
Do you use digital tools in your research, teaching, or public history profession? If so, and you are planning to attend the 2014 Western History Association conference and are willing to share your thoughts and experiences at this session, please contact Doug Seefeldt: wdseefeldt[AT]bsu[DOT]edu and we’ll try to add you to the slate!