Gianna May Sanchez: Creating a Public-Facing Website for Hispanic Legacies of Route 66

Hello! I am happy and honored to be included among a group of fantastic scholars all participating in the Digital Six Shooter panel at this year’s WHA! I am Gianna May Sanchez, a pre-candidate Ph.D. history student at the University of Michigan. My research and interests primarily focus on the history of healthcare and folk medicine in the 20th century U.S. West, specifically examining experiences of reproduction and medicine for women and Latinx communities in the region. My work also includes public history and digital humanities projects, which range from short term endeavors (as featured in my Six Shooter presentation) to long term contracted positions with organizations like the Smithsonian Latino Center. My presentation, “Rerouting the Mother Road: Creating a Public-Facing Website for Hispanic Legacies of Route 66” will focus on a 2017 digital project with the National Park Service and Latino Heritage Internship Program about the history of Route 66 in New Mexico.

The digital project, a website titled “Sharing Our History: The Hispanic Legacy of Route 66 in New Mexico” is forthcoming and currently under review by the NPS National Trails Intermountain Region. This website highlights the Hispanic narrative of Route 66 in New Mexico, an underrepresented story within the mythicization of the Mother Road. The site also promotes a space for community members to share their stories and learn about the specifically New Mexican Hispanic experience that defined life on and along Route 66.

My participation in this project began in 2017 as an intern with the Latino Heritage Internship Program. Over the course of the summer, I worked with the research team, Angélica Sánchez-Clark, Frank Norris, and Kaisa Barthuli, to synthesize a cohesive narrative and develop a public website. This process incorporated historical analysis and interpretation of primary and secondary records with considerations toward audience engagement, accessibility, multimedia formatting, and copyright. The resulting guiding methodology leveraged museum interpretation and public scholarship best practices within postcolonial historical frameworks. Parts of Route 66—and other travel corridors in New Mexico—pass through historical and contemporary indigenous lands. A portion of the road further followed El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a passageway widely used for Spanish colonization, trade, and movement throughout the region. The overarching narrative of “Sharing Our Histories” contends with this past, while also illuminating the lived experience of residents through oral histories, written accounts, and images.

On a more tangible level, my presentation will address the design and development decisions that influenced the creation of this site. The site platform, StoryMaps, provided a unique space to combine visual imagery with scrolling, narrative-based text. This interactive experience, while linear, provides multiple approaches for site visitors to engage with the material, from descriptive text to audio sound bites of New Mexico residents discussing their experience growing up and working on Route 66. With this in mind, I hope to address the multifaceted aspects that went into the development of this project from initial research stages to synthesizing a cohesive narrative to design and accessibility choices in the digital platform. Looking forward to the panel, and I hope to see you all there!

Sarah Salter: Toward Periodicals Canon(s)

Hello! I am Sarah Salter, and I am an Assistant Professor of 19th-Century Multiethnic US literatures at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. This week at the Western History Association Conference, I will be sharing some collaborative work with historical periodicals. For the past few years, I have been working with colleagues across the US on related events, panels, and digitization projects that seek to build conversation across fields and areas in periodical studies. Last spring, the American Antiquarian Society helped us digitize a selection of periodicals from migrant, indigenous, and colonized communities as part of their GIGI digital database. Through the process of curating these examples and contributing them to the wider newspaper database of the AAS, my colleagues and I have begun to explore the practical and theoretical considerations of creating a teaching canon of 19th-Century periodicals. At the conference’s Six-Shooter presentation, I will offer a brief overview of the digitization process and some preliminary suggestions for thinking through a “canon” drawn from, and intended to highlight, a wide diversity of formal, historical, political, and linguistic perspectives. This project asks us to consider the purposes and limitations of the canon’s presumption of commonality.

The Digital Stephen F. Austin Papers

I’ll be presenting the Digital Stephen F. Austin Papers (, an ongoing effort to build a digital scholarly edition of the surviving correspondence of Stephen F. Austin.  During the first half of the nineteenth century, Austin served as the most prominent American land agent working with the government of Mexico to bring colonists from the United States into the Texas borderlands. During those decades, most Americans contemplating a move to Mexico wrote letters to Austin seeking information.  At the same time, Mexican officials with questions or concerns about this migration of Americans into Mexico’s northern frontier also wrote to Austin seeking advice.  As a result, Austin’s voluminous correspondence offers a remarkable window into the ideas and movements of both Mexicans and Americans during the 1820s and 1830s.  Those movements mattered enormously because the American migration into Mexico spearheaded by Austin led, ultimately, to a war between the United States and Mexico in 1846-48 that brought the modern American Southwest into the U.S. and redefined the border between the two countries in ways that continue to reverberate today.  To tell that story, the project has thus far transcribed and digitized more than 2,100 letters written by nearly 700 people living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, all of which are now available online in the project’s prototype database.

The driving goal of the DAP project, however, is to pair those original sources with innovative analytical research tools that will enable users to discover meaningful patterns scattered across the corpus of historical documents. To that end, the project is incorporating a variety of natural language processing tools and data visualization techniques into the DAP search interface — providing users new ways to discover patterns hidden in the writings of hundreds of men and women living along the shared edges of the United States and Mexico.

Jessica Nowlin: 300th Anniversary Celebration of Béjar: Historical GIS (hGIS) Story Map Projects

Hello all! My name is Jessica Nowlin, I am a GIS specialist at the Center for Archaeological Research and a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Classics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I will be speaking on the 300th Anniversary Celebration of Béjar: Historical GIS (hGIS) Story Map Projects, which was created as a collaboration between the Bexar County Heritage and Parks Department and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Working jointly with John F. Reynolds (Department of History) and Clinton M. McKenzie (Center for Archaeological Research), we created a series of interactive ESRI Story Maps to tell the history of Bexar County from the earliest evidence of human occupation until the end of Spanish rule in 1821.

In telling this story, we endeavored to produce an inclusive history that took into account men and women of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. This meant not starting from the arrival of Spanish explorers and missionaries in the early 18th century, but looking at the long span of indigenous settlement in the Bexar County region, exploring their cultural and societal changes over nearly 10,000 years of history. Additionally, when telling the story of Spanish settlement in Bexar County, we wanted to make publicly accessible the numerous archival documents, early maps, and historical archaeological data that could provide a more human connection to the earliest European settlers of San Antonio de Béjar.

In an effort to make these stories visually engaging, we centered each story around material that could be mapped and visualized within an online, interactive GIS map. These stories incorporated a wide variety of archaeological data, primary historical sources, digitized archival records, and 3D artifacts and historical reconstructions. While much of the behind the scenes work done to create these stories can be used as the basis for scholarly publications, the primary goal of this project was to make the prehistory and history of Bexar County widely available to members of the local population, visitors, and anyone interested in the history of this region.

Saara Kekki: Network Analysis as a Tool to Discovering Community Patterns at a Japanese American Incarceration Camp

My North American Studies dissertation (currently under peer review by an external committee), Life at Heart Mountain: A Dynamic Network Model of a Japanese American Incarceration Community during World War II, explores the networks of Japanese Americans at the Heart Mountain incarceration (internment) camp in Wyoming. Using “big” data collected by US authorities during the war as well as traditional historical sources, I employ network analysis to study how the camp community was structured, how it evolved, and how some of its members expressed their acceptance of or resistance to incarceration.

In my presentation, I will bring forth some visual depictions of the networks and what they tell us about “loyalty,” “assimilation,” and “resistance.”

The Global Idaho Podcast: Using Adobe Audition to Examine DACA in Southeast Idaho

Kyler Miller & Les Miller

Hello everyone! I am Les Miller and my classmate who will be joining me in the presentation is Kyler Miller. We are both graduate students in the Historical Resources Management program at Idaho State University. My work right now involves cattle ranching at the Fort Hall Reservation and Kyler’s involves the use of the Star of David as Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust. The Historical Resources Management program at Idaho State University focuses heavily on digital skills.

The aim of our project was to publish a serial podcast that centered on DACA and immigration policy in Southeast Idaho. We interviewed multiple experts on immigration from around the country, activists, immigrant entrepreneurs, and community members to paint a picture of DACA and immigration. We used Adobe Audition to formulate the episodes and a lot of teamwork to finally get it done. Us four graduate students worked our tails off to complete this and we are proud of it.

Andrew Offenburger: SourceNotes and the Digitizing of Daniel Boone (with Raphael Folsom and John Stewart)

Greetings, all! In San Antonio I will present on a new system called SourceNotes (, an online platform that serves two purposes: it helps with the teaching of research to students at all levels, and it facilitates collaboration among scholars working on large research projects. Raphael Folsom and John Stewart (both of the University of Oklahoma) and I (Miami University) have teamed up to create this system based on two earlier projects we had developed simultaneously, each unaware of the other’s work.

We have used SourceNotes for our own research as well as in a number of classes, and though Raph and I do share interests in western/borderlands history, the application of the online platform extends beyond our particular fields of study. At the upcoming conference, we will demonstrate the system by showing how it was used to digitize the research notes of John Mack Faragher’s Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, which will be available publicly within the next few months.

After seeing the kind of collaboration it fosters, we encourage you to think of the ways that you can work with others teaching and researching in similar fields via SourceNotes, and then to write to request a free account.