Rob Voss: Developing Student DH

Hi everyone, I am Rob Voss, Assistant Professor of History and Social Science Education Coordinator at Northwest Missouri State University. In my role as professor at a moderately selective Midwestern state university, I have a full teaching load of 4/4, plus an overload class, 47 advisees, and supervision responsibilities of student teachers in the field. That said, I am fully committed to developing Digital History as part of what we do as historians, yet my ability to commit to large scale projects is limited. Despite the limitations, there are smaller scale DH projects that are accessible to most undergraduates. In my time as a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was part of the first digital history class offered and worked on the Railroads Project and Civil War Washington in various capacities.

As part of my Six Shooters presentation, I will talk about how I have used my role as professor over the last three years to develop student DH projects with a focus on bringing scalable projects to high school classrooms. Student exposure to DH at a high school level will allow for further development at the undergraduate level. I have had my first set of student teachers enter the job market with DH on their resumes and will present on some of their experiences with high school students.

Mikal Eckstrom: Textual Analysis of American Indian and American Jewish data sets

My name is Mikal Eckstrom, a Ph.D. candidate at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This fall, I am teaching an undergraduate course, History of the US Present. This course historicizes modern problems, but one that also allows students to use digital recorders and online discussion boards to produce original research. My personal research, “Marginalized Tribes: Shared Experiences of Jews and Native Americans in the Trans-Missouri West, 1850-1935,” explores Jewish encounters with American Indians in the context of white settlement in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. The project relies on settler colonial, whiteness, and computational analysis as its primary methodologies.

For this lightning round, I will share some of my initial findings from my American Indian and American Jewish data sets. I am using textual analysis (statistical package R+ and MALLET [Machine Learning for LanguagE ToolkiT]) and topic modeling to discern gendered pressures unique to the Jewish and American Indian experiences during the peak period of American Indian and non-native allotment in the west. Initial findings show how both groups remembered the same time differently. Finally, I will discuss the responsibilities of working with indigenous histories in the digital humanities and why close reading is still crucial to our craft.

Jeff Malcomson: ExploreBig: The Struggle to Develop a Mobile App for Montana History

I am pleased to have the opportunity to present in the 2016 Six-Shooters session. I am a public historian with nearly 20 years of experience as an archivist in the West. Since 2005 I’ve worked at the Montana Historical Society (MHS) Research Center where I currently serve as the Senior Photograph Archivist. I created the Society’s first blog several years ago (Montana History Revealed, which is still going strong) and have served on the very active MHS Social Media Committee. Throughout my career I’ve actively sought ways to explore and test new tools in the digital humanities. In recent years I’ve become a fairly active editor of Wikipedia articles in Montana and Western history topics, organizing edit-a-thons and trying to improve this popular platform’s presentation of history.

For my Six-Shooters presentation I’ll talk about our experience at MHS over the past two years trying to develop a mobile app for Montana history. The end result, ExploreBig, is finally coming into its own as a tool for sharing the stories of Montana’s most historic places and buildings. We ended up using the Omeka-based Curatescape to build our website and mobile app, but the path to this product was fairly unique. I hope this harrowing story of high elective office, high-tech education, lowly bureaucratic squabbling, and low budget difficulties may serve to help others avoid similar problems in the future.

Lindsey Passenger Wieck: El Tecolote, A Bilingual Neighborhood Newspaper and Community Building

Hello! I’m Lindsey Passenger Wieck, and this year I’m a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Notre Dame (where I finished my Ph.D. earlier this year). This fall, I’m teaching an undergraduate course on the History of San Francisco that emphasizes digital writing and using DH tools. In 2017, I’m excited to work on some projects with our library’s Center for Digital Scholarship to help spread access to the digital humanities at our university. My manuscript, The Mission Impossible: The Cultural Politics of Community and Gentrification in Postwar San Francisco, explores Latino community formation in the Mission District of San Francisco and examines how this creates a space for gentrification. More broadly, I’m interested in the urban and spatial history, especially in the U.S. West.

At the Six-Shooters session, I’ll be talking a bit more about one of the digital components of my manuscript project. Using issues of El Tecolote, a bilingual community newspaper from the San Francisco  Mission District, I show how this newspaper served as tool for community building – for mobilizing residents in the neighborhood, for connecting them to resources and events, for promoting activism, and for warning the Mission’s inhabitants of unsafe spaces. During this panel, I’ll discuss how I conceptualized this mapping project and what I view as the next steps for it to delve deeper into this rich source base.

Chris Wells: Minnesota Environments

I am an associate professor of environmental history at Macalester College, where I direct the school’s Andrew Mellon Foundation-sponsored Digital Liberal Arts initiative. My research focuses on the ways that technology–and especially technological systems–have reshaped the American environment, mediating and structuring people’s relationships with the natural world.

For this lightning round, I will discuss Minnesota Environments, a smartphone app and accompanying website developed in collaboration with George Vrtis (Carleton College). Based on the Omeka CMS and its Curatescape plugin, the resulting project allowed students to research and publish material on Minnesota’s environmental history that users can explore from a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Virtual Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

My colleague James Connolly and I, working with staff from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and artists and designers from Ball State’s Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA), have crafted a computer-generated world that authentically simulates the Wild West show dramatizing frontier life. Virtual Buffalo Bill’s Wild West is a multiplayer virtual world that simulates Buffalo Bill Wild West Show circa 1899. The project serves as a prototype for developing and testing various designs and configurations that integrate a 3D environment and a web-based digital archive. This digital history project is built in Unity 3D using custom software created by IDIA Lab. The archive employs the Collective Access content management system, using VRA Core standards.

This collection contains source materials for the three-dimensional recreation of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World, a traveling exhibition that toured North America and Europe between 1883 and 1908. This enormously popular show presented to its audiences a recreation of life in the Old West, complete with spectacular displays of riding and shooting, as well as performances by “rough riders” from around the world. In addition to materials used as the basis for the design of the virtual world, this archive contains primary sources that provide historical context for understanding the Wild West show, its role in creating popular images of the Old West, the social history of the era.

What are your favorites?

Doug Seefeldt and Leslie Working suggested for those of us interested in the increasingly important role technology plays in our teaching, research and scholarship to share our favorite digital resources.  There are few opportunities for us to share what we use and gain some understanding of what else is out there.  We need to share what we have – our best digital practices.

As one interested in multiple digital technologies, I find myself drawn to a few key tools. I appreciate Zotero as a research tool. It is a free, open-source, and now extendable note taking tool that allows for automatic bibliographic file creation.

I also am interested in Anthologize, a new application for WordPress blogs that “Use[s] the power of WordPress to transform online content into an electronic book.”

We are not all about the tools we use, but also about the research we are involved in. I have been fortunate to be using the variety of digital methods available through MIT’s Simile Project. Timeline gives us new ways of viewing data over time, while Exhibit extends our understanding of information through maps, timelines and graphs in a simple and easily implementable manner.

These are just some of the tools that I use and am interested in. What are you interested in and what do you use? Why do you use what you do?