Digital projects showcased in Monterey

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An item from New Mexico State University’s digitized Agricultural Extension Service records. Source: NMSU Library Digital Collections

At the third annual “lightning talks” session highlighting new (and some not so new) digital public history projects at the National Council on Public History conference, a dozen presenters showed off their work to a lunchtime audience.

  • Nathan Brown, digital projects librarian at New Mexico State University, showed the work the library has done in digitizing historical materials from the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station publications of the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • The Washington State Historical Society is gathering materials on late 20th-century women’s history, beginning with the International Women’s Year Oral History Project.
  • Stephanie Johns, a Public History graduate student from Western Ontario, presented her Oxford County Gaol/Jail project, which includes a HistoryPin site and an eight-minute video.
  • Sheila Brennan from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media talked about the new Histories of the National Mall site, accessible by any digital device and featuring maps, stories, and more.
  • Noting that the city of Boise, Idaho has a Department of Arts and History that is on the same level as the municipal parks, fire, and police departments, Brandi Burns introduced the Remnants of Boise project, a 2013 initiative that linked 25 historic and contemporary landscapes through photographs and narrative data.
  • Jessica Knapp, another of Western University’s Public History students, stole the show with her “Interactive Talking Skull” project.  Designed largely as a technical exercise, Benny the talking skull spoke a skull-related line of Shakespeare that differed based on how far away the listener was standing.  We’re not sure it’s public history, but it was a lot of fun to hear, as reported by many audience members.
  • Michael Van Wagenen and Ryan Noble, independent filmmakers who moved into the fields of history and fine arts, respectively, made a pitch for their Visual Summer History Institute, a two-week, nearly-fully-funded course in filmmaking for historians that will be held at Georgia Southern University in May 2014.
  • A presenter from the first Digital Showcase session in 2012, Bobby Allen of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made a return visit with an update on new work at the Digital Innovation Lab, which is working on developing a digital mapping tool, an oral history audio tool keyed to transcriptions, and a community history project at a former mill site.
  • Angela Smith presented the Fargo History Project, developed largely by graduate and undergraduate students at North Dakota State University.  The project focuses on the city’s late 19th-century history and has prompted much community interest, especially in colorful local stories like that of a prosperous African American madam.
  • Donnie Curtis, a librarian at the University of Nevada at Reno, presented a web project on the Basque Sheepherders of Northern Nevada.  Ever heard of arborglyphs?

~ Cathy Stanton is Digital Media Editor for the National Council on Public History and chair of the Digital Media Group, which sponsored the showcase session.



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