Creative Commons + Wikipedia

Copyright and attribution has already been a discussion point for the Farmer project, especially with regards to the use of video material. As we’ve discussed with Special Collections, not all of the Farmer-relevant video material they have is one that they have clear copyrights on to ensure the display of these materials. When choosing which video materials to display, we were careful to look out for the ones the library had confirmed full rights to.

With regards to our own material, I think, that we’re focusing more on digitizing, displaying, and curating others’ materials, ones we’re not modifying enough for them to qualify as our intellectual property in the first place. For original materials, I think the Attribution license condition is the one that makes the most sense, and I’m not sure about the relevance of the others to our project. I think that for this, we’d have to look more into the way the library’s own copyrights function and what licensing agreements they entail.

I looked at the Wikipedia pages for St. Petersburg, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Colonial Williamsburg. The former was edited significantly more often than the latter two, which makes sense as it is the one of these that has the greatest potential number of interested parties. Changes included stylistic questions such as changing ‘4th’ to ‘fourth’, organizational questions such as headers, updates and additions to citations, and minor clarifications in wording. In the case of references, I noted the phenomenon of correcting ‘http’ to ‘https’ in URLs. This is a question of digital preservation that I feel illustrates a relevant topic in our class: the ways we direct our audiences online are likely to require updating, often due to forces outside of our control.

Farmer update: Week Four

Our group finished the initial draft of our contract on Thursday, and it’ll be interesting to see how we’ll come to revise it in the week to come. We’ve settled on three major areas of focus: captioning yet-unpublicized Farmer video materials, digitizing the awards and honors of his stored on the UMW campus, and creating oral histories from his former students.

Going into the future, we’re going to have to focus a lot on creating ways to create narratives out of these materials and provide entryways into the material.

Personally, I’ve started working on captioning one of Farmer’s currently uncaptioned lectures, and it’s a fascinating process. The process begins with privately uploading the lecture to Youtube and receiving its automatic captions, then with correcting the captions, downloading this file, and adding it in in Premier Pro. These are less high-quality than the Reflections lectures, so the correction is taking more time than it would have with them. This makes captioning them even more important, and it’s really exciting for our group to be the entryway through which these particular materials become available to the public.

A James Farmer project video

Five thoughts on the experience of making this video.

  1. I can’t blame myself too much, because admittedly I did assemble this over the course of two days, but videos, even casual ones, take a lot more planning than I gave them credit for. In this case, for instance, I should have matched location and discussion theme from the start, because this ended up as ‘why is she meandering around the UMW campus for no reason?’
  2. With that said, I am glad I chose to film the campus rather than just talking into a camera.
  3. If I ever make another video about anything, I need to figure out a way to sound natural when I’m recording. I have no issues about public speaking, but I tend to need scripts for anything that’s getting recorded, and reading from a script kills my ability to sound natural.

I don’t know to which degree our group will use video in the future, but if we do, I’m excited to work with my group to promote our project through that lens.

Digital Archives!

Some thoughts:

  • I really liked the way Famous Trials was organized. Maybe that home page is a little bit less useful if you’re looking for something specific in an academic context, but I think the arrangement of names and faces in combination with a capacity to filter is a very effective way to draw in an audience. The accounts and further resources on the trials themselves are also very well-organized.
  • I found the site design of Lost & Found to be both visually appealing and effectively reflective of the site’s content. This is also the first online archive I’ve seen where you have to pay for content. I guess it makes sense that they exist anymore, but it’s worth noting that this seems rare. Also, I’m curious about the themes around which the ‘series’ are grouped around.
  • Searching for Residential Schools is a very effectively presented project. With how the parts of it transition to one another, though, it doesn’t necessarily read like an archive in the way the other examples do. This isn’t necessarily a critique, but I am curious about what specifically categorizes it as one.
  • The American Archive of Public Broadcasting is nothing if not incredibly impressive with regards to the sheer mass of information it collects and the topics it sorts them into, and the amount of collected effort it must have taken. I’m not sure how I feel about the organization of the front page, but I do like that it gives multiple openings as to where to begin with the wealth of information the archive offers.
  • The general design and structure of the September Eleventh Digital Archive was also impressive. The information seems to be organized effectively, and this archive sets itself apart interestingly in terms of its capacity to let users contribute to it.

That factor actually makes me think of whether that’d be possible to factor in for the Farmer Project somehow – if we do go through with doing alumni interviews, and if that generation of UMW alumni ends up being part of our intended audience, it could be cool to give them the options to contribute their own experiences. That’s a very hypothetical situation, but it is a thought that I thought was worth putting down.

Also, speaking of digital archives: this one is not on the list, but the other day I extensively used the Chilean National Library’s archive for a project and was keeping our class in mind! I really loved this site, and if I navigated it effectively even with my rusty Spanish, the organization has got to be pretty good.

Timeline: 50 years of Star Trek

Works Consulted:

Gross, Edward, and Mark A. Altman. The Fifty-Year Mission: the Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek. Thomas Dunne Books, 2019.

Pascale, Anthony. “Netflix Update: All Star Trek TV Series To Begin Streaming In July.”, SciFantastic Network, 6 Apr. 2011,

Teitelbaum, Sheldon. “How Gene Roddenberry and His Brain Trust Have Boldly Taken ‘Star Trek’ Where No TV Series Has Gone Before : Trekking to the Top.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 1991,

Project reviews

The Missouri-Kansas Conflict

Out of the list of Rosenzweig Prize Recipients, I looked at the Civil War on the Western Border website. Overall, I really liked the appearance of the site. One specific aspect of it that I really appreciated was the map; it’s a very intuitive way, of course, to convey this particular subject, but I felt that looking at the wider context of location and being able to examine a battle in more detail and see sources about it was one very effective way of organizing information offered by the site. The Lesson Plans tab is also a useful resource, one that it would make sense for a digital history project to offer. One thing that I didn’t find fully worked for me was the timeline. It contains a lot of interesting information, and I appreciated the categories, which were easy to keep track of. On a visual level, though, I felt that it just didn’t come across as effectively as the examples we looked at in class.

Gilded Age Murder

I then looked at Gilded Age Plains City. I was impressed with the map on this project, which offered an immersive and informative look into the spacial setting the project intended to convey. I also noticed that this project relied more heavily than others I’d seen on long, uninterrupted blocks of text to convey both the historical narrative and its interpretation. Obviously all historical narrative relies heavily on writing, but I do wonder if digital history projects (like other aspects of the Internet) have shied away to a degree from long blocks of text without visual aids as time went on, or if it’s purely a question of audience and personal choice. One thing I found odd about the project is that, though it does link to its document archive, it doesn’t give the archive the level of prominence it grants to the map or the interpretive sources, and I found this to be an odd choice. Digitized primary sources, ones I’d be unlikely to ever encounter if it weren’t for digital history as a field, are some of the most exciting things about these projects to me, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be easily viewable.

The Emilie Davis Diaries

I then looked at Villanova University’s digitization of the Emilie Davis Diaries, which was probably my favorite of the projects I looked at. I loved how readable and navigable the site was, how well it was designed, and the fact that a transcript of the diary could easily be read page-by-page, displayed alongside a digitization of the original document. The transcription also features annotations that the reader can click in and out of, and there’s also a tag cloud at the bottom displaying particular topics the reader can look at. Interestingly, comments appear to be enabled on the individual diary pages, though I don’t think they’re currently viewable. I think this site is interesting as an example of a digital history project with a very specific focus, that of a series of specific documents pertaining to one person. It’s therefore worth it to contrast it with digital history projects that aim to cover an event and the variety of sources that pertain to it, and how each then chooses to display their content.

Mapping Early American Elections

Finally, I looked at Mapping Early American Elections, which was reviewed in the most recent edition of the Journal of American History. What first stuck out to me about this project was that it’s one of the first digital history projects I’ve seen where the general look of the site doesn’t try to aim towards a ‘historical’ aesthetic. It makes me wonder if the aim to evoke a historical look has declined to some extent, concurrently with the present trend towards minimalism in site design. With that said, design-wise the project has a very eye-catching and distinctive color palette. The maps are well-organized and easy to interpret, and the sidebar features resources for looking over the resources the project provides, as well as tutorials for providing resources of that sort. In terms of drawbacks, I wish the designers of the site had found a more creative way to display and organize their information than the bulleted list the site actually contains.

Omeka Site Reviews

The first Omeka site I looked at was the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project, an archive of broadside ballads created by the American Antiquarian Society. It collects both scans of the original ballads and the assorted criticism and commentary essays written as a response to them. The archive features helpful resources for managing the large amount of content this entails. Most notably, it features a highly detailed alphabetized list of subjects, from which visitors can navigate to ballads about subjects as specific as ‘barrels’ and ‘young girls’. The page for each broadside features a scan of the original document as well as information on the date, subjects, a few paragraphs of general commentary, and author and a link to a transcription. In terms of design, the website is simple but not unattractive. It features some woodcut-style art that complements its subject. Its header fonts have an antique look that also references the subject of the site, but the body text is a more readable sans serif font. Overall, the site is effectively organized and easy to navigate, and well-positioned to provide resources both to historians seeking primary sources and to non-historians with an interest in the subject.

I also looked at Goin’ North, an extensive compilation of oral histories of Philadelphian participants and witnesses to the Great Migration. The site features several ways to investigate this information: the Archive function, which lists all the document and provides search options; the Oral History Interviews section, which catalogues oral histories by speaker; and the Stories section, which groups oral histories and other sources from the period by theme. Altogether, this creates a site that has multiple uses accessible by multiple audiences, including historians, history students, and figures interested in community or family history. I did note, however, that some of the links on the site weren’t updated when the site changed urls from to simply This particularly impacts the ‘Stories’ section and its multiple subsections; the large amount of broken links make it harder to navigate. This is a testament to the fact that, when displayed through digital media, historical content is not set in stone and needs some level of maintaining after the project’s completion.

Digital History Week 1: Introduction

On a more specific level than its fulfillment of course requirements, I think I took this class because it fulfills an aspiration I have to engage in the application of knowledge over the course my college education, rather than limiting myself to its acquisition. When I started the Digital Studies minor at UMW, I was immediately struck by the amount of tangible products classes within the discipline allow you to create. In my major, English, of course I create work that I’m proud of; but both in the dad-at-dinner-table “things to show employers” way, and in the more abstract sense of the desire to have participated in creating something, there’s something that distinguishes the creation of digital products from literary analysis essays. I think Adventures in Digital History exemplifies the desire to create something that matters via digital tools because the projects all concern genuine interactions with local history and produce tangibly new ways to engage with this history on a digital level.

Digital history is a branch of the digital humanities, an area that at once concerns the analysis and presentation of humanities fields through digital means, and the examination of digital tools in the context of the complexity and ambiguity humanities brings with it. Digital humanities contains a variety of fields, of which digital history, which concerns digital approaches to history specifically, is one. This can include the digitization of historical materials and interpretive works surrounding them, and the use of digital tools to display them in new, innovative ways. In “The Difference Between Digital History and the Digital Humanities,” Stephen Robertson argues that two particular factors distinguish digital history from the digital humanities as a whole. First, the creators of digital history resources have an established history of collaborating with figures outside of academia, and of considering non-academic figures as audiences. Secondly, the distribution of the tools digital history uses has up to this point been distinct from the rest of the digital humanities. The general trend is that digital humanities has taken full advantage of the options offered by digital mapping, whereas text analysis has been less immediately feasible for historical documents than it has been for literary ones.