Out and About

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 | Mills Kelly

One of the things I hope to spend a little time discussing with people at THATCamp is how we can get digital humanities off the desktop and out into the community.

To give you an idea of what I’m up to on that front, next summer I’m teaching a “field studies” course here at George Mason that will take a dozen or so undergraduates down into the Northern Neck of Virginia (the peninsula  between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers) to begin building a website called Becoming Warsaw. Warsaw? It just so happens that there is a small town in this region called Warsaw (I’m an East European historian, hence my curiosity about it) that took the Polish name back in 1831 in solidarity with Polish revolutionaries who were attempting (unsuccessfully) to throw off Russian rule that year. This is a very interesting historical moment that raises lots of questions, the first being how the hell people in a rural Virginia community even knew what was happening over in Russian Poland?

We’re going to spend two weeks in the area gathering raw historical information by working in local archives, at historic sites, plantation ruins, cemeteries, etc., etc. Everything we gather will be dumped into an Omeka database and will then become the stuff of a website on our course topic.

In addition to the field work, we’ll be establishing connections to the local community of historically interested parties–historical societies, genealogists, museum directors, history teachers–and will be inviting them to join in our effort, adding material to the database throughout the year. My hope is to have the students see this as both a historical research project and a community outreach project.

Will it work? Who knows. But I’m going to find out the hard way…

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7 Responses to “Out and About”

  1. Marjorie McLellan Says:

    Mills, this sounds a lot like what I’m interested in working on using omeka. Margie

  2. Mills Kelly Says:

    Then for sure we need to put our heads together over the weekend. I’ll be arriving around lunch time on Saturday because my oldest son has his last lacrosse game of the season at 9:00 am that day and I have to be there (the curse of attending a local conference…).

  3. David Rieder Says:

    Mills, This sounds like something related to a project I developed recently with Modest Maps and Flash. I’m interested in models of digital humanities work outside the classroom. Your project sounds very interesting.

  4. Jeffrey McClurken Says:

    Sounds like a great project. I certainly want to hear more about it, even if it doesn’t link up directly with the session on teaching digital history methods classes that I think is forming with Bill Ferster (and maybe Paula Petrik?) My students have done some work with Omeka that might be helpful as well in thinking about the class.

  5. Kurt Knoerl Says:

    Hi Mills: As you know this project has many aspects that are similar to what I’d like to do in terms of building a distributed museum. I’m interested in how you’ll go about establishing those local connections and of course in the field work itself.

  6. Mills Kelly Says:

    Hey Kurt. I’m actually going down to the Northern Neck in a few weeks to meet with folks from two of the local museums and the local community college. They are all quite interested in the project and are looking forward to working with me and my students. Once I meet with them I’ll have a much better idea of how it might all play out.

  7. Liste non exhaustive des thématiques abordées lors des THATCamp | ThatCamp Paris 2010 Says:

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