ADH Reflection

“They call themselves ‘Digital Preservationists’…”

Over the course of this semester, our group has worked diligently together to create a website where people have full access to all past and current Adventures in Digital History projects. The biggest thing that I learned this semester was that there is always an argument and purpose to history projects, even if it isn’t a traditional thesis. Our mission statement held that place and told the story about what our group was going to complete over the course of the semester. Our mission statement? To refresh, restore, recover, and organize past digital history projects.

When beginning this process, it seemed like a daunting task; receiving a list of sites, some of which were broken, was quite a surprise, but our group was able to figure out a way to work together and use our strengths to create a working plan on how to finish the project. We split into two teams: Ashley and I worked together to create the main hub and provide short summaries for each of the websites while Lindsey and Eugene work together to do the backend work on the old sites that needed to be rescued, refreshed, or restored. We purposefully chose to split this way because we realized our capacities for what we could (and couldn’t) do. 

When first beginning work on the hub, it seemed like an exciting possibility to create a resource that was accessible to everybody, and that continued to be my personal goal throughout the project. My task specifically was to create the individual pages in the drop-down menus that people could explore. Making sure the pictures resize the citations were there and that the words were representative of the project research that other people in past classes had done, it was a slow process, but fun in the ways that I got to explore past projects that students have done.

In terms of our group contract, I feel that we successfully completed most if not all the parts that we decided on as a team. All our main mission statement points were covered, and from that we were able to expand as needed. I don’t think we are planning on having a page specifically about the changes that we made on the sites at the very beginning, but that was a decision that we made as the project evolved in order to keep the historic integrity of the projects. We chose to use WordPress as we said, and we did run our site through the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) to ensure maximum access for all people. In terms of how this site would be marketed, we are presenting at the symposium this coming Friday, and contacted each of the listed people/teams for social media (and have gotten shared on a few of those places!). The one thing we did not do as listed on the project contract was create a TimelineJS of the included projects. Towards the end of the project, it just did not seem like it was functional because people could just explore by topic interest. I’m also noticing that we did not follow our benchmarks specifically to a T, but got work done each week that created a finished product by the due date.

Overall, I would say this project was a complete success! We can show off our hard work at the History Symposium and share how this project will evolve over time as more students complete digital history projects in a variety of departments. Our hope is that this site will reach beyond just History in American Studies, and will extend into different programs and projects that students have done too! This was a huge learning experience, and I’m glad to have been a part of this untraditional project!

Here’s to ADH 2022! Click below to view our project and others from the spring 2022 class:

UMW Digital History Archive

History of the University of Mary Washington (Name Change and our time as a part of UVA)

Venus Jones Mural Companion

James Farmer Hall Renaming

Private Schwarz Scrapbook