Creating Two Totally Excellent HISTORY Websites: University Desegregation Anniversary (& US Largest Slave Revolt)

There is already a session about faculty with little or no web training, but that underlies this too.  I am actually trying to build two websites:  one for the 50th Anniversary of the Desegregation of Tulane; and one for the 1811 Louisiana Slave Revolt.  The latter is in the context of a class.  Both have some progress already.  Ideally, we want a high level of academically vetted history content, scanned documents; and on both sites access to video–on the desegregation website that will be oral history interviews (or maybe edited versions thereof with subsidiary links to full interviews); while on both sites we will have event footage.  My experience in both cases so far has been, because no one has a real budget or time for much professional training, whoever volunteers with pretty good web skills does what they can.  The end results are not bad; but there has got to be way to do this smoother and with more best-practices especially for the historical material–my big concern–good ways to present things like timelines and images; and useful ways to present scanned materials, but for the visual interest of the public, and perhaps for future researchers.  Putting up designed-to-be-permanent major history websites like this should have some best-practices goals/ideas/standards, beyond ‘what we can do with our limited professional skills and financial and professional resources.

Categories: Session Proposal |
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About Laura Rosanne Adderley

I am an African diaspora historian interested in the experience of people of African descent throughout the Americas. My own research so far has mostly concerned the era of slavery and slavery, particularly in the 19th century. I am particularly, but not exclusively, interested in intersections and interactions between black populations and systems of slavery in the Caribbean and the United States. I am newly more interested in slavery and public history. I wish I better understood how to use web based and audio visual materials in both my research presentation and teaching. I am about to start a 3-year stint as Director of African & African Diaspora Studies. I have big dreams, but not much money in that position.

7 Responses to Creating Two Totally Excellent HISTORY Websites: University Desegregation Anniversary (& US Largest Slave Revolt)

  1. Vicki Mayer says:

    Happy to partner on this with you if you want.

  2. Lisa Flanagan says:

    This session topic has some cross pollination with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s “Down by the River” project: www.downbytheriverproject.org/. There are a few of us working on the project in various capacities who will be attending.

  3. Laura Rosanne Adderley says:

    I work at Tulane and am familiar with the downbytheriver project. To clarify my own proposal. While both of these projects are embryonic–both are actually up and running and have sort of institutional homes. 1811 project is approximately 4-years old, and the 50th Anniversary of Desegregation work is about 9 months in. The hard lessons learned and what I want to work on is how monumentally challenging it is to do the rigorous historical stuff well, and find the resources, skills and technology to get that online. Thanks for early positive energies. I should emphasize too that I am early days in trying to get my own both technical and local history content training properly up to snuff for this work.

  4. It seems the same issues, combining the best of form and content -academically, technologically, aesthetically, in terms of audience, etc. – are at root of any online digital project. Not to mention that the best resources now might be be as useful or desirable as the project develops or technologies continue to change.

  5. Molly Mitchell says:

    Hi Rosanne,
    I am interested in putting heads together. I have a very basic version (in Omeka) of a pop-up exhibit my students did at the Ogden this spring on the visual culture of the Civil War in the South. It will not be as elaborate as what you’re doing but I think we might add to it going forward, with documents from the LOC (simple) rather than scanning our own. But I am very interested in the idea of how to do history well, digitally. I also have the additional issue of wanting to present STUDENT work well,too. Their voice have to be there, but often heavily edited… This is something I know Michael has to grapple with all of the time in the Public History program.

  6. Hi Rosanne, I noticed that you have conceived of these as two separate websites. Among archivists attending our THATCamp, Louis Digital and the Mississippi Digital Library are the “gold standards” for online archives in our state. They are holding to the pattern established throughout their profession.

    Historians and traditional scholars tend to think in terms of monographs and individual authorship, but I think there’s an important lesson historians need to take from the work of professionals trained in digital work. Collaboration has its value. If best practices for archivists and librarians leads to such databases as Louis Digital, then we should learn as much as we can about their experiences on the front end: planning, fundraising, long-term maintenance of digital materials.
    Even if funds are provided to create one or two great websites, maintenance and upgrades for 2 or more websites versus a collaborative effort for a website offering multiple partners and multiple exhibitions should be considered.

  7. Laura Rosanne Adderley says:

    Thanks Michael. I actually think the most critical collaboration thing I learned here was trying to find some Tulane Library partners. We have an archivist partner from the Nadine Vorhoff Library, but it’s been more in a general advice capacity as opposed to thinking about putting archival material on the website as a joint project. That is the archivist has been like all of us, simply a member of the committee as opposed to thinking about a working partner for actually making the work happen.

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