Friday, April 22, 2011

Behold Again the Awesomeness of My Public History Students

Last quarter I taught the graduate Introduction to Public History class. for the final course project I gave the students the option to do anything whatsoever that a public historian might do--from a walking tour to a museum collection plan to a historic register nomination to a digital project. Quite a few took me up on the last option and I thought I would share their work here.

Pippin Rubin had been having fun reading some of the diaries of the women missionaries who came west along the Oregon Trail in 1838--part of the research for her thesis. With her typical attention to detail she plotted every single campsite along the trail in a Google Map and entered a few lines from each diary into the place marks. She added other information as well. The result is this dramatic visualization of the long struggle of these women to bring their message to the Pacific Northwest:

View Missionary Trail 1838 in a larger map

Two students wanted to create mobile walking tours of historic sites in Spokane. They went about this in very different ways. Tracy Rebstock created a an audio tour of Manito Park. She did a wonderful job of distilling her research into short 1-2 minute guides to some of the most significant areas of this 100+ year-old urban park. She even got the tour onto iTunes--search for Manito or for Librarygirl70.

Clayton Hanson took a different tack to creating his walking tour of Spokane Falls. Clayton wanted to create a multi-media tour with text, historic photographs and video. The method he hit upon was to create the stops on his tour as place markers on a custom Google Map. The idea is that Google Maps is an existing platform that is available on all smartphone operating systems. Each place mark would hold HTML to take the user to a webpage with more information. But how to create a mobile-optimized webpage for each tour stop? Clayton's solution was to use Omeka to hold the content for his tour and to create an Omeka exhibit for each stop. It is an ingenious solution, but unfortunately Omeka does not display very well on mobile phones so the pages are crunched and the text tiny. They display just fine on a computer, however:

View Historic Tour of Spokane's Riverfront Park in a larger map

Tiffany Fulkerson did a project in Google Earth "Climate Change at the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene A Comparison of Proxy Data Sets in Washington State" that also built on her thesis research and technology to bring her work to a broader public.

Finally, Nikolai Cherny used the final project to document a soon-to-be-dismantled museum exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. The Spokane Timeline uses the Blogger platform to present a tour of the exhibit, a slideshow of images from the exhibit, the exhibit script, and even an interview with exhibit designer and MAC curator Marsha Rooney:

Not everyone did a digital project, I also received a wonderful history of a local elementary school, a processing plan for an unsorted archival collection, a history of an aviation museum, and a career paper involving historic preservation. It was the finest set of final projects that I have received in my Intro to Public History class.


Bill Youngs said...

These are fabulous -- what a great assignment and what great student responses!

Bobbie McCrea said...

Such as great teacher as always!!! Love the idea and the outcome, outstanding!

- Bobbie McCrea