ABOUT THE PROJECT
This website is the major assignment for a class, Digital History, at the University of Mary Washington. While the course is over at the end of April 2008, it is our hope that this website will continue to grow after this class ends. The site, in its current state, contains seventeen interviews, but with the continued support of the school, contributions from alumni who we have not been able to interview may eventually become a part of this ongoing project. Please check out the “Add” section of the site if you are interested in contributing.
Dr.McClurken's Digital History Seminar focuses on the creation of a new way to present historical research. By combining traditional research methods with a “New Media” approach, the class has not only discussed the philosophy of digital history, but has created projects that take advantage of the vast technological resources available online. These projects (Historical Markers, James Monroe Papers, James Farmer, and Alumni), all with the goal of presenting local Fredericksburg and Mary Washington resources online, provide the core of the course.
The class was broken into four groups, each taking one of the four projects. The UMW Alumni Project group has five members, all undergraduate students at the University of Mary Washington. Short biographies about each student are here.
This project, The UMW Alumni Project, creates a digital storyline of the history of the University of Mary Washington through the perspective of the alumni of the institution. Using an oral history approach, we have conducted interviews with alumni of different eras and created profiles of each interviewee, including a transcribed record of each interview. As an alternative way to look at the school's history, we have also created a timeline of the key events, dates, and topics discussed in our interviews. We supplement these interviews with artifacts from the alumni and other primary source documents, such as yearbook photographs and school newspaper articles.
Because our class is focused on the creation of digital history, the programs and tools we have used to create this website are an important part of our project. We have combined a number of academic tools to create a project that takes full advantage of the resources available online and in New Media.
All of the interviews on the site were conducted between January and May 2008. Each interview was videotaped using digital video cameras. Transcripts of each interview are available as archived materials on our site. The video version of each interview was edited, using Windows Movie Maker, to create smaller clips about a specific topic. These videos were then uploaded to YouTube to be presented on our site.
Our site contains a number of artifacts that are intended to act as a supplement to the stories that the alumni have told in their interviews. To house and catalog all of these documents, we have used a program developed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Omeka is a free, open-source application that enables users to publish collections and exhibits of documents online. Omeka provides the ability for a user to focus on the content of exhibits rather than coding of a website.
Our timeline was constructed from a program created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's SIMILE Project. The timeline tool is just one of the open-source web applications developed by this group. The timeline application provides a visual method of looking at events over time.
Finally, the UMW Alumni Project would like to thank those people whose contributions helped make this website a success. First, it would be impossible to tell this story without the seventeen alumni who provided both their time and memories. Their willingness to share their thoughts was a pivotal part of this project. Also, the staff at UMW's Division of Teaching & Learning Technologies, who provided expertise and assistance, helped our group overcome many of the technological barriers we came across. Dr. Crawley, who let the group read a manuscript of his book on the one hundred year history of the University of Mary Washington, provided a background of knowledge that was particularly helpful. Finally, we would like to thank Dr. McClurken, who worked tirelessly to teach us the topic and skills of the creation of digital history.