At the beginning of January 2012, we (Beth Van Allen and Jen Duplaga) went to the American Historical Association annual meeting in Chicago. We went prepared with our snow shoes and mittens and were pleasantly surprised with some warm Chicago winter days.
While there, we attended many digital-humanities sessions (which is just a fancy way of saying using digital tools for educational and research purposes). It’s the first time AHA has had a digital-humanities focus. We encountered a cornucopia of different digital tools and websites. While all of them are interesting, we thought we would highlight a few of our favorites.
One of our favorites is Zotero, which immediately brought to mind family historians. The program was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. It allows researchers to gather citation information from books and collections. But it does so much more than that! You can share files, index pdfs and other files, add metadata to photographs, create your own datasets. . . In other words, family historians will find Zotero to be an exciting tool for organizing and analyzing their research.
Another jaw-dropping program was the UCLA Urban Simulation Team’s presentation on 3D modeling for the classroom. They are using 3D and geospatial technology to recreate historic buildings and landscapes. Sure it may sound boring, but check out their website, where you can walk down the streets of Cairo at the 1893 Columbian World Exposition in Chicago. Check out what’s in the shops, see the first Ferris wheel and look out for the camels!!!
For all of you who are interested in the Civil War, a number of exciting new websites that focus on the era are popping up all over the Internet. The first major Civil War website project, the Valley of the Shadow, celebrated its 20th anniversary in one major session on Sunday morning. This website details the lives of one Northern and one Southern community, from John Brown’s raid to Reconstruction. You can find a number of the next generation of Civil War website projects at the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. Another couple of projects are worth noting: Civil War Washington, and Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory. KHS’s own Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition hopes to join this illustrious group in years to come.
We brought back lots of new ideas for KHS, ate some great, classic Chicago deep-dish pizza, and met lots of interesting people who share our passion for history.
--Beth Van Allen and Jen Duplaga