Update #3 on the Oberlin Community History Hub

This week I would characterize my work on the OHCC as “plugging along.” I did two main kinds of work on the project this week. First, I continued adding items to the collection. We are trying to build a robust enough prototype so that the site’s search capabilities can be demonstrated to our potential community partners. We want to showcase how much more discoverable the OHCC can make existing content, whether that is existing digital humanities projects, walking tours and guides, primary sources, or images. To that end, we need to put together a large collection of items of many different types.

This week, I added about 25 items to the site. That included about fifteen digital projects, many of them created as individual items from a broad project on African American women in Oberlin’s history. I also added links to some of the digital collections related to Oberlin’s history from the Oberlin College archives. We are uploading the digital projects and collections on the site as hyperlinks; our goal is to make a material that appears on different websites easily searchable and then to direct users back to the original sites to explore projects.

I also worked on developing more curated content . The curated content on the OHCC ¬†will ¬†offer quick introductions to different aspects of Oberlin’s history. We are creating two different kinds of curated content, both modeled on content types found on the Histories of the National Mall site: short biographical entries of important figures in Oberlin’s history and short mini-essays or “explorations” that offer interpretations and framing of different aspects of Oberlin’s history. We’ve done one exploration so far (“What Can You Learn from Oberlin’s Monuments), with others planned (next up: “Where did Oberlin get its Name?”) This week, I did the first two biographical entries (one on Mary Church Terrell and one on Oberlin co-founder, John Jay Shipherd). While the brief biographies are only 250-300 words long, I found them challenging to write because I had to synthesize and distill so much available information into a short, digestible form. I chose to focus primarily on the person’s actions in and interactions with Oberlin. There is additional material on the site about many of the people who will be the subjects of these brief biographies, so a user who wanted to know will be easily able to do so.

We are not trying to be exhaustive in creating curated content–the goal is to have enough biographical entries and explorations to showcase what they are and to then create some framework to encourage the creation of additional curated content that could be vetted by site administrators. Community partners or interns might want to develop additional explorations, or creating a biographical entry could be a class assignment for advanced high school or college students.

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