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5 steps to a successful digital history project

In a recent post for Public History Commons, Lara Kelland highlighted “the potential for the democratization of historical knowledge made possible by digital tools and the role of public historians in this process.” Like Kelland, I find the marriage of

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‘On The Way To Cape May': Finding Hidden Histories on a Public Humanities Road Trip

Summertime tourists have been flocking to Cape May to beat the heat for nearly 250 years. Back then most visitors came by boat. Some travelled down the Delaware River from Wilmington, Philadelphia, and points North, while from across Chesapeake Bay came Baltimoreans, residents of Washington DC, and all points South (as well as their slaves). Today many visitors come down the Garden State Parkway (certainly the most direct way for the tourists traveling from New York, New England, and French Canada) but for those starting from Philadelphia or via the Delaware Memorial Bridge there is a better route that offers the opportunity to visit any of several public humanities sites along the way.

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History and Historic Preservation, huh! What are they good for?

“Please, tell me whether you think the world has changed at all since 1966,” asked Ned Kaufman at the June 5 New Jersey History and Historic Preservation conference in Monmouth County. Chuckles and giggles flowed from the audience. Agreed then that much has changed, he responded, why hasn’t our thinking in preservation also changed? Why are we still pursuing the same goals, working with the same tools, and recruiting the same supporters as we were in 1966?

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The Doctor is In

Over the past month or so a recurring topic has been floating in and out of my consideration so I’d thought I would share. It is the idea of museums as places, not just of learning and inspiration, but of rejuvenation and therapy. It started when a colleague returned from a trip to Europe full of excited stories about the new exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. Art is Therapy is not a typical exhibit where objects are selected for their relevance to a theme and displayed all together in a gallery. This show takes place throughout the museum, with commentary about the art and the space it inhabits posted adjacent to the objects which remain in their normal display areas. The underlying point of the show is to get people to go beyond looking at museum objects as special simply because they are made by a noted artist, or are particularly old or rare, but to appreciate them for how they make you feel regardless of provenance or pedigree.

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The Fickle Public

A week or so ago, a friend and museum colleague posted a link on Facebook to this article published in the Denver Business Journal. It is an opinion piece by David Sneed, CEO of Alpine Fencing. From viewing his company’s website—which offers a nice variety of fences for any of your neighborly needs—I think he would qualify as a typical “joe public” museum goer. This is someone we as museum professionals want hear from. How else will we be able to be relevant to a wider population? We must know what our patrons think, what they want and we should deliver, right?

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Could the public humanities become more valuable?

Building community has turned up as a priority in a wide variety of settings around the region lately, often with the humanities in the driver’s seat. Perhaps in the season when underground bulbs send up the flowers that remind us to appreciate the beauty in nature, it is reasonable to treat the humanities a bit like those flowers. Perhaps this is a chance to take a moment to give a sniff, let our spirits be lifted, and renew our hopes for our work in a troubled world.

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Public/Digital | History/Humanities: Conceptualizing the Digital Public Humanities

On February 20, 2014, I gave a talk at Lehigh University in Bethelehem, PA with the rather unwieldy title of Public/Digital | History/Humanities: Conceptualizing the Digital Public Humanities. As I explained to Julia Maserjian, Digital Scholarship Project Manager at Lehigh’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, who invited me to speak at Lehigh, it was really important to keep that little | symbol in between two parts of my title. That symbol—called a pipe—is used in the UNIX operating system and has a very particular meaning that I wanted to use as to frame my remarks. I’m no UNIX programmer, but when I was about ten years old my father, who is an electrical engineer and knew that I was interested in computers, told me that I should teach myself UNIX. “It’ll be useful,” he said, while handing me an approximately 700 page book on UNIX written for adults with some background in programming.

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Yes, but what does it all MEAN?

This past fall I taught an undergraduate course on American material culture. It was my first go at this type of course. I’ve taught “traditional” history courses covering everything from medieval & early modern Europe to American women’s history (my

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New possibilities dawn for Bethlehem Steel Historic Site

On January 30, a Northampton County grand jury called for the firing or resignation of Stephen G. Donches, once PR executive at Bethlehem Steel Corporation and since the 1990s, president of an effort to create a National Museum of Industrial

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THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA

Based at MARCH, with numerous community partners, The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia is a civic project to increase understanding of one of America’s greatest cities. From abolition and the American Revolution to yellow fever and zoos (with cheesesteaks, rowhouses, and hundreds of other topics in between), the digital Encyclopedia and print volume will offer the most comprehensive, authoritative reference source ever created for the Philadelphia region.

CONFERENCE CALENDAR

Oct
22
Wed
3:15 pm Mid-Atlantic Association of Muse...
Mid-Atlantic Association of Muse...
Oct 22 @ 3:15 pm – Oct 24 @ 4:15 pm
From the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums: Join MAAM in Washington DC this October as we explore Museums in Transition and Transitions in Museums. The museum world is constantly undergoing change and transformation, whether in response to economics, cultural trends or
Oct
23
Thu
all-day Creating, Displaying, and Revisi... @ West Chester University
Creating, Displaying, and Revisi... @ West Chester University
Oct 23 all-day
West Chester University (West Chester, Pennsylvania) will hold its 2nd Annual One-Day History Conference on Thursday, October 23, 2014: Creating, Displaying, and Revising American Identity.  The inspiration for this year’s theme is the 200th anniversary of the national anthem and the
Oct
24
Fri
1:45 pm The World’s Fair Since ’64 @ Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation of the Smithsonian Institution
The World’s Fair Since ’64 @ Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation of the Smithsonian Institution
Oct 24 @ 1:45 pm – Oct 25 @ 2:45 pm
From H-Urban: This workshop proposes to examine world’s fairs since (and including) 1964, a period marked by tremendous variability in the location and impact of the genre.  Participants may cover any of the fairs from 1964 to the present, as
Oct
27
Mon
8:30 am Meant to Last? Preserving the Mo...
Meant to Last? Preserving the Mo...
Oct 27 @ 8:30 am – Oct 28 @ 5:00 pm
From the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts: The twentieth and twenty-first centuries brought into the world a bewildering array of new materials, used to design a broad range of objects now collected in museums, libraries, and archives.   Many
Oct
30
Thu
4:30 pm Conference: Green Capitalism? Ex... @ Hagley Library and Museum
Conference: Green Capitalism? Ex... @ Hagley Library and Museum
Oct 30 @ 4:30 pm – Oct 31 @ 5:30 pm
More information to follow.  View the 2013 conference schedule at http://www.hagley.org/hagley-conferences.

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