Wrapping Up the DH Fellowship in Public Projects

This spring 2018 semester I continued to work in the Public Projects Division. Since I first arrived in this division in spring 2017, I have primarily worked on the Hearing the Americas NEH planning grant to help in the production of a prototype and a future implementation plan. The design document that concluded this planning grant was completed by the time we arrived back from winter break. This semester, I assisted with the next phase of the project: to submit an NEH production grant drawing from the progress we made during the planning grant period in order to build and launch the website. I helped to draft a preliminary version of this grant proposal that is currently in its last week of editing by the Hearing the Americas team before being submitted for consideration in this grant cycle. Working on this project has continued to be a dynamic way for me to draw from and expand my knowledge in music, digital, and public history. Being involved in the grant writing process, throughout the planning grant and production grant phases, has also provided invaluable experience learning how much work goes into drafting a substantial grant application.

In addition to Hearing the Americas, I also began working on the Papers of the War Department and Race and Ethnicity in Advertising projects, which both primarily involved migrating content from one platform to another. When I began working with the Race and the Ethnicity project, Ken Albers had already migrated the content into Omeka. My job was to reconstitute essays from the original website that explored the racial, gendered, and ethnic histories of advertising. Basically, this required converting textual essays into formats that made sense in Omeka’s exhibit builder. Some of these essays translated more easily than others, so it was a creative challenge to find the best ways to structure and illustrate each essay with content from the website.

My other major task this semester was to help prepare content in Papers of the War Department for migration into Omeka S. This digitized archive serves as an important resource by reconstituting documents thought to have been lost in a fire at the US War Department in 1800. These digitized resources are connected to Scripto, a crowdsourcing transcription tool also being updated in this website migration. I have primarily assisted fellow Graduate Research Assistant Alyssa Fahringer by going through the crowdsourced transcriptions she has identified that are incomplete and/or need approval. Unlike Hearing the Americas, this project is far outside of my comfort zone. Although I have done a substantial amount of transcribing from oral histories and other sound recordings, I have not often had to work from handwritten text. As these documents were written between 1784-1800, there is a steep learning curve to adjust to reading the handwriting styles and letter-writing conventions of the time. I will continue to work primarily on the Papers of the War Department project over the summer, so I’ll have some time to sharpen these skills.

Jessica Does History