It’s been an immense journey these last two semesters on this project. When I began, I had a naive understanding of what it meant “to make an archive.” I had no idea of the process of organizing the materials, working with file sizes and types of files, creating metadata or planning a structure for the site. There was creating contextual information and adding supporting materials to round out the collection. By the end of semester one, I had a better understanding of what all “making an archive” entailed and found myself and my project to be incredibly lacking.
I was glad to be able to rework my project and to plan it out with more understanding of what I didn’t know. I appreciated Dr. Whisnant encouraging me to “dream big” even if I couldn’t fully execute it. While what I dreamed isn’t completely executed, it is closer to what I had envisioned than I thought I’d be able to accomplish. By letting go of forcing the project into Omeka, I was able to take a chance on discovering Scalar. The more I work with it, the more I see ways in which it can be more and more the tool I was looking for. If I hadn’t allowed myself to sketch out my vision, I never would have made the attempt with Scalar. Had I done so, the project would have looked far different.
I have also learned how much work goes into planning and maintaining a site. I feel like I haven’t done as good of a job on this as I might have, but now that I have the prototype in place, I can spend more time thinking of how to manage it before it grows larger in content. I appreciate the suggestions I’ve received along the way for different strategies to accomplish that end.
I have come to understand more and more how teaching is a form of public history. Teaching students to learn to engage with and create their historical content can happen in a classroom just as well as in a museum, a Parks Service project or local history site. In many ways, it lays the foundation for the historical thinking skills the public will develop and practice throughout their lives and in whatever public spaces they might encounter.