For a few weeks now, my team and I are collaborating on a digital history project for Cliveden , a historic site located in the Germantown area of Philadelphia. After the project is completed, it will be displayed in a new exhibit that Cliveden is showcasing.
In an article discussing the impact that digital technology has on the public, Deborah Boyer says, “Digital technology has enabled public historians, cultural heritage professionals, and history students to collaborate with diverse audiences and explore history’s role in civic engagement in ways previously unimagined.” We are excited to see our hard work and research pay off in a way that will lead to people of all ages learning about the Chew properties, their history of enslaved labour.
Utilizing this Google Maps of the Chew properties provided, we were able to pinpoint locations to focus on. Our focus is where the Chew family wealth came from, and how it existed within their properties. In order to find the answers to our questions we are utilizing primary sources, including letters and financial records.
In my group I am the communications director, where I am in charge of communicating between our group, Ms. Wallace and Dr. Mack. Most recently, I have been able to gather questions the group has and send them over to Ms. Wallace via email. This role is important in a group setting as it makes communicating easier and keeps people like Ms. Wallace from being bombarded with emails.
So far, research has been steady. Each of us are assigned a specific location or person, and doing research on them. I am assigned Cliveden and Whitehall Plantation. There is a lot more information on Cliveden than there is Whitehall Plantation, which has been a trickier property to research. Since we are transforming our research into a proper StoryMaps format, we currently have all of our data existing on either a Google Docs or Google Slides. This is crucial as both are accessible to everyone in our group.
The advantages of collaborating with others on a digital history project is that the work load is split, so not everything is falling on one person’s shoulders. Another advantage is different perspectives and ideas being tossed around. The disadvantages is that when working on a digital project, technical issues may come up. For us, only one person can be working on the Story Maps template at a time, so it is not as collaborative as let’s say working within Google Suite or Canva.
I think this process has been rewarding and we can’t wait to see the finished project!
Deborah Boyer. “Finding the intersection of technology and public history,” https://ncph.org/history-at-work/finding-the-intersection-of-technology-and-public-history/