Archive for 2007

Omeka Hits Milestone

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Omeka, CHNM’s new free and open source platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online, hit a major milestone with the launch of Release Candidate 4 (RC4). Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.

Three months from its initial beta release, Omeka is already in use by institutions around the country, including the Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film and Virginia Tech’s April 16 Archive.

Omeka features:

  • Dublin Core metadata structure and standards-based design that is fully accessible and interoperable
  • Professional-looking exhibit templates that showcase collections without hiring outside designers
  • Theme-switching for changing the look and feel of an exhibit in a few clicks
  • Plug-ins for user contributions, batch upload, and a host of other possibilities
  • Web 2.0 Technologies, including tagging and syndication through RSS feeds.

Omeka is currently in private beta. If you are interested in getting on the invitation list to download and test Omeka, please email the Omeka team, which will notify you when there are additional spaces for this testing period. Omeka will be available for general public download in early-2008.

ScholarPress Launched

Monday, November 12th, 2007

CHNM Creative Lead, Jeremy Boggs and CHNM Web Developer, Dave Lester have announced the launch of ScholarPress, a hub for educational WordPress plugins. ScholarPress currently features two plugins, Courseware and WPBook.

Courseware enables users to manage a class with a WordPress blog, including a schedule, bibliography, assignments, and other course information. Initially developed during the summer of 2006 with help from Josh Greenberg, former Associate Director of Research Projects, now the Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship at the New York Public Library, Courseware has since been tested and used by several professors at George Mason University.

WPBook works with the Facebook Development platform to enable Facebook users to embed a WordPress Blog onto their Facebook page. WPBook works with Courseware to create a custom application allowing students to view syllabus information directly from Facebook.

A third plugin, Gradebook, will allow users to manage and display class grades securely to students. Gradebook is currently under development.

Moving Forward

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Roy Rosenzweig co-founded the Center for History and New Media in 1994 and directed the Center until he passed away last month. In the early years, the Center was just Roy and a few others, but in the last seven years the number of projects, size of the staff, and overall ambition of the Center has grown exponentially. Presently there are over forty people working full or part time at CHNM on over two dozen active projects, from landmark history education projects like History Matters and the new National History Education Clearinghouse, important collections like the September 11 Digital Archive, and innovative software such as Zotero and Omeka.

Although we always joked that Roy could do the work of many people, among his many legacies was his realization that CHNM was built not on servers and software but on people and their passion for history and digital technology, and that despite his boundless energy he could not do it all. Over the past five years Roy assembled a senior staff with decades of combined experience in the construction of new media, and hired what we like to think is one of the most talented groups of web designers, programmers, and researchers in academia.

Today, that team has assumed the reins of the Center and, although in mourning, continues without missing a beat to work on some of the most exciting and important projects in the digital realm. Dan Cohen, who has worked closely with Roy since 2001 and who co-authored with him Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, has become the new director of CHNM. Other key members of the senior staff remain in place and firmly committed to the Center, including Tom Scheinfeldt (Managing Director), Kelly Schrum (Director of Education Projects), Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects), Sean Takats (Acting Director of Research Projects), Connie Sehat (Digital Historian), and Mike O’Malley, Paula Petrik, and Mills Kelly (Associate Directors).

At every stage in the growth of CHNM, Roy liked to say that “we are just getting started.” And thanks to Roy, we will continue “getting started” for many years to come.

Roy Rosenzweig: Memorial Events

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Several memorial events are being planned to celebrate the life and work of CHNM’s beloved late director, Roy Rosenzweig, who passed away earlier this month after a valiant struggle with cancer. Details will be posted at, where friends, colleagues, and admirers may also post memories, stories, tributes, photos and other materials in celebration of Roy.

Washington Area Technology & Humanities Fall Forum

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

This fall the Washington DC Area Forum on Technology and the Humanities is pleased to present:

Bob Stein on “The Evolution of Reading and Writing in the Networked Era”

For the past several hundred years intellectual discourse has been shaped by the rhythms and hierarchies inherent in the nature of print. As discourse shifts from page to screen, and more significantly to a networked environment, the old definitions and relations are undergoing substantial changes. The shift in our world view from individual to network holds the promise of a radical reconfiguraton in culture. Notions of authority are being challenged. The roles of author and reader are morphing and blurring. Publishing, methods of distribution, peer review and copyright – every crucial aspect of the way we move ideas around – is up for grabs. The new digital technologies afford vastly different outcomes ranging from oppressive to liberating. How we make this shift has critical long term implications for human society.

Our speaker will be Robert Stein, director of the Institute for the Future of the Book. The institute has two principal activities. one is building high-end tools for making rich media electronic documents (part of the Mellon Foundation’s higher-ed digital infrastructure initiative) and the other is exploring and hopefully influencing the evolution of new forms of intellectual expression and discourse. Previously Stein was the founder of The Voyager Company where over a 13-year period he led the development of over 300 titles in The Criterion Collection, a series of definitive films on videodisc, and more than 75 CD ROM titles including the CD Companion to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Who Built America, and the Voyager edition of Macbeth.

We will meet on Wednesday November 7, 2007 from 4:30-7:00 PM on George Mason University’s Fairfax campus in Room 163 of the Research 1 Building. There will be an informal dinner after the forum, at a cost of $10 per person. You must RSVP to Meredith Mayo ( mmayo1[at]gmu[dot]edu) by October 30, 2007 if you would like to have dinner.

Co-sponsored by the Center for History & New Media (CHNM) at George Mason, the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown, and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), the DC Area Technology and Humanities Forum explores important issues in humanities computing and provide an opportunity for DC area scholars interested the uses of new technology in the humanities to meet and get acquainted.

The Research 1 building is located on the main Fairfax campus of George Mason University. Parking is located directly across from the building in the Sandy Creek Parking Deck.

History Clearinghouse Contract, Omeka Grant

Friday, October 5th, 2007

The Center for History and New Media is proud to announce its award of two major grants last week from the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

CHNM received a $7 million contract from the U.S. Department of Education, one of the largest competitive grants ever won by George Mason University, to develop and maintain a National History Education Clearinghouse over the next five years in collaboration with the History Education group led by Sam Wineburg at Stanford University (SU), the American Historical Association (AHA), and the National History Center (NHC). Centered on K-12 history education, the project will aim to integrate major developments to advance history teaching and learning. The emergence of the Internet has made an unprecedented number of historical documents and resources available to teachers and students alike, while the Department of Education’s Teaching American History (TAH) program has devoted over $700 million to improve history education. Led by Roy Rosenzweig, Kelly Schrum, and Sharon Leon, the Clearinghouse project will consolidate the most informative online history content as well as provide a digital support center for American history teachers at all levels and in all locations. More specifically, the web site will focus on seven features: history education news, history content, teaching materials, best practices, policy and research, professional development and Teaching American History grants. Adding to this web-based resource will be off-line support for teachers, such as an annual two-day conference, a biannual newsletter, an annual report on the state of history education, and workshops around the country.

CHNM is also celebrating its IMLS funding for Omeka, a next-generation web-publishing platform for smaller history museums, historical societies, and historic sites. From the Swahili word meaning “to display” or “to lay out for discussion” Omeka is designed for these groups that they may not have the adequate resources or expertise necessary to create and maintain their own online tools. The free, open-source tool will allow many more museums to mount well-designed, professional-looking, and content-rich web sites without adding to their constrained budgets. It will also provide a standards-based interoperable system to share and use digital content in multiple contexts so that museums can design online exhibitions more efficiently. Beginning in October 2007, CHNM will plan, design, test, evaluate, and disseminate Omeka over four phases while working closely with our major partner, the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). MHS represents a wide museum network and a broad range of history and heritage institutions of different sizes, audiences, and subject area interests. In addition, we will make Omeka available to other small museums through conference presentations, direct mailings, and the CHNM website.

Echo Grants, NYC Digital History Workshop

Monday, October 1st, 2007

The Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce two exciting opportunities for historians of science, technology, and industry: Echo Online Collection Grants and a Doing Digital History Workshop in New York.

CHNM’s Echo project is pleased to announce the availability of up to five $1000 grants to fund current research projects involving the online collection of the recent history of science, technology, and industry. Echo offers tailored consulting services to institutions and individual researchers with online projects or ideas, including help with strategic project planning, technology, website design, and outreach in building digital history collections. Examples of projects that employ Echo methods and technologies can be found at the Echo Collecting Center and include A Thin Blue Line: The History of the Pregnancy Test Kit, a joint project by Echo and the National Institute of Health, and Remembering Columbia STS-107, an online exhibit by NASA. Please submit a grant proposal of no more than 500 words and a C.V. to *protected email* with the subject line, “Echo grant proposal,” by December 1, 2007.

CHNM also invites public historians of science, technology, and industry in the New York area to our next workshop on the theory and practice of digital history. The workshop will be held on January 17, 2008 at the New York Public Library. Participants will explore the ways that digital technologies can facilitate the research, teaching, and presentation of history; genres of online history and tools; website infrastructure and design; scholarly collaboration; digitization and online collecting; the process of identifying and building online history audiences; and issues of copyright and preservation. There is no registration fee, but spaces are limited. Please submit an application form by December 1, 2007 (available at; accepted participants will be notified by December 10.

About Echo: Since 2001, the Echo project (Exploring and Collecting History Online—Science, Technology, and Industry) has promoted the collection and dissemination of the history of science and technology on the Web with the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

CHNM Helps Launch Local History Project

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce the launch of a new project, A Look Back at Braddock District, Fairfax County, Virginia at Working with a committed team of volunteer researchers from the office of The Honorable Sharon Bulova, Braddock District Supervisor, CHNM provided technical and conceptual support for the website. Hosted by the CHNM as a community service and maintained by local residents, the site includes brief historical essays, teaching materials, and a searchable database of oral histories, photographs, and artifacts contributed by area residents.

The website is a companion to the book, Braddock’s True Gold: 20th Century Life in the Heart of Fairfax County, tracing the transformation of the Braddock area from a rural region into a sprawling suburb of Washington, D.C.

CHNM Digital Memory Banks in the News

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Two of CHNM’s “digital memory bank” projects have drawn major media attention of late, marking important landmarks in both American history and their own development.

On August 29, 2007 on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (HDMB) announced a new partnership with the Historic New Orleans Collection to present and preserve the Do You Know What It Means?, an important photo-documentary collection and long-time partner of the project. HDMB was also featured in a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Stories From the Storm.”

On September 11, 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, CHNM’s September 11 Digital Archive announced the launch an improved website that for the first time provides public access to thousands of previously unavailable artifacts. In June of 2004, the September 11 Digital Archive ceased publishing new material, though it continued to collect stories, images, and other artifacts. The collection now stands at more than 150,000 digital objects, of which only a small portion has ever been made available. With the website’s relaunch, the full scope of the archive will be accessible to both researchers and the public, tripling the extent of shared memories. This major announcement garnered significant national media attention, including articles by U.S. News and World Report and The New York Times.

Both projects are funded by major grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“Voices from the Storm” Podcast Debuts

Monday, July 30th, 2007

This summer CHNM’s Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (HDMB) features a new series of podcasts, “Voices from the Storm.” Each week, from now until the end of September, Mills Kelly and Sheila Brennan read stories submitted to the online archive. Listeners hear from hurricane evacuees and survivors, as well as from volunteers who traveled to the Gulf Coast to help with the massive recovery efforts. Subscribe to the RSS feed and receive the latest podcasts and news from HDMB.

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Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. We sponsor more than two dozen digital history projects and offer free tools and resources for historians. Learn More

Featured Project is the central online location for accessing high-quality resources in K-12 U.S. history education. Explore the highlighted content on our homepage or visit individual sections for additional materials.