History 696:

The Final Project


Prospectus (for proposal) Due: 21 October

Project Proposal Due: 2 December (but half the class will make oral presentation on 25 November).

The final project for this course is to write a proposal for a digital history project. Although most people will decide to propose something for the World Wide Web, you can propose to use any media (e.g., cd-rom or floppy disk) in which you will convey information in the past in digital form.

The project can encompass any of the different genres of historical presentation that we have discussed in the course, e.g., an archive, an electronic essay, a textual edition, an exhibit, a teaching resource,or a discussion area.

Proposals, which will be presented on-line, must contain the features listed below, although you can organize your presentation in whatever format you prefer. The answers you provide you should be more than cursory; you should be writing at least 3,000 words of prose in most cases. You should try to make a convincing case for why your proposal makes sense and why, for example, an organization or funder might support it.

1. An explanation of the scope of the project and the genre of project you are proposing.  This would include a discussion of the content of the site (what kinds of thing are you going to include) as well as the audience(s) for the site (who is the site for and how are you going to reach that audience).

2. An overall map (visual or prose or both) of the structure of the site and how people will navigate through.

3. A rationale for why a digital format makes sense rather than some traditional format.

4. A review and analysis of sites/project that are similar in content and genre and how your project builds upon or improves upon what has already been done.  

5. A concrete discussion of the technical plan for producing the site, e.g., what kinds of software tools will you use? Will it be done as a database or as flat html pages? You should base this section of the proposal, in part, on examining closely a site that  you see as a model (even a partial model) for what you want to do. Try to carefully examine the architecture and design of that site to figure out what is involved. You should interview (phone or email) one of the creators of that site (or another related one) to find out what steps they took and what barriers they encountered.

6. A home page for the project.

Groups of two or three people could propose to work together on these projects. If so, you should be aware of the following caveats. The expectation in terms of scale and quality of work increases directly with the number of people involved. Projects done by two people should naturally be twice as large and/or well developed as those done by one person. Groups will need to accept that all members of the group will receive the same grade for the project, unless you can come up with an alternative arrangement to which we can all agree.

Oral Presentation: On 25 November or 2 December, you will make a 10-15 minute presentation of your proposal. You should try to "sell" your idea and the rest of the class should serve as a friendly but skeptical review board.

Some sample Graduate student hypertext projects