Reflections on the End of the Semester

For the last part of our first semester at RRCHNM, we were asked to create Omeka exhibits for the 20th anniversary website.  Since I’m studying the Revolutionary Era and have been interested in the Papers of the War Department since I arrived at the center earlier this fall, it was an easy decision to take on PWD for an Omeka exhibit.  However, the farther along I got into the project, the more complicated I realized it was going to be.

In all honesty, it took me a lot longer than normal to figure out what the heck I was doing.  It’s not that I misunderstood the directions, it’s that I couldn’t wrap my head around telling the story of PWD with Omeka without  replicating the site that already existed.  How do you tell the history of a virtual archive and a plugin like Scripto without much visual data outside of grants?  I wasn’t alone either.  Jordan, Alyssa, and I all stared at each other for a few days over our projects, trying to figure out how we can get our stories across without being text heavy and with more visuals.

Fortunately, Sharon Leon—director of Public Projects—came to my rescue.  Sharon not only told me  the fascinating story behind the creation of PWD, but she graciously gave me sets of graphs, an article she had written about Scripto and PWD, and a few leads on what would make great visuals for an Omeka exhibit.  Since we only had to have four pages for our exhibit, I decided to dedicate one page to Sharon’s article and graphs, one page on reviews of PWD by outside sources, a narrative on the creation of Scripto for PWD, and a page on Scripto from the administrator’s point of view.  While my themes don’t exactly tell a fluid narrative, with only four pages and a topic with very few visuals, the project turned out fine.

However, I will add that this exhibit was definitely not my best from the rush of the end of the semester and the amount of visuals I had to tell my story.  I am very excited that Dr. Robertson is letting us work on our exhibits into next semester and on our own time because I still believe that there is much to be done on the project and resources that I have yet to tap into.  I believe that adding a few oral histories on people who worked on both PWD and Scripto, as well as copies of grants would make this project much better.  The story of PWD is fascinating and deserves a clear and detailed exhibit, which is something that calls for much more time, research, and resources.  I have all the faith that this project will come together in the spring.

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