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Go Local: Expanding Capacity for Public History in York County: Resources

A partnership between YCCC & seven collaborating institutions funded by a Digital Humanities Advancement Planning Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Digital Tools for Humanists (an evolving list)

CurateScape is an open source tool for creating digital exhibitions that offers free as well as fee-based accounts with exanded support and function. Here's an example of an exhibit that my colleague Jessica Parr created with her students at Simmons College: Black Boston Tour

Drupal is a content management software system, similar to Wordpress, but with more advanced capabilities.  It is free and open source, but also has fee-based services. I don't know much about it, except that its code is widely used. I suggest looking at the case studies if you are interested in reviewing it.

Knight Lab at Northwestern University offers (and continues to develop) a variety of open-source storytelling tools primarily aimed at journalists but also suited to the needs of many other users, including students, museums, historical societies and bloggers.For example, Juxtapose allows you to  compare two maps and also to lay one map over another to get a sense of how an area has changed over time. The Timeline app allows users to develop a timeline with images and text. (If you explore Knight Lab, I suggest reviewing one or two features rather than try to cover all of them).

MapWarper is a really cool tool with which you can georectify historical maps to match a modern map. If you browse "Kittey", you'll find the 1872 map that I uploaded and then geo-rectified (although I didn't go much beyond that step). I can envision many interesting uses of this tool, expecially when combined with 'slider' or changing opacity tools that allow a user to peal back a new map or an old map to see what's beneath.

Omeka is an open source web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media rich-online exhibits. Omeka Classic (the original) is aimed "individual projects and educators" whereas Omeka S is "Omeka on Steroids" and aimed at institutions that want to share materials. I suggest browsing through Omeka Classic and the "showcase" to see what's possible with this platform; it has more archiving power than a platform like WordPress, so is a good choice if you want to combine archiving with exhibits.

Scalar is a free open-source"book"- publishing platform. Originally developed to help scholars publish 'born-digital' scholarship online, it has a wide variety of potential uses. Users can pull together media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical experience required. They have regularly introductory webinars, typically one during each of the traditional academic semesters. one recent example of a Scalar project is the online companion to Our Beloved Kin, Lisa Brooks's 2018 revisionist history of King Philips's War.

StoryMaps is an easy-to-use tool to link text and pictures to tell a story. Use the "Story Map Cascade" app to create a walking or driving tour with photos and texts linked to each destination,and then embed the tour link into your website. The "Story Map Journal" app can be used to create in-depth narrative content organized into sections with varied content such as a maps, images, and  video.StoryMaps is not an open-source tool but offers free accounts with access to these tools.Here's an example of a project I am working on to use in a class I teach where we read Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's memoir, Farewell to Manzanar. My "Journal" Map (still a work in process) combines my own photos with public domain photos of the Manzanar Relocation Center: A Visit to Manzanar Relocation Center.






Public history and related humanities resources

DigitalMaine: The DigitalMaine Repository is a partnership of the Maine State Library, Maine State Archives and community institutions around the state committed to providing access to Maine history, ensuring transparency in government, and sharing the stories of the people and places of the Pine Tree State. As a repository, DIgitalMaine offers small (as well as large) organizations a "home" for digital materials of many kinds. DigitalMaine also partners with Digital Public Library of America, which offers up even more interesting material related to Maine, thanks to other partners such as the National Archives and Mass Archives.

HistoryIT: This Portland-based company provides a range of digital services to cultural institutions, universities, corporations, and other organizations, including preservation, digitization, website development and hosting, and strategic planning. One well-known client is the now-defunct SALT Institute for Documentary Studies: The Salt Story Archive preserves 100 stories capturing the culture, landscape and people of Maine. 

Library of Congress: A resource for all topics related to digital humanities and public history, including best practices and format recommendations for digital preservation.  As part of the Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers the Maine State Library is now digitizing historic newspapers via the NEH-funded Maine Newspaper Project.

Maine Archives and Museums (MADA): Maine's professional association representing museums, archives, historical societies, and other collecting organizations.  MADA offers regular workshops and also organizes an annual fall conference.

Maine Memory Network: The MMN of the Maine Historical Society has long been a leader in public history, and serves as a statewide digital museum providing access to over 43,000 historical items from  270+ museums, archives, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations from every corner of Maine. Partners with small (or large) organizations to develop online collections and exhibits.

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University develops online teaching resources, digital collections and exhibits, and open-source software, and also offers training in digital literacy and skills. A good place to see "what's possible" in terms of digital exhibitions and digital storytelling. As a leading insitution in digital humanities, RRCHNM has the funding and expertise to do very sophisticated projects. However, much of what you see at this website can be "downscaled" to almost any institution or budget.


Grant & other funding opportunities

NEH: Common Heritage program, Division of Preservation and Access: “Common Heritage will support both the digitization of cultural heritage materials and the organization of outreach through community events that explore and interpret these materials as a window on the community’s history and culture.” (e.g. community-wide digitization days and related public events)

Digital Programs for the Public, Division of Public programs: “The Digital Projects for the Public program supports projects that interpret and analyze humanities content in primarily digital platforms and formats, such as websites, mobile applications and tours, interactive touch screens and kiosks, games, and virtual environments. The projects must be designed to attract broad public audiences.”

NEH: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources, Division of Preservation and Access “The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources (HCRR) program supports projects that provide an essential underpinning for scholarship, education, and public programming in the humanities. Thousands of libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations across the country maintain important collections of books and manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and moving images, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art and material culture, and digital objects. Funding from this program strengthens efforts to extend the life of such materials and make their intellectual content widely accessible, often through the use of digital technology.”

NEH: Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections: “The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) program helps cultural institutions meet the complex challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting sustainable conservation measures that mitigate deterioration, prolong the useful life of collections, and support institutional resilience: the ability to anticipate and respond to natural and man-made disasters.”

MADA: Maine Archives and Museums:  Look under “Fundraising”for a length list of grant opportunities and other resources

Tutorials, how-to, and other resources

The Programming Historian features novice-friendly, peer-reviewed tutorials that help humanists learn a wide range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows to facilitate research and teaching. The site features incredible resources, with tutorials on everything from webmapping to twitterbots to textmining and a whole lot more.

THATCamp: The Humanities and Technology Camp is an open, inexpensive meeting where humanities and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together. Locations of THATCamps vary; check the website for an upcoming camp opportunities.Recent locations of THATCamps include the University of Maine/Orono and Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

Digital Curation Program at University of Maine: This online graduate certificate program, aimed at archivists, humanists, technologists and anyone working with data preservation and curation, offers courses that teach students how to collect, make collections accessible via databases and websites, and preserve and and manage digitized assets.

For QR Codes: see "Q & A: Make a quick QR-code"  from Gadgetwise of The New York Times Blog (March 2011) and How to: Make Your QR Codes More Beautiful, from Mashable.



Reclaim Hosting is a one-stop shop web hosting service specifically aimed at supporting educational institutions of all kinds, including universities, museums, historical societies and libraries. WordPress, Omeka, and other applicaitons can be uploaded into a Reclaim shell, which provide tools to built relational databases useful for collections. Sliding scale pricing makes their services affordable to small institutions.

Wordpress is an open source platform for setting up basic web sites with multiple pages. When combined with the power of the tools in Reclaim, you can build some very complex sites on a Wordpress Foundation. I've had a simple Wordpress personal site for years, The Maniacal Traveler (  As I understand it, the difference between and is that Wordpress. com allows you to set up an account for free, but you have to host it somewhere (HostGator, Reclaim, or even WordPress itself). is the actual code for Wordpress, which you download to your own server.

Miscellaneous other resources

“Fair Use and Copyright.Northeast Document Conservation Center.

“Fair use.Center for Media and Social Impact.  School of Communication, American University.

Maine Memory Network: Legal Restrictions and Copyright

“Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Collections Containing Orphan Works for Libraries, Archives, and other Memory Institutions. Center for Media and Social Impact. School of Communication, American University.




Story Maps Sampler



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