Digital projects foster ownership. Whether you’re a PI, a collaborator, or a student worker whom transcribes or scans documents, chances are you feel proud of the work you’ve done. That part of the project exists because of your hard work. A thoughtful PI usually includes a credits page that resembles the credits of a movie, with everyone’s name and contribution listed. Two projects on which I worked and wish to share were both funded through IMLS National Leadership Grants.
From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont
The first project, From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont, is a collection of transcribed and TEI-encoded letters and a diary from a young woman, named Ruth Sturley, who set out from Tacoma Washington in the early 1900’s to work as a teacher in a settlement school in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The school was built and operated by the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women and Ruth was a member. The project also includes scanned photos from scrapbooks, images of artwork, essays, magazine articles, and K-8 curriculum packages. The Pi Phi’s operated the school until the 1960’s, at which point the county took over the education needs of the residents. In a remarkable shift, the school transitioned to a non-profit focused on arts and crafts.
St. Louis Legal Encoding / Freedom Suits Project
The other project is the St. Louis Legal Encoding / Freedom Suits Project. The collection contains over 300 cases in which slaves sued for their freedom through the St. Louis Circuit Court. The most famous of these cases is Dred Scott’s. But, what about all of the other voices which lay dormant in the Missouri State Archives? Projects such as this protect our history and heritage, no matter how unflattering it is. One component I love about this project is the dynamic visualization that allows users to see and enter the collection in a different way. Relationships between people, organizations, and documents are encoded; and users can see how people connect to one another. Another part of the project was the development of legal extensions for the TEI. The XML schema is currently hosted on GitHub if you wish to use it.
Share Your Project
It’s easy to focus on just completing the project, but what about publicizing it? What about getting it into the hands of those for whom you created the work? I shared two projects, which are great resources for teachers, students, and whomever may have a passing interest in the topics.
What digital projects would you like to share? Why are they wonderful and what would you like people to know about them?