The American Library Association’s Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) committee included History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web on its sixth annual list of Best Free Reference Web Sites. The annual series recognizes “outstanding reference sites” that meet a list of criteria including quality, depth and usefulness of content; “ready” reference; availability; ease of use; currency of content; authority of producer; uniqueness of content; and the appropriate use of the web as a medium.
On the 25th anniversary of the home pregnancy test kit, the National Institutes of Health and CHNM launched A Thin Blue Line, a new web exhibit that explores the history of the pregnancy test kit from the NIH laboratory to the digital age, and encourages women to add their own stories to the history of the pregnancy test through an online survey.
A Thin Blue Line includes a historical timeline of pregnancy testing, portrayals of the pregnancy test in popular culture, and scientific background on the research that led to the development of the test. Personal narratives submitted anonymously are part of the exhibit, and all responses will be permanently archived by the ECHO project for future students and scholars.
In partnership with the George Mason University’s National Center for Technology & Law, CHNM has launched a three-year project to document the evolution of U.S. critical infrastructure protection policy in the years leading up to September 11, 2001. Through face-to-face and telephone interviews with members of the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection and other key policy makers, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Oral History Project seeks to provide insights into the lively debates that have shaped the national response to new threats and a valuable tool for charting a course for the future. A well-attended reception to mark the project’s launch was held on February 4, 2004 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, where CHNM staff member Tom Scheinfeldt presented the project to members of the President’s Commission, industry executives, national security personnel, and other interview subjects. For more information on the project and its aims, see http://echo.gmu.edu/CIPP/.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity was nominated for inclusion in the EDSITEment project in response to an open call for nominations posted on its website and on several humanities listservs. The site was then reviewed by both a peer review panel and a Blue Ribbon panel composed of educators and administrators in education organizations and higher education institutions. Both panels determined that the site met the EDSITEment criteria for intellectual quality, content, design, and most importantly, classroom impact.
One year after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the NASA History Office has partnered with ECHO’s Shuttle Archive to collect personal reflections on space exploration as part of an online exhibit about Columbia’s mission and crew. The exhibit includes NASA photos, documents, and reports of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. A link to the ECHO Shuttle Archive allows visitors to submit their thoughts on the loss of the Columbia and view additional materials including government reports, scientific research abstracts, and media coverage of the event.
In November 2003, CHNM acquired DoHistory, a website that explores the life of eighteenth-century New England midwife Martha Ballard, whose diary was the basis for Lauren Thatcher Ulrich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Laurie Kahn-Leavitt’s PBS film, both entitled A Midwife’s Tale. CHNM acquired the website from the Film Study Center at Harvard University, where the website was developed. DoHistory features the entire text of Martha Ballard’s diary, more than 300 documents on eighteenth-century New England life and culture, behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of the book and the film, teaching materials, and practical guides on how to conduct and publish historical research.
CHNM, in partnership with eight Northern Virginia school districts, received two three-year Teaching American History grants from the Department of Education in October 2003. Creating a More Perfect Community, a joint project with Alexandria City Public Schools, provides U.S. history instructors with professional development focused on content and skills specifically related to teaching history, including the use of primary sources and new media. Peopling the American Past, a partnership with Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Manassas City, Orange, and Winchester school districts, similarly provides professional development centered on improving the teaching of U.S. history in elementary, middle, and high schools. The project also involves Special Education and ESL teachers who incorporate U.S. history content into their curricula.
In October 2003, CHNM and Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship hosted “What Can Good Web Design Do for Humanities Projects: Reflections and Case Studies.” The forum provided an opportunity for scholars, designers, and interested students to discuss how technical design as expressed through the web encouraged or discouraged learning. Brad Johnson of Second Story reviewed sites his company has produced, showing how advanced designs that harnessed such technology as Flash enabled users to simulate experiences such as touring Egyptian tombs. George Mason University Professors Michael O’Malley and Paula Petrik discussed the importance of not just using the web as a bulletin board, but of harnessing the medium’s capacity to stimulate unmediated learning among students and multi-sensory presentation of historical materials.
This fall’s Washington DC Area Forum on Technology and the Humanities focuses on “What Can Good Web Design Do for Humanities Projects: Reflections and Case Studies.”
Our panelists are Brad Johnson, Creative Director, and Julie Beeler, Studio Director, of Second Story (http://www.secondstory.com) and Mike O’Malley and Paula Petrik, Associate Directors, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.
We will meet at George Mason University’s (GMU) Johnson Center, Assembly Room A, on Thursday, October 2, 2002 from 4:30-6:30 PM. There will be an informal dinner after the forum. The cost for the dinner (Thai food) will be $10. Please RSVP for dinner by 25 September to Joan Fragaszy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Co-sponsored by the Center for History & New Media (CHNM) at GMU and the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown, 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.
Following the massive power outages that hit the northeastern United States in August 2003, The Blackout Project – a CHNM website that covers the history of New York City’s great blackouts of 1965 and 1977 – received sudden, unprecedented attention. The news media as well and those who remember the earlier blackouts came to the site to learn more and to reminisce. Almost a hundred people added their stories to the growing oral history archive on the site.