ReSounding the Archives

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) received a 4-VA Research Grant to fund the digital project, ReSounding the Archives.

ReSounding the Archives is an interdisciplinary collaboration that brings together digital humanities, history, and music. Partners include:



The project’s goal is literally to “re-sound” the archives — to bring World War I sheet music to life through recordings and live performances. Students from Mason, UVA, and VT will work together to select, research, and record music, exploring history from new vantage points. The project website will provide digitized sheet music, historical context, and usable recordings of each song.

Contemporary students live very musical lives. Allowing professors to integrate historical sheet music into their undergraduate and graduate courses via audio recordings will provide a way for students to historicize that experience and deeply engage historical resources through lyrics, artwork, and the songs themselves to better understand their social, cultural, and political uses. By making the recordings freely available, ReSounding the Archives also addresses the lack of historical music available for classroom use.

During spring 2018, students in Dr. Elizabeth Ozment’s “ReSounding the Archives” course at UVA, working with librarians Abigail Flanigan and Winston Barham, will select and research WWI-era sheet music. Students in the English and History departments at VT, led by Trudy Harrington Becker, Tom Ewing, and Mark Barrow of the History department, Jim Dubinsky of the English department, and Marc Brodsky of Special Collections, will also select and research sheet music. Music students at Mason and VT will work with student sound engineers to create studio recordings of each piece. Performances and song recording will be organized by Nicole Springer, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Director, Arts Management Undergraduate Studies, and Linda Monson, Director of Mason’s School of Music and Distinguished Service Professor, in Mason’s CVPA, along with Tracy Cowden, Michael Dunston, and Brian Thorsett in the music department at VT.

On April 24, 2018, UVA will host a concert and symposium in Charlottesville for partners from all three institutions to showcase student work as well as create live musical performances that will be recorded and added to the website.

RRCHNM, led by Dr. Kelly Schrum, Associate Professor of Higher Education, and Jessica Dauterive, Digital History Fellow, are coordinating the 4VA collaboration and will build and populate the website.

This 4-VA grant will enable students, faculty, and staff to establish relationships across Virginia institutions, leading to new course development as well as opportunities for student work, research, and external funding to expand the project.

And the winner is…

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is hEagle Eye Citizen Contest Winerappy to announce that Emily O’Connell from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN is the winner of the Eagle Eye Citizen student challenge making contest.

Judges from National History Day reviewed over 200 challenges created during the contest period and selected Emily’s challenge, Becoming Law, as the winning entry.

As the winner, Emily received a pizza party for her class, a full set of the Making History series from National History Day, and a prize pack of books from the Library of Congress.

Eagle Eye Citizen engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges about Congress, American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop students’ civic understanding and historical thinking skills.

Though the contest is over, students and teachers can still make and solve challenges on the Eagle Eye Citizen website.

Created by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Eagle Eye Citizen is a Congress, Civic Participation, and Primary Sources Project and is supported by a grant from the Library of Congress.

Congratulations Emily!

Mapping the First Decade of Congressional Elections

Shifting votes for parties in the first three Congressional elections in Maryland.

Districts flip, party affiliations change, and populations and geographies shift. These and other changes are visible in Mapping Early American Election‘s first release of over 70 maps visualizing county voting returns by state from the first five U.S. Congressional elections. The project will regularly release additional Congressional maps through the nineteenth Congress in early 2018.

The new Maps section invites users to browse by Congress and state. Some states, like Maryland, saw swings in party affiliations, party competition, and regional voting patterns within the first decade of the United States. Others states, like the solidly Federalist Connecticut, did not.

Each map page reveals a state map with the results for a specific Congress, with voting districts and counties outlined that are color-coded to represent the margin of victory. For example, looking at the first election in Maryland, the state elected all Federalists (green) to Congress, even with a strong showing of support for Anti-Federalist (orange) candidates in Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties. The darker the color, the more votes received by a party in that district. It is then possible for a user to click through to the next Congress, under “Related Maps,” to compare how voting patterns changed from election to election.

Below each map, we provide a table of data that lists election returns by district (or at-large), candidate, party, vote total, percentage of votes earned. To clearly identify the winners, each elected candidate receives a check mark at the end of their row of data. There are cases when a candidate won the election, but did not serve in Congress. For the purposes of this project, we are highlighting who was elected, because our aim is to show what happened in the elections rather than what happened in Congress. For each winner who served in Congress, we provide a link to their entry in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

While this project is based in large part on A New Nation Votes, from which it draws on Philip Lampi’s work collecting elections returns, it also builds up on it. The data has been changed into a tabular form to allow data analysis; we have created the ability to join the elections data to the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries and the Digital Boundary Definitions of United States Congressional Districts, as well as to the Congressional biographies. We have also added missing electoral data. This site features maps of political parties by counties, and will soon add state maps of town data and national maps of Congressional districts. But the data, which is available as it is being developed, allows for many other kinds of maps. We will highlight some of the decisions that went into shaping the data and the ways in which it can be used on our blog.

Making the maps is no easy task. Lincoln Mullen and Jordan Bratt have been working through the data for many months. We are also grateful to project advisors, especially Philip Lampi, who painstakingly reviewed the maps before launch.

Mapping Early American Elections project’s GitHub repository includes the data we have released so far, along with the other code produced. If you are interested in the data repository, you can follow its progress through commits and issues on GitHub.

Please take some time browse the maps that represent early American voting returns for Congressional elections. What interesting patterns will you find?

{Cross-posted on Mapping Early American Elections)

Major Milestones for Omeka

Today, the Omeka team is releasing the first major point release for Omeka S: 1.0. It is available for download today. We are also revealing a redesigned,, which represents a major undertaking of effort that has happened at the edges of all other pressing design, development, and outreach work.

Omeka S 1.0

One year following the Beta, the release of Omeka S 1.0 demonstrates the stability of the platform.

Created with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Omeka S is engineered to ease the burdens of administrators who want to make it possible for their users easily build their own sites that showcase digital cultural heritage materials and share those resources as linked open data.

If you’re unfamiliar with Omeka S, take a quick tour. Play in the Sandbox to test out the S platform before installing: Get a login, then explore the Sandbox.

new omeka home

As Omeka grows, it is more important than ever to showcase all of Omeka’s platforms, and to make it easier for different users to find what they need more quickly.

It is easier to distinguish among the Omeka Classic, Omeka S, and platforms, as well as other projects such as Omeka Everywhere.

In addition to showcasing a refreshed look and feel, also boasts of some new important features:

  • New directories for themes and plugins for Omeka Classic and themes and modules for Omeka S; plus a streamlined process for registering any addon;
  • Updated user manuals and developer documentation for Classic and S;
  • History of the Omeka project.

This also is a good time to remind you that you can partner with the Omeka Team on a grant or hire us to plan & scope digital projects; to design Omeka sites; to develop new functionality or custom add-ons; or to run a workshop. Learn more about Omeka Services, and how we can help.

Omeka Team

When Sharon Leon, Tom Scheinfeldt, Jeremy Boggs, and I submitted the first grant proposal to build “Omeka,” we could not have predicted its forthcoming success and wide adoption as a scholarly communications platform by cultural heritage professionals, instructors, and students around the globe. This success comes because of a talented team throughout the years, who was dedicated to open-source ethics and good practices; user-centered design; standardized metadata; outreach to users and developers; detailed documentation; and support, together with funding from multiple agencies and foundations our funders over the years who has made this work

I recently took over as Director of Omeka, and I couldn’t be prouder of the talented team I get to work with every day. Today’s major milestones are possible through their dedication and hard work:

  • John Flatness: Omeka Lead Developer
  • Jim Safley: Omeka Senior Developer and database/metadata architect
  • Kim Nguyen: Omeka Lead UI/UX Developer
  • Patrick Murray-John: Omeka’s Director of Developer Outreach
  • Megan Brett: Omeka End User Outreach and Testing Coordinator
  • Ken Albers: project manager for the hosted service, and Omeka web developer
  • Sharon Leon: Director of Omeka Services and Associate Professor of Digital History at Michigan State University
  • Alyssa Fahringer: End User Testing Associate
  • Jannelle Legg: End User Testing Associates

We also count on users like you to support us. Thank you for contributing code and documentation; for teaching workshops and creating LibGuides; and for helping us to continue moving the project forward.

So today, test drive Omeka S 1.0 and browse the new, and give us your feedback on the Forums.

Eagle Eye Citizen takes flight!

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is proud to announce the launch of Eagle Eye Citizen, a Congress, Civic Participation, and Primary Sources Project supported by a grant from the Library of Congress.

Eagle Eye Citizen engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges about Congress, American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop students’ civic understanding and historical thinking skills.

Engaging Challenges

RRCHNM conceptualized three challenge types for students and teachers to solve and create:

  • Time After Time — Students examine five Library of Congress primary sources related to Congress and civic participation. As students look closely at each source, they drag and drop it into the timeline. Students explore connections across time and determine relationships between sources. This challenge emphasizes sequencing and periodization.
  • Big Picture — Students carefully examine one Library of Congress primary source piece-by-piece to build an overall understanding. As details are revealed, students determine what the big picture is and answer a thought-provoking question about its meaning or purpose. Students use evidence to draw conclusions about a topic. This challenge emphasizes sourcing and close reading.
  • Sort it Out — Students are presented with two categories and six Library of Congress primary sources. Looking closely at each source, students drag and drop it into one of the categories until all six are accurately sorted. In this challenge, students carefully analyze primary sources to identify common themes. This challenge emphasizes central ideas, chronology, and contextualization.

Look closer iconRRCHNM incorporated the Library’s primary source analysis method — Observe, Question, Reflect — into the interactive design as students note their observations, questions, and reflections. This allows teachers to check for conceptual understanding and student skills in observation and analysis.

Compelling Primary Sources

At the heart of Eagle Eye Citizen are more than 300 Library of Congress primary sources for solving or creating challenges. These include maps, photographs, documents, political cartoons, and audio/video materials.

Primary sources include American foundational documents such as the U.S. Constitution, as well as sources such as a speech by A. Philip Randolph to the National Press Club before the March on Washington (August 1963), a veterans oral history with Warren Michio Tsuneishi, a Japanese American who served as a translator during World War II in the Pacific; a 1903 Edison film clip of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island; a Lewis Hine photograph of the National Child Labor Committee; legislation from, such as the text of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act; a 1920 political cartoon regarding women’s suffrage, and an image of members of the Native American Women Warriors, an association of active duty and retired American Indians in the U.S military service.

The collection also includes sheet music, such as the George M. Cohan song Over There. RRCHNM, working with musicians and singers, made recordings of these historic songs to accompany the sheet music. It is one thing to read the lyrics, but it is another to hear the words to the intended melody. Teachers and students have responded very favorably to this addition.

“Love this idea! So hard to find great interactive/cross curricular content for social studies.”

-Social Studies and ELA teacher from Texas

Student Engagement

Students earn votes to become a “Master Legislator” and badges for solving and creating challenges related to citizenship, civil rights, the Constitution, elections and the legislative branch. Students also earn votes when other students solve and rate their challenges.

Teacher Support

Eagle Eye Citizen includes a Teach section with videos, handouts, lesson planning ideas, resources, and tips for differentiation.

Videos introduce teachers to Eagle Eye Citizen.

Eagle Eye Citizen Contest

RRCHNM is partnering with National History Day ® to hold a challenge-making contest November 13 through December 4. All students who create challenges during this period will be entered to win a class pizza party. National History Day will judge each challenge on thoughtful use of Library of Congress primary sources. The winner will be announced in early December.

Become an Eagle Eye Citizen today!












New teaching materials on World War II in the Pacific available

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is proud to announce the launch of new materials related to World War II in the Pacific on the award-winning website Understanding Sacrifice, created in partnership with National History Day ®(NHD) for the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and the VA National Cemetery Administration (NCA) .

Personal perspective on the war

Katie Hoerner at USS Arizona Memorial

As part of the summer field study, social studies teacher, Katie Hoerner (above), and her fellow teachers visited the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii. Photo by C. Gorn.

One of the most arresting features of the site is the gallery of Fallen Heroes. This past school year, 18 teachers from around the country each selected a WWII service member or civilian buried or memorialized in an ABMC or NCA cemetery to research. The connection to the teacher might have been geographic, such as the case of social studies teacher Katie Hoerner, who chose to research the life of fellow Illinoisan Bruce Bradley who died on the USS Arizona. For social studies teacher, Matt Poth, the connection to his fallen hero, William Seiverling Jr., came from their shared Marine Corps experience. California special education teacher Jose Cumagun shared a connection to the Philippines with his fallen hero, Teofilo Yldefonzo, an Olympic medalist and Philippine Scout.

Several teachers have chosen to include their students in the research process. The teachers find that researching an individual makes the war more personal for their students and they report that their students are engaged in the historical research process.

To help other teachers embark on this type of research, the site includes a new section, Researching a Fallen Hero, which provides teachers with lesson plan ideas, tips, handouts and examples of how to conduct this type of research in a classroom. Written by Kevin Wagner, a high school social studies teacher whose students have researched the lives of service members for several years, the section also includes videos from Wagner’s classroom of the process in action.

Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans

Whitney Joyner at the Opana radar station

STEM teacher Whitney Joyner, standing in front of the tower at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, prepares to deliver her video introduction about RADAR’s role in the Pearl Harbor attack. Photo by C. Preperato.

This year’s cohort of 18 teachers represented diverse teaching backgrounds in social studies, language arts, visual arts, and performing arts. The lessons, designed for middle and high school classrooms, reflect this diversity. For example:

  • Under Their Wing explores the impact of flight nurses in the Pacific theater through analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • RADAR: Innovating Naval Warfare, a STEM lesson, asks students to plot an attack on an enemy convoy in order to understand how RADAR impacted the war.
  • Race and Tragedy on the Home Front, invites students to compare different versions of events related to Port Chicago, CA, the site of the worst disaster on the home front that killed 320 sailors and civilians, mostly African American.
  • The Song of War introduces students to poetry created by the Hell Hawks, a Marine fighter squadron, and invites them to create their own found poetry.

Professional Development Resources

Understanding Sacrifice also includes a new PD Resources section that includes a series of short videos related to different aspects of World War II. Featuring project historian Christopher Hamner analyzing primary sources, these videos cover topics such as African American Experiences, Comparing Cemeteries, D-Day in Documents, Race and the Enemy, Why They Fight, and Women in the Workforce, among others. Teachers can watch these short videos for professional development or they can use them in their classroom. Each video page provides links to the original primary sources discussed.

About Understanding Sacrifice

Sponsored by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and the VA National Cemetery Administration (NCA), Understanding Sacrifice is an 18-month professional development program for secondary teachers. Working with the team from National History Day® and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, 18 teachers annually create free, interdisciplinary lessons to share with other educators. The goal is to bring ABMC and NCA resources into classrooms to help students better understand the service, experience, and sacrifice of American service members during World War II.








Scripto Update Funded by NEH

We are pleased to announce that the Omeka team has an opportunity to upgrade its popular Scripto tool with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities (NEH-ODH). Scripto is a free, open-source tool used for collaborative online transcriptions of documents and multimedia files, originally funded by the NEH-ODH in 2009, used by many.

We are grateful for this opportunity to redesign Scripto as a module for Omeka S, and to generate new documentation and guidance that will assist other cultural heritage organizations in managing their own community transcription projects.

This work will coincide with the migration of the Papers of the War Department digital documentary edition to Omeka S with funding from the American Council of Learned Societies.


Digital History PhD Fellowships available for Fall 2018

We’re pleased to announce that the Department of History & Art History at George Mason University has received another round of funding from the Provost’s Ph.D. Award Program to admit two Digital History Fellows to the Ph.D. program in each of the next three years.

Fellows enrolling in Fall 2018 will receive stipends of $20,000 for two years, during which time they will take a practicum course each semester here at RRCHNM, and then a further three years of support from the Department of History and Art History. The practicum courses provide an opportunity to be part of a digital history center and to contribute to a range of projects across all three of the Center’s divisions. Syllabi for the practicum courses can be found on the Fellows’ blog, which also includes posts by all six cohorts of fellows reflecting on their experiences at the Center.

Students interested in applying to the GMU History PhD program and being a Digital history Fellow should consult the information on the department website or contact the department’s graduate director, Sam Lebovic. Applications close January 15, 2018.

Tropy 1.0 Release

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce the launch of Tropy version 1.0. Tropy is the software that researchers have long-needed to organize and describe the large numbers of photographs they take in archives and libraries of their sources. Tropy is free and open source, and available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Just some of the features Tropy offers:

  • Attach descriptive metadata — such as title, author, date, archive, collection — to your photos individually or in bulk, using customizable templates
  • Organize your photos using tags or lists
  • Merge multiple photos into a single item, to group photos of your multi-page sources
  • Manipulate your photos so you can read them more easily
  • Attach notes or transcriptions to your photos, or to a selection from a photo
  • Create templates that include the information you need to know about your sources
  • Search the descriptive metadata, tags, and notes to find the sources you need
  • Export your items in JSON-LD

Visit Tropy’s extensive documentation to learn how to use the software to describe your research. And please feel free to post questions, problems, and feedback to Tropy’s support forums.

Our thanks to Tropy’s awesome development team:

  • Sylvester Keil, lead developer
  • Johannes Krtek, product designer
  • Kirill Stytsenko, developer
  • Abby Mullen, project manager
  • Jim Safley, metadata consultant

And special thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for funding this project, to our partner institutions for offering feedback, and to our beta users for testing Tropy throughout its development.

Annual Report 2016-2017

Our second short annual report has recently been mailed out to RRCHNM’s friends and supporters. Produced in collaboration with the Development Office of College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the annual report describes project launches and grants for new projects in the academic year 2016-2016. In it you can find brief descriptions of five of those new projects, and of a busy year of teaching, training, and professional development.  A report on the Center’s endowment completes the document.

A copy can be downloaded here.