Eagle Eye Citizen takes flight at National History Day

What happens when you combine more than 3,000 students who love history with an online challenge-making contest using primary sources from the Library of Congress and then sweeten the pot with a $50 Amazon gift card? That is what we wanted to find out at the National History Day® (NHD) Contest held June 11-June 15, 2017, at University of Maryland, College Park.

During the NHD Contest, RRCHNM held a challenge-making contest for Eagle Eye Citizen, a new interactive website that uses primary sources from the Library of Congress to help develop students’ civic understanding and historical thinking skills. The contest created a buzz among students and teachers who love history and invited students to create challenges before the upcoming project launch.

Students from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, China, Korea, and South Asia came to this year’s contest. Each year, more than half a million students create historical research projects in one of five categories: documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, or websites.

NHD EEC winner

Kyle Nguyen, a rising junior from Palm Harbor University High, Florida won the Eagle Eye Citizen challenge making contest at NHD.

A panel of NHD judges reviewed each Eagle Eye Citizen challenge entry and selected Kyle Nguyen, a rising junior from Palm Harbor University High, Florida, as the winner of the Amazon gift card. Kyle created the challenge, Breaking Free, that invites users to decide whether selected primary sources represent the 1st or the 13th Amendment. Sources included a copy of the Bill of Rights, an 1866 piece of sheet music titled “Protect the Freedman,” an 1840 broadside for “Friends of Harrison and Reform,” and a pie chart showing the composition of church membership from the 1890 census. Kyle’s success stemmed from his reflection on why he selected these sources along with his accompanying hints. He clearly demonstrated his goal of helping users look closely and find clues within each source. Student reflections are built into every Eagle Eye Citizen challenge and are helpful for teachers to assess understanding.

Students received limited-edition Eagle Eye Citizen buttons to collect or trade at the NHD Contest.

EEC button at NHD contest

Students that made Eagle Eye Citizen challenges received this limited edition button to keep or trade during the NHD contest.

The NHD contest also provided the opportunity to share Eagle Eye Citizen with teachers from around the globe. On June 12, Graduate Research Assistant, Sara Collini, and Digital Teaching and Learning Specialist, Nate Sleeter, introduced Eagle Eye Citizen to about 40 teachers during a NHD professional development session. Teachers shared their enthusiasm for the project and appreciated how the site could help differentiate challenges to meet students’ interests and abilities.

Eagle Eye Citizen is supported by a grant from the Library of Congress. The full site will launch for the 2017-18 school year. Stay tuned!




ACLS Digital Extension Grant to Migrate Papers of the War Department

We are excited to announce that the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) awarded Sheila Brennan and RRCHNM one of five digital extension grants to migrate the Papers of the War Department 1784-1800, (PWD) an online documentary edition comprising nearly 43,000 digital documents, to Omeka S to revitalize and stabilize this legacy digital humanities project. The migration will allow for an efficient upgrade of the infrastructure and will provide a path for long-term preservation and access, while also allowing the team to redesign the user interface thus enabling greater use and discoverability of these early federal documents.

On November 8, 1800, fire destroyed the US War Department office and the records held within. For over 200 years, the records of one of the first federal agencies, representing much of the early government’s work, were unavailable for research and learning. The papers do not merely record military matters, but also how the Department handled Native American affairs, veterans’ pensions, and procurement from merchants across the nation. The War Office was the nation’s largest single consumer of fabric, clothing, shoes, food, medicine, building materials, and weapons of all kinds.  Ted Crackel and staff at East Stroudsburg University led a decade-long effort to digitize and unite copies of nearly 43,000 lost documents,  and then transferred those assets to RRCHNM in 2006. The Papers of the War Department (PWD) website presents digitized copies and richly-described metadata of the papers, together with community-contributed transcriptions.

Once fully migrated to Omeka S, the project’s existing metadata, which includes the names of thousands of individuals and geographic places referenced in correspondence, will be connected across the semantic web as linked open data. Jim Safely, PWD’s original web architect, will lead the migration process, and Kim Nguyen, RRCHNM’s Lead Web Designer, will redesign the PWD user experience.

PWD’s Editor-in-Chief, Christopher Hamner will work with Brennan to develop four learning modules for use in upper-level high school and introductory undergraduate courses. Enhanced documentation and outreach combined with a new system will make the Papers of the War Department more intuitive and inviting as it expands the project’s user base of scholars, students and teachers, history enthusiasts, and genealogists, and researchers of all levels.

We are extremely grateful to ACLS for this opportunity to extend and sustain access to these important documents from the early American republic.

New IMLS Grant Helps RRCHNM to Train Librarians in Doing Digital Local History

We are pleased to announce that the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) a three-year grant to develop and run professional development opportunities that train public librarians in facilitating local digital history programs across the country.

Sheila Brennan and Sharon Leon will lead the Creating Local Linkages project that will introduce approximately 300 public librarians to a range of historical research methods and digital history skills through online courses and in-person workshops. Stephen Robertson and Megan Brett will contribute to course and workshop development, and Kim Nguyen and Jim Safely will design and develop the online course environment in WordPress.

In support of those training opportunities, the project will develop and launch a curricula of open educational resources that can be used, reused, and remixed by any other organization or individual. Through this online program, RRCHNM will invite librarians to dive into their primary and secondary collections with the eyes of an historian and to expand their digital skills, at their own pace.

By offering different professional development opportunities, Creating Local Linkages will support librarians interested in developing public programming that engages their patrons in creating digital local histories that will benefit their communities at large.

RRCHNM has significant experience designing in-person and online training for mid-career professionals, and looks forward to beginning work on the grant during the summer of 2017.


“Arguing with Digital History” Workshop to Address a Central Problem in Digital History

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce that it will hold a workshop this fall titled “Arguing with Digital History: A Workshop on Using Digital History to Make Arguments for Academic Audiences.” Generously funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the workshop will bring twenty-four historians to George Mason University on September 15–16, 2017. Along with the workshop organizers, Stephen Robertson and Lincoln Mullen, these historians will address a pressing problem in digital history.

More than twenty years after the earliest work in digital history, there are still only a handful of projects that make explicit arguments in conversation with the scholarly literature for an academic audience. This shortcoming means that while digital history is a vibrant field, it has made only slight contributions to the broader historical discipline.

This workshop aims to encourage argument-driven digital history that contributes to disciplinary conversations. The participants will discuss conceptual and structural issues involved in argumentation for academic audiences. The workshop participants have been selected for their expertise in a range of digital history methodologies—including 3D analysis, network analysis, digital collections, and mapping and spatial analysis—as well as the chronological range their historical fields. The workshop aims to identify the reasons that digital historians have been slow to make arguments, and to draw up a set of guidelines to encourage digital historical argumentation.

The participants will write a group-authored white paper on general principles for integrating digital tools and methods with the arguments and historical interpretations at the core of academic history. The white paper will also give scholars examples of how to apply those principles using specific digital history methods in specific historical periods. A session discussing the white paper will be part of the program of the American Historical Association annual meeting in Washington D.C. in January 2018.

The “Arguing with Digital History” workshop is parallel to another of the Center’s initiatives to encourage digital history argumentation. The Center also recently announced a new annual conference and peer-reviewed publication, Current Research in Digital History, which will provide a venue for presenting and publishing discipline-specific argumentation in digital history.

RRCHNM thanks the workshop participants for their willingness to spend time on this important issue to the field.


Workshop participants

  • Edward Ayers, University of Richmond
  • Edward Baptist, Cornell University
  • Cameron Blevins, Northeastern University
  • Diane Harris Cline, George Washington University
  • Ryan Cordell, Northeastern University
  • Kalani Craig, Indiana University—Bloomington
  • Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware
  • Kim Gallon, Purdue University
  • Fred Gibbs, University of New Mexico
  • Jennifer Giuliano, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Jo Guldi, Southern Methodist University
  • Jason Heppler, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Michael Jarvis, University of Rochester
  • Micki Kaufman, City University of New York
  • Sharon Leon, George Mason University
  • Matthew Lincoln, Getty Research Institute
  • Austin Mason, Carleton College
  • Michelle Moravec, Rosemont College
  • Scott Nesbit, University of Georgia
  • Angel Nieves, Hamilton College
  • Miriam Posner, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Janneken Smucker, West Chester University
  • William Thomas III, University of Nebraska—Lincoln
  • Lauren Tilton, University of Richmond


Mapping Early American Elections Launches!

Election Day in Philadelphia 1815, by John Lewis Krimmel

RRCHNM is pleased to announce the launch of the Mapping Early American Elections project website: http://earlyamericanelections.org/.

During this three-year project, funded by the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities, we build on the New Nation Votes (NNV) collection of electoral returns, also funded by the NEH. Mapping Early American Elections is turning those election returns into a dataset which has a spatial component. This extensive dataset will offer researchers new opportunities to visualize and map the changing character of early American democracy as revealed through the country’s earliest elections, 1787 to 1825.

By the end of the grant, we will create and publish multiple maps and visualizations representing Congressional and state legislative elections for 24 states. The website will include a map browser inviting users to explore early American political history in exciting new ways. Issues such as changes in voter participation, turnover in Congress and the state legislatures, the growth of party competition, and regional changes in voting patterns will appear with new clarity.

We will blog about our process and progress throughout different stages of the project. Follow the latest developments on the project’s blog.

Congratulations to the entire project team!

Project Consultants:

  • Philip Lampi, American Antiquarian Society
  • Andrew Robertson, City University of New York, Graduate Center

RRCHNM Statement on the Executive Order Restricting Access to the US

The Executive Order of January 27, 2017, restricting people’s access to the United States based on their national origins and beliefs, is at odds with the commitment to diversity at the core of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media mission. We stand in opposition to actions that discriminate and divide, and to administration efforts that restrict access to government data, which impede the teaching and collaboration that democratize history and advance research.

We have endorsed the American Historical Association statement condemning the executive order. We offer our support to responses to these policies, such as the Trump Protest Archive and Data Refuge. The Rosenzweig Center will continue to seek ways to respond to the ongoing threats to inclusivity and democracy.

The mission of the Rosenzweig Center is to use digital media and computer technology to democratize history: to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. Our projects encompass a range of American experiences of war, migration, and diplomacy, as well as the perspectives of cultures from around the world on topics including economic change, leadership, reform, revolution, and repression. Our work creating and presenting the past involves collaborations with scholars and communities of diverse backgrounds, countries of origin, and beliefs.

New NEH Planning Grant Explores Transnational Roots of American Popular Music

NEH LogoRRCHNM is pleased to announce we received a National Endowment for the Humanities, Digital Projects for the Public, Discovery grant to plan Hearing the Americas, a digital public humanities project that will increase users’ understanding of the transnational roots of American popular music.Working closely with Mason historians Matthew Karush and Michael O’Malley, Sheila Brennan, Megan Brett, and Kim Nguyen of RRCHNM, will use digitized music collections available in the Library of Congress’s (LC) National Jukebox and the University of California at Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Cylinder Audio Archive to expose the diversity of American popular music before 1925. These songs will provide the building blocks for the team to design a digital public project that will ask users how well they know their music history and invite them to discover a rich contextual network of related historical collections.

The grant funds will allow the team to research the audio and archival collections; conduct audience research; test with different user groups; and produce a design document that will lay out how the project will proceed in future phases.

Hearing the Americas deals with commercial music from the period immediately before the advent of many of the most iconic American genres. By incorporating the most recent humanities scholarship, this project will expose the origins of jazz, blues, and country as deeply transnational. Even audiences who are already familiar with popular music history will gain a new appreciation for the multicultural roots of American music, and of America’s broader cultural history.

RRCHNM is grateful to the NEH for its support of humanities work here and around the country.

Kress and Getty Fund Workshops for Art Curators through the Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) is thrilled to announce a new program with the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation to begin The Networked Curator initiative. With funding from the Samuel H. Kress and Getty Foundations, The Networked Curator will connect curators with the digital work currently done in art organization and the broader field of art history by developing two three-day intensive workshops. This initiative is part of a long tradition at RRCHNM to design hands-on training experiences for professionals who are experts in their fields, and who are digital novices.

The AAMC Foundation supports the role of the curator within the art community by advancing professional development opportunities through multiple programming formats, advocating for the highest standards of ethics and professional behavior, fostering collaborative efforts, and furthering diversity and inclusion within the field.

The Networked Curator is not meant to teach curators how to use their organization’s collections management system, rather, it is meant to boost confidence of art curators and to give them the tools to communicate and collaborate within their own communities so that they may become more integrally involved in planning and implementing digital projects. During these workshops, participants will expand their digital literacy to better understand what is possible on the web and in digital environments. Drawing on their experiences leading the DoingDH series, RRCHNM’s Sheila A. Brennan and Sharon M. Leon will develop and teach sessions designed to empower attendees to actively participate in digital initiatives in their organizations.

The program seeks to train a total of 25-30 curators, working at different stages of their careers, representing a diverse group of organizations and locations, including those without a direct or full-time art organization affiliation. The first workshop will be held at Mason in the summer of 2017 and the second will be at the Getty Research Center in the winter of 2018. More information about applications will be available in spring 2017.

RRCHNM is pleased to be working again with the Getty and Kress Foundations, as part of their ongoing efforts to offer free digital training in the field.

Read the full press release on the AAMC website.

RRCHNM at AHA Annual Meeting


The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media will be well represented at this year’s American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Denver this week.  If you are planning to attend, here is where you can find us:

  • Friday, January 6 (10:30 am – noon) — RRCHNM Director Stephen Robertson is chairing and presenting in the Collaborative Digital History roundtable.
  • Friday, January 6, 2017 (11:30 am – 2:30 pm) — Stop by the RRCHNM table at the Affiliated Societies Display in the Grand Concourse (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level).
  • Friday, January 6, 2017 (1:30 pm – 3:00 pm) — RRCHNM Director of Education Projects Kelly Schrum at AHA Digital Drop-in Session (Mineral Hall C, Hyatt Regency Denver, Third Floor)

After the conference, Stephen Robertson is participating in a meeting of the AHA’s Digital History Working Group to prepare lists of experts and a gallery of projects to support the AHA’s Guidelines for the Evaluation of Digital Scholarship.







RRCHNM uses State Department grant to create diplomatic simulations for the classroom

Visiting Mongolian students worked to resolve an international HIV/AIDS crisis in the imaginary countries of Daymar and Lateen during a diplomacy in Action simulation at the Arlington Campus. Photo courtesy of Chris Preperato.

Visiting Mongolian students worked to resolve an international HIV/AIDS crisis in the imaginary countries of Daymar and Lateen during a Diplomacy in Action simulation at Mason’s Arlington Campus. Photo courtesy of Chris Preperato.

Reposted article by Jamie Rogers from News at Mason:

High school students and college undergraduates will soon be able to build diplomacy skills thanks to a series of diplomatic simulations being developed at George Mason University.

A $198,000 grant from the State Department’s U.S. Diplomacy Center is funding the project, “Diplomacy in Action: Diplomatic Simulations in the Classroom,” said grant recipient Kelly Schrum, director of education projects for George Mason’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

Mason researchers are creating and revising simulations on multiple topics, including nuclear crises, fresh water, refugees and HIV/AIDS, said Gwen White, the Diplomacy in Action project manager. Most of the simulations will feature fictional countries so students can focus on the process.

In November, visiting Mongolian students worked to resolve an international HIV/AIDS crisis in the imaginary countries of Daymar and Lateen during a simulation at the Arlington Campus. The students, who were visiting the United States through a State Department program at the University of Indiana, played the role of stakeholders in a dispute over day laborers. They debated whether or not to allow the workers entry into a country that had recently seen a surge in AIDS cases.

The students were able to reach a temporary agreement through both formal and informal negotiations, White said.

Schrum and White are working with teachers and students from 10 countries to test the simulations. The tests are recorded on video and analyzed by Mason researchers and instructors.

Schrum said students who take part in the simulations “get to experience how diplomacy works and what it means to understand someone else’s point of view.”

Students at the high school level are ready for exposure to the complexities of diplomacy and the idea that there is not necessarily one solution to any international crisis, said White.

“It has just been really amazing what I’ve seen [and] how quickly the students get into character. It’s a fascinating thing to watch,” White said.

During the simulations, students have to negotiate and build alliances with others, she added.

Mason freshman Stephanie Galarza is one of the research assistants on the project.

Working with diplomacy is a far cry from her biology major, but the research she’s doing now could prepare her to do medical research later, because she’s learning to collect background information on a specific subject, Galarza said. She’s learning to understand the complexity of global issues and the importance of communicating with multiple groups of stakeholders.

“I get to work with projects that are going to help people,” she said. “It’s not like my old job at the movie theater—it’s actually helping me get where I want to go.”

The diplomatic simulations will be available for free on the U.S. Diplomacy Center website in 2017. The simulations complement the mission of the U.S. Diplomacy Center, scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., in 2018, as an education center and interactive museum for the public.