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.







Eisenhower Memorial


A single act or character trait may be instrumental in deciding an individual’s future path. In Dwight D. Eisenhower’s case, it was because of his perseverance in requesting a recommendation from his U.S. Senator – twice – that he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. This is just one of the interesting details of Eisenhower’s life discovered as the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) developed lesson plans and timeline content for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s website .

The website provides a preview of the forthcoming physical memorial near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as well as highlights of Eisenhower’s achievements as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and as the 34th president of the United States. As part of the site’s educational mission, significant events in Eisenhower’s life are explored through seven Pivotal Moments: West Point, D-Day, NATO, Winning the Presidency, Waging Peace, Little Rock, and Space Race via text, photographs and videos. The videos contain interviews with President William J. Clinton, Secretary of State Colin Powell, astronauts John Glenn and Eileen Collins, and Eisenhower’s grandson David Eisenhower among others.

RRCHNM created the content for an interactive timeline that connects viewers with key events in both Eisenhower’s life and in world history during his lifetime. His life spanned an era of great change from the closing of the American frontier in 1890, the year of his birth, to the first landing on the moon in 1969, the year Eisenhower died. The timeline contextualizes Eisenhower’s achievements within other national and world events.

RRCHNM worked with secondary school teachers and military historian Christopher Hamner to develop middle and high school curriculum units based on these seven pivotal moments. Teachers can download the freely available units and related materials for classroom use.

In “D-Day: Advising Eisenhower,” for example, students explore the complexity of preparing for a massive invasion by acting as advisors to General Eisenhower. They provide him with vital information about geography, weather, German air capabilities, and French Resistance support in the region.

In “The 1952 Election: A New Kind of Campaign,” students learn how the introduction of television changed the way presidential campaigns were run and develop a media strategy for Eisenhower on one campaign issue.

A wide variety of primary and secondary sources are included in the lesson plans, such as D-Day maps, images from the early years of space exploration, and de-classified government documents. There is also a letter from an advisor recommending that Eisenhower consider George Washington’s Farewell Speech as inspiration for his own final speech to the nation as president. Each plan contains suggestions for differentiation and assessment. These units will be useful for teaching World War II, 20th-century U.S. and world history.

Annual Report 2015-2016

rrchnm_arTo keep friends and supporters of RRCHNM better informed about our ongoing work, this year we inaugurated a short annual report. Produced in collaboration with the Development Office of College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the report was mailed out in late October.

The annual report describes project launches and grants for new projects in the academic year 2015-2016. In it you can find brief descriptions of five of those new projects, and of a busy year of teaching, training, and professional development. The last year also saw a new website, new servers, and a new postdoctoral fellowship. A report on the Center’s endowment completes the document.

A copy can be downloaded here.

Our New Digital History Fellows & Their Work on RRCHNM’s History

Laura Crossley

Laura Crossley

Jessica Dauterive

Jessica Dauterive

This semester RRCHNM welcomes two new DH Fellows, Laura Crossley and Jessica Dauterive.
This year the Fellows practicum at the Center began with a seminar with Stephen Robertson, the director. The goal was to explore the role of centres in digital humanities, put RRCHNM in the context of other centres, and explore the 22 years of work the Center has done in the context of the development of digital history and DH. As part of the seminar, the Fellows each created an exhibit telling the story of an RRCHNM project using material on the site created for our 20th anniversary. Laura’s exhibit explored the Object of History; you can find her reflections on the project on the Fellows blog. Jessica’s exhibit explored The Lost Museum; her reflections can be found here.

In recent weeks the Fellows have been working in the Education division. Look out for their blog posts on their work there early in the New Year.

The Department of History & Art History at George Mason University is offering two Digital History Fellowships to support students beginning a Ph.D. in Fall 2017. As this is the final year of the funding from the Provost that supports the award, this cohort of Fellows will each receive only one year of funding at $20,000, in addition to three years of funding from the History Department, and undertake a one year practicum course for credit at RRCHNM. 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, Professor Cindy Kierner. Applications close January 15, 2017

Omeka S 1.0 Beta Release

Omeka S LogoThe Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University is pleased to announce the public beta release of Omeka S (1.0), the next-generation, open source web-publishing platform that is fully integrated into the scholarly communications ecosystem and designed to serve the needs of medium to large institutional users who wish to launch, monitor, and upgrade many sites from a single installation.

Though Omeka S is a completely new software package, it shares the same goals and principles of Omeka Classic that users have come to love: a commitment to cost-effective deployment and design, an intuitive user interface, open access to data and resources, and interoperability through standardized data.

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 end-user communities to easily build their own sites that showcase digital cultural heritage materials.

  • Colleges and universities that want to encourage their faculty and students to develop online publications that make use of special collections and digitized materials will find Omeka S
  • Museums and historical societies that would like to create a digital exhibit to accompany the many physical exhibits and installations at their institutions can turn to Omeka S as way to efficiently administer that digital work and reuse digitized collections.
  • Individual researchers interested in publishing linked open data will find Omeka S a reliable solution for creating and maintaining research collections, and for publishing new scholarship.

While the Items remain the core of Omeka S, the new software is designed to capitalize on linked data standards for item description. Omeka S uses JavaScript Object Notation-Linked Data (JSON-LD) as its native data format and ships with popular RDF vocabularies, which make it possible to enmesh Omeka S in the semantic web and to connect to aggregators like the Digital Public Library of America.

After users create and describe their items or import materials from a range of external repositories for access in a shared pool of items, Omeka S allows them to create and publish individual sites. Sites are built by creating pages, selecting from a range of layout blocks for those pages, and attaching items or media from the pool of resources selected for use with the site. As Modules extend Omeka S functionality, they can also add page layout blocks, such as a map or a collecting form. Site Themes can be customized in a number of ways, including with the addition of a logo and the selection of colors for styling elements.

Developers will appreciate that Omeka S’s Read/Write REST API enables all of the major software actions, such as the creation of users, items, item sets, and sites. This infrastructure makes it possible to easily create modules that extend Omeka S’s core capacities.

Omeka S users will find extensive documentation written for developers and end users to guide them in learning more about working with the software.

The Amboyna Conspiracy Trial Website

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is pleased to introduce The Amboyna Conspiracy Trial website, an interactive teaching resource focused on one of the most famous legal cases of the early modern period.

The Amboyna trial took place on a remote island in Southeast Asia where Dutch authorities accused a group of English merchants and Japanese mercenaries of plotting to seize control of a Dutch East India Company fort. The trial, which culminated in a mass execution in the public square in front of Amboyna castle, poisoned relations between two emerging European superpowers, the Dutch Republic and England, and changed the course of the spice race in Asia. The site explores the events on Amboyna, the race for spices, and the politics of torture and waterboarding.

amboynaThe Amboyna Conspiracy Trial is the product of a long-term collaboration between Dr. Adam Clulow (Monash University, Australia) and RRCHNM. It was funded by the Research Accelerator Program at Monash University.

There are several ways to navigate The Amboyna Conspiracy Trial. Exhibits offer a curated path through the case, key participants, controversy over torture, and the long aftermath of the trial. A timeline allows visitors to explore how the trial played out day by day. The Archive provides access to relevant primary sources, including official documents, legal sources, and images. Teaching presents strategies for using Amboyna in the classroom, modeling ways to build on student fascination with trials and forensic investigation to explore the past.

The heart of the site is Your Verdict, an interactive trial engine that places students in the role of juror. For close to four hundred years, the debate over what actually happened on Amboyna in 1623 has continued. English scholars have insisted that there was no plot and that the trial constituted nothing more than the judicial murder of innocents, while Dutch historians argue that a conspiracy existed and hence that the legal proceedings were justified. Your Verdict draws website visitors into the heart of the case, offering evidence and the responsibility of weighing that evidence to determine guilt or innocence. Watch students who pilot tested the site discuss their deliberations.

The Amboyna Conspiracy Trial is part of RRCHNM’s World History Matters portal offering rich resources for teaching and learning about world history.

Meet the Gerda Henkel Postdoctoral Fellow for Digital History

Gabor TothIn early September, the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media welcomed Gabor M. Toth, Assistant Professor at the University of Passau, as the first Gerda Henkel postdoctoral fellow in digital history. This fellowship is intended to support junior scholars working in the field of digital history.

Prior to arriving in the US, Toth was a visiting fellow of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. He completed his PhD at the University of Oxford in 2014 specializing in the history of the Italian Renaissance.

During this academic year, Toth will be using computational linguistics and text mining techniques to analyze oral history transcriptions of Holocaust survivors. He wants to explore the memory of the Holocaust by investigating heterogeneity and homogeneity in the interview data, while attempting to answer questions about the ways memory changes over time, and how gender and age shapes recollections in oral histories.  Importantly, he will look for recurrent linguistic patterns in the ways people remember and speak about trauma and persecution.

For those interested in applying for a Henkel Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2016-17, applications are now open: