The History of this History Harvest

In fall of 2019, students in HIST-H301: Digital History and HIST-H585: History in the Digital Age partnered with the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities and the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society to undertake a History Harvest. We built on the lessons learned from a Spring 2019 test of the History Harvest as part of IU’s first-year-research ASURE program. This type of community-history project, which had its first iteration in the History Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, gets the public involved in the digitization and preservation of sentimental artifacts that aren’t likely to make it into museums or archives.

To kick-start that process, each person in our class started the semester by writing the history of an object of importance to us. We then invited our fellow students to bring an object that represents their identity to a History Harvest of early October of 2019, which took place at the Arts & Humanities Council's First Thursday event. Each contributor allowed us to digitize their object, do a really short interview about it, and add it to this digital exhibit so that the object could go home with its person, leaving its digital form to be preserved here with other objects that have made their way into IUB’s history. The History Harvest took place at a First Thursday event sponsored by IU’s Arts & Humanities Council.

In addition to the digital exhibit presented here, we also designed an exhibit that would have been installed at the University Archives in IU’s Well’s Library during the Spring semester of 2020. While the novel coronavirus pandemic interfered a bit in our physical-exhibit plans, we’re proud to present this digital exhibit in its place.

Our Experiences and Methods

I liked interacting with others in the historical process and seeing how digital modes give us a different way of looking at history.
–An H301 student who participated in the History Harvest

As digital history students, we studied three domains of methods for analysis of historical data: Text Analaysis, Mapping, and Network Analysis.

  • Text Analysis gave us a larger overview of transcripts of oral history interviews and how they relate to one another.
  • Mapping connected us spatially with the larger world, helping us to see geographic connections between Bloomington and other parts of the world.
  • Network Analysis helped us visualize the History Harvest objects and their connections to one another, broadening our understanding of how relationships among these objects are situated in a social, political, and cultural context.

Special Thanks To