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
- The affiliates--faculty, staff, and student--at IU's Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities, Center for Research on Race & Ethnicity in Society, Department of History, and the Arts & Humanities Council.
- H301 Digital History undergraduates (Matt Landini, Paul Centanni, Ashley Hennessey, Jack Reacher, Max Hermann, Nick Tedesco and others) and H585 History in the Digital Age graduate students (Drew Heiderscheidt, Tyler J., Brianna McLaughlin, Christopher Myers-Nunn and others)
- The community and student group behind Remembering Rondo for the exemplar that guided us as we did our History Harvest with our own community.
- The History Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for piloting the History Harvest concept in 2010.
- The folks who were instrumental in the planning stages of the Identity Through Objects: Fall 2019 IU Bloomington History Harvest:
- Rebecca Wingo, Assistant Professor of History and Director of Public History at the University of Cincinnati, who provided ethics guidance and organizational structure for the History Harvest.
- Students who drafted the collection process for Spring 2019 HIST-A200 Digital Public History Harvest, which we modified for the Fall 2019 collection day.
- Carrie Schwier, Outreach and Public Services Archivist at the Indiana University Archives, who helped the Spring 2019 students plan and document their ties to IU's past.
- The Wells Library faculty and staff at large, and particularly the Digital Collections Services and University Archives teams, who provided digitization and collections expertise, and donated space in which we could hold collection days. We also thank them for donating space for what would have been the physical exhibit, and we very much hope to update this page in late 2020 or early 2021 if we are able to stage the exhibit.
- Andrea Hadsell, Education Manager at the The Monroe County History Center, who opened MCHC’s doors to our Spring 2019 course and provided guidance for the community-history aspect of the Spring 2019 History Harvest.
- Sarah Hatcher, Head of Programs and Education at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, who provided guidance for exhibition and collection best-practices.
- Dean Gutjahr and the rest of the ASURE team for building the ASURE program in which the Spring 2019 history-harvest got its start.