DH Project Evaluation

The difference between a website and a digital humanities (DH) project is that a website is much more diverse term and could have a wide variety of purposes while a DH project organizes a collection of data such as literary archives, poems, historically related documents, or music in such a way that is conducive to answering a specific question or achieving a certain purpose. A DH project functions to preserve and present data with easy accessibility and clarity while a website does not have to achieve any sort of purpose.

Digital Harlem http://digitalharlem.org/

What is the research question?

What was everyday life for African New Yorkers in Harlem like from 1915 to 1930?

Fundamentals for Initial Review

The main page of the website includes a Google map with manipulable information that can be displayed overlaying the map. The possible information includes popular nightlife locations, locations of arrests, churches, and sports arenas and stadiums. Tabs all across the top of the page can help the user navigate further from here.

Crediting

A source tab is present that lists where all the information presented was obtained which include a compilation of case files, newspaper articles, and papers.

Intellectual Rigor

The information presented is academically stimulating. The use of an interactive map and timeline of events in Harlem during this time period is paired with a short narrative of the life aspect that is being currently studied. The effective organization makes learning efficient and extensively detailed.

Crossing Research, Teaching, and Service

This project provides an extensive display of information that shows how everyday life was like for Africans during this time period. The interactivity of the map allows one to search for information concerning the general population as well as tracing an individual’s life with access to information such as a timeline of life events, his or her occupation, and residence. From this information, inferences could be made about his or her choices about what living conditions inspired the actions that led to his or her arrest or just to life in general.

Peer Review

The American Historical Review published an article concerning Joshua Sternfeld’s extensive review of Digital Harlem. The article praised the review for pointing out strengths and weaknesses but criticized it for not recognizing how Digital Harlem “visualizes the facets of the daily life of ordinary residents and relationships grounded in place that are missing from the existing picture of the neighborhood” (Robertson). The article praised the project’s interactivity but felt that it lacked framework “that could assist users who were not familiar with the data to make sense of the maps they created” (Robertson).

Impact

While anyone may access it, the project is designed with academic scholars or historians in mind as a layperson might find the information difficult to build upon and connect to the larger framework.

Approximate Equivalencies

The information presented is precise, unique, and detailed. It was derived from case files, newspaper articles from the respective time period, and articles, none of which are readily available to the general public. This project provides one of the best resources for finding information and drawing conclusions about life in Harlem during this time.

Development Cycles, Sustainability, and Ethics

The projects is currently still under development so updates may still be underway. As it is, the project website functions well and does not need maintenance and provides a rich historical archive of information concerning African life in New York so it is sustainable.

Experimentation and Risk-Taking

One risk of this project is that the information displayed is specific and uncommon which may result in the project being underused and forgotten.

 

The September 11 Digital Archive http://911digitalarchive.org/

What is the research question?

 

What was the history of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and what were the public responses?

Fundamentals for Initial Review

The website layout is clearly organized and easily navigated. Tabs are listed across the top of the site as well as a search bar to provide a more specific and efficient navigation of information. Collections are further organized by type such as audio files, art, first responder accounts, photography, and personal accounts.

Crediting

While there is a tab that specifies all the sponsors of the project, links to many documents or art pieces are present but the names of the authors or artists are not always present on the project page itself despite being readily viewable in the documents themselves. Sponsors include the Library of Congress and American Red Cross.

Intellectual Rigor

Sources are derived from many locations that range from Smithsonian National Museum of American History collections to personal accounts. Because of this, the credibility is not strong and may be unsuitable for academic use. That said, over 3,500 pages are present which suggests that many credible sources exist.

Crossing Research, Teaching, and Service

This project provides the ability to search through letters, photographs, and personal accounts that can tell the story of the attacks through a different lens than many are used to.

Peer Review

This project has been working alongside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History as well as the American Red Cross Museum and was accepted by the Library of Congress as the first major digital acquisition of September 11, 2001.

Impact

The project collaborates with many credible museums to convey this information as publicly as possible. The vast number of personal accounts, photography, and art all help to allow people to understand the effects of the attacks on a more personal and unique level.

Approximate Equivalencies

The website is often a secondary source as data was collected from various museums. However many of the files that are presented on the webpage are only organized and available to the public there.

Development Cycles, Sustainability, Ethics

The project is extensively reviewed and credited as it was accepted into the Library of Congress. As it was accepted by the Library of Congress, it will be sustained and archived effectively.

Michael Hoffman

 

 

Works Cited.

Robertson, Stephen. Digital Mapping as a Research Tool: Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930. The American Historical View. 08 February 2016. https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/121.1.156 

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