This fall, students in Assistant Professor Dr. Michael J. Kramer’s (Department of History) Honors 112: Reading and Writing Across Forms course developed experimental digital public history projects. Each student documented a topic of interest from campus, community, regional, or state history. They researched the topic to develop a brief digital museum “label” for a photograph or sequence of multimedia documentation. They experimented with digital form using a WordPress website installed on a Reclaim webhosting account (thanks to SUNY Brockport for supporting this digital infrastructure). You can view the projects at SUNY Brockport Digital Public History Project. Additionally, Dr. Kramer and students will also be curating material from the digital public history experiments for the National Council of Public History’s Instagram feed during the week of December 6, 2021.
With this project, students explored what it means to document the world, how to research its histories both well-known and hidden, and how one might curate their findings effectively through digital layout, clear writing, and an interplay of different kinds of documentation and explanation. What you will find is not a fully developed, completed project, but rather an entry point, a start, a first take by students, most of them in their first year of university. From histories of the SUNY Brockport campus itself to its sports programs, from local monuments and historical sites to nearby Rochester’s activist history to other dimensions of history in New York State, the projects reveal glimpses of public history and public life as students perceive them. Through combinations of direct observation, representational documentation, historical research, narrative description, analytic writing, digital design, and multimedia curation, the students begin to share the variety and richness of the social world, the built environment, and the lively history present all around us.
Dr. Kramer lightly edited the post after a series of workshops and feedback to students on their projects. Students also drew upon the expertise of the librarians at SUNY Brockport’s Drake Memorial Library.