The Year in Review

The Center for Public History + Digital Humanities enjoyed an eventful 2014.  Here are some highlights of the last year and a look at what to expect in 2015:

•  Mark Souther and Meshack Owino received an NEH Office of Digital Humanities Startup Grant for “Curating Kisumu: Adapting Mobile Humanities Interpretation in East Africa.”  The project launched in July and has been building toward its first research trip in January.

•  The Center continued its work on the NEH-funded “Mobile Museum Initiative,” a Curatescape research project led by Mark Tebeau at Arizona State University.

•  Curatescape, the mobile publishing framework that developed from the Center’s Cleveland Historical app project, launched seven new projects in 2014, including NW PA Heritage (Allegheny College), Explore Napa (Napa County Library), Stories of the Reach (Hanford Reach Interpretive Center), East Texas History (Sam Houston State University), Rhode Tour (Rhode Island Center for Humanities), Virginia African American Historic Sites Database (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities), and Community of Gardens (Smithsonian Gardens).

•  James Dubelko (M.A. ’12), a research associate at the Center, has led the Clark-FultonStockyards History Project with funding from the Charles M. and Helen M. Brown Memorial Foundation.  Jim has produced more than a dozen new Cleveland Historical app stories in parts of the city that have yet to receive the attention that nearby Gordon Square, Ohio City, and Tremont have enjoyed.

•  The Center is nearing completion of its CSU at 50 Oral History Project, which will feature 50 interviews conducted by Joseph Wickens (M.A. ’13) and John Horan (M.A. ’13) with a range of CSU administrators, faculty and staff, and alumni.

•  We completed the Judson Park History Project, a partnership with the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs funded by the Unger Foundation.  John Horan conducted 36 interviews that joined the growing Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection.

•  The Center hosted its first intern, Julie Gabb, from the Mandel Honors College.  Julie conducted oral histories and curated Cleveland Historical app stories about the Glenville neighborhood on Cleveland’s East Side.

•  The Center also hosted its fourth Undergraduate Summer Research Award project, which employed three CSU students who conducted or facilitated community members conducting of almost 40 interviews in the Fairfax and Glenville neighborhoods.

•  Through an Ohio Humanities Council grant to the Cleveland Metroparks, the Center has been working closely with the Metroparks to create content for its centennial in 2017.

•  After four years, the Cleveland Historical website and mobile app recently topped 500 stories that span a seven-county swath of Northeast Ohio.  The app now features half a million words of interpretive narratives, thousands of historical images, and hundreds of oral history story clips.  Almost a quarter million people used Cleveland Historical this year alone.

•  After a decade the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection this year topped 1,000 interviews.  The Center continues to add interviews and associated content logs from the collection to CSU’s Engaged Scholarship website, where they have been among the most-accessed collections in this type of repository in the United States. All interviews carry a Creative Commons license to encourage public use.

In 2015 the Center expects to be similarly busy.  The NEH “Curating Kisumu” project will be in full swing, creating app content with students at CSU and Maseno University in Kenya, studying mobile usage habits and needs in East Africa, adapting Curatescape in ways that balance our standard for rich media with regional users’ need for a lean, data-friendly mobile experience, investigating strategies for project sustainability, and preparing a proposal for an NEH implementation grant to extend the Kisumu project to partners in the African Great Lakes region in 2016-18.  In spring Curatescape will launch Version 2 (currently in beta testing), a completely redesigned app optimized for tablets as well as phones.  Additional Curatescape partner projects currently in development will launch at Baylor University, the College of William & Mary, Carleton College, St. Olaf College, Queen Mary University of London, and the City of Anderson, South Carolina. Closer to home, the Center will announce a new funded neighborhood digital history initiative. We also expect to complete the public online archiving of the entire oral history collection, which will position us well to experiment with various means of visualizing content and making it more easily accessible.