Digital History: Civil War Fredericksburg

Week 5: Snowmageddon

February 10th, 2010 by Megan Mc · 1 Comment

Well, here we are in the middle of week 5. Our contract was turned in, with some problems. To say we had some communication problems would be… an understatement. Somehow in the excitement of the snow or whatever our group ended up having difficulties getting on the same page… literally. We had created a document for a work-in-progress contract and then two “final” contracts were created by separate members of the group. Thinking the same document had been shared with me (as I got an e-mail from both Taylor and Lauren) I looked at it. I started to make a correction on the one Lauren had made paused for a couple minutes while I looked at the contracts from the other groups and came back to find my sentence completed by someone else. So I just left it, there was nothing else I saw wrong so I thought there was no other reason to comment.

Now, I have to say we are fortunate that the breakdown in communication happened now, so early in the project so we can learn from it and figure out what works best for our group. If this happened right at the end that could be a catastrophe but now we should be able to fix it so it does not happen again.

I know usually, in a group, I’m a follower, I don’t like taking the lead, I don’t really like the attention. I do get what is assigned to me done though so I do do my part. I don’t know how everyone else really is in the group but, it seems to me, everyone feels reluctant to take the leadership role or step up for a bit. We all need to step out of our comfort zones. More ideas are better than less, I know I need to work on this myself when it comes time to suggest ideas. And I have made a step, I already started work on the revised contract and right now it is covered in the bright green font I used to show my suggestions.

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Week 4

February 3rd, 2010 by Megan Mc · Comments Off on Week 4

So, Tuesday’s lesson was all about Omeka, which was helpful since that’s what my group has decided to use. I know it was mentioned as being a bit more complicated than WordPress, but wow. I’m a bit nervous as to how long it might take to figure out how to make pages and collections and such.  I guess we’ll find out once we get a demo site to fiddle around with. We have also discussed using a timeline on our site and I’m interested in figuring out how the exhibit site works.

I’ve been busy with reading the documents from John Hennessy on Male Relief Workers who worked in Fredericksburg. There are many documents and tons of pages, as some of these are actually books/memoirs/collections of letters of these men. I hope to be finished with this by the end of the week.

We have set plans to meet next Monday to finalize our contract but we also have in class tomorrow to work on it. Hopefully we’ll be able to work out some definite deadlines and such.

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Week 3: More Internet Tools

January 27th, 2010 by Megan Mc · Comments Off on Week 3: More Internet Tools

Well, I have just spent the last hour or so perusing the Emily Chang- Ehub site. You can really get lost in it and it’s quite a fun way to procrastinate.I had fun but I had trouble actually finding a tool that might help my group. I did find a few that I might check out further in my own time (like Jinni, a movie suggestion site)

The ones I did find that could relate to the project would help more with organizing and scheduling rather than actually creating the site. The first one I looked at was Ketchup that looked promising from the list and description “Makes it simple to keep your notes from meetings, events and presentations organised”  We could use this if we meet up and discuss/divide up research or tasks and such. However, upon investigating the site it didn’t look that well done so I don’t know how useful it could be.

Springpad also looked interesting for organizing material. The website describes itself as “a free personal organizer to save and use just about anything – recipes, products, restaurants, ideas, notes, articles, and more.” It seems to focus more on the recipe/restaurants and less scholarly applications.

So overall I found these tools interesting but I feel like the google applications such as Google Reader, Google Docs, and the Google Calendar could work just as well if not better.

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Week 2: Internet Tools

January 20th, 2010 by Megan Mc · 2 Comments

I hope I’m not the only one at least little overwhelmed by all the tools shown to us. It will take some time to get used to how to use them and be able to make the most of them. I had never used even googledocs or googlereader but what they showed us in class in Tuesday seemed like it would be incredibly useful. I know in my group, so far, Taylor uploaded the documents,that John Hennessy gave us, onto googledocs. This will allow us to have them some place where they can’t get lost and comment on them so our group members can see what we’ve done.

A couple of the documents on the disc that John Hennessy gave us had locations of some of the hospitals in Fredericksburg during the Civil War, what buildings they were (like a theater or church), and which division or doctor was in charge of it. I think we could organize this using the google spreadsheet that was demonstrated on Tuesday to better organize it.It would be cool if in the documents there was an address provided for a each and every building and then we could create one of the map things using that tool through google spreadsheet.However, the evacuation of Fredericksburg happened so quickly that not alot of detailed information was given about each building used just a few like “Catholic Church,” or “Masonic Hall-Princess Anne Street.”Once we have gone through the information that John Hennessy gave us I feel like we can use it as a springboard to try to find more documents that might pertain to our subject. We can use Delicious to share things that we might find with the group since you can share bookmarks. Aside from that I don’t really know what creative things you can use Delicious for, unfortunately still just working out the basics.

When is comes to a blog they could be used for personal reflection but they could also be used for research and communicating with others. For my history 299 class with Professor Harris we were required to create a blog and keep track of our progress of our 299 projects with hopes that someone somewhere on the internet would stumble upon your site and perhaps offer you help in your research. Now, no one happened up my research blog, Female Soldiers of the American Civil War, but some people in my class did have some luck with people stumbling upon their research and suggesting a book or primary document to read.

I’m torn between Omeka and UMWblogs for making the website. Like Patrick said UMWBlogs can be used to create a site faster where Omeka you need to fiddle with it for a longer time to get your site up. The extra time might be worth it because the Omeka blogs linked from the syllabus all look really well made but I suppose you’d need quite a bit of skills for creating a site like that.

Of the sites we were told to check out I’m not sure which ones I like the best. I like bits and pieces but none as a whole. The Liberty, Equality, Fraternity French Revolution site had a nice quick search and browse area. I didn’t like that from the “explore” part that if you chose something it’d take you to an incredibly long page of just writing. It just seemed… like too much writing for a website, it’s supposed to be engaging right? As for the Southern History Database I just could not get that one to work so I think it’s quite ineffective. I liked the setup of the Valley of the Shadow, where you clicked the map-like image of (I guess) archives (?). That would work pretty well for my project, I think. Have a map of Fredericksburg and allow the user to click the building that was used as a hospital and then take them to a page with more information or something.

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Hello!

January 17th, 2010 by Megan Mc · 1 Comment

Hi there, I am Megan McMillan. I am currently a junior and, of course, a history major. Until college, I lived my whole life in Richmond Virginia. I became interested in history starting in high school, and I came to Mary Washington with the intention of majoring in history despite dabbling in a few other departments (like psychology and historic preservation)  just to be sure. I really enjoy world history more than American history despite the fact that every single history class I’ve taken here has focused on American History, except for the class in The Reformation last semester. Oh! And on a random note I play rugby for the school club team.

I decided to take the Digital History seminar because it was the most out of the ordinary of those offered. This will be my first senior seminar so we shall see how it goes. I was a little worried with the Digital part though as I am not a computer whiz. However, I have messed around with some HTML and CSS a bit before but I’m not expert. I am in the Civil War Hospitals of Fredericksburg group and I am very excited to start the work on it. John Hennessy gave us many documents to explore so we are very lucky. Hopefully we will be able to help him in his research.

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