The Wartime Films Project: Remembering WWI

This post comes from the team working on the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences. This project was made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation and a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Read the whole series here.

In this last installment of our series on user-centered design and the national WWI App, now titled Remembering WWI, we look at our initial public launch, workshops with cultural heritage partners, and the process of continued feedback and iteration.

Together with our content partners the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, we made our first major public announcement at the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Fest in April. As part of this gathering, we held a number of user workshops to continue fine tuning the user experience of the app’s first public iteration, which will debut in beta this fall. We also gave two presentations on the collaborative process of building Remembering WWI: “Smithsonian, Library of Congress, and National Archives: Opportunities and Challenges for Working Together”, and “Historypin and the National Archives: APIs, Apps, and Audiences.”

Working closely with our national content partners, and with thematic guidance from the National WWI Museum and Memorial, we started to identify WWI content that each could feature from their own collections. This was an opportunity to focus on the diversity of narratives and paint a more complete picture of the American experience during WWI. Looking for geo-locatable content played a role in this as well, as we wanted to make sure that we could surface content from a wide variety of regions. Since many institutions do not prioritize location as part of their metadata, this also gave us an opportunity to note some partner content that could potentially benefit from crowdsourced user input once the app is live.

Jon Voss from Historypin moderating a panel focusing on institutional partnerships for the app project at DPLA Fest

Jon Voss from Historypin moderating a panel focusing on institutional partnerships for the app project at DPLA Fest

Throughout development, we’ve never stopped seeking and building upon feedback from our target audiences. In June, we held a workshop in Kansas City in which teachers had a hands-on opportunity to review updated designs. For this intimate workshop, educators from across the country gathered at the National WWI Museum and Memorial to help test the app and explore realistic scenarios for how it could be used in a classroom setting. Workshops like the one in Kansas City play an important role in helping us maintain relationships with key external representatives who will follow our progress and feed it as we iterate.

Having fun walking through potential app scenarios at the Kansas City teacher workshop. Photo credit: Kimberlee Reid

Having fun walking through potential app scenarios at the Kansas City teacher workshop. Photo credit: Kimberlee Reid

Moving forward, Remembering WWI will allow users to undertake deep exploration of NARA WWI content and create their own collections. We are seeding as much content as possible through the location-based Historypin platform, where we are also working to create themed collections based on WWI subjects recommended during the Kansas City workshop. These collections will provide jumping-off points for content discovery, and can serve as inspiration for app users. As the resources and community within Remembering WWI continue to grow, we plan to work with our user-design partners to introduce additional features such as helpful resource text for both teachers and curators.

The Historypin collection where we are currently seeding content for the app, at historypin.org/en/rememberingww1

The Historypin collection where we are currently seeding content for the app, at http://www.historypin.org/en/rememberingww1

As we reach the end of the initial development stage and prepare to share the product of this work with the public, we look forward to hearing your reactions. How will you use the app as a teacher or as a cultural institution?  What are you hoping to learn, and how can we help to enrich the experience? This is just the first step in our collaborative goal of Remembering WWI  and we hope you’ll join us.

Posted in Digitization, Films, partnerships, Photographs, Preservation, Questions, Research, Social Media (Web 2.0), Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wartime Films Project: Design Workshops and Feedback for our Pilot App

This post comes from the team working on the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences. This project was made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation and a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Read the whole series here.

In our last Wartime Films Project post, we explored the process behind selecting our pilot project, a National World War I app. This week, we’ll take a look at how gathering continual user feedback during the development process is key to project success.

A scene from our app user-design workshop at the Innovation Hub on Dec. 1st, 2015.

A scene from our app user-design workshop at the Innovation Hub on Dec. 1st, 2015.

We started by holding workshops to explore user journeys and use cases. Figuring out the way in which people would want to interact with our app was the first step in determining our requirements and design. We met with representatives from our three audience groups, making sure to talk with the people who would ultimately benefit the most from the end product.

We enjoyed holding two of these audience workshops in the Innovation Hub, an open space in the National Archives building in Washington, DC, where staff collaborate on projects with interested public stakeholders. With both museum innovators and educators present for these sessions, we presented early conceptual designs for what the app might look like and how it might function. We also asked for key pieces of feedback- What would you need? How could you use something in a simple classroom setting? In a simple museum setting? In the time allotted?- to help shape our ideas into a product that would be meaningful for users.

A flurry of Post-it notes recording feedback during an app workshop.

A flurry of Post-it notes recording feedback during an app workshop.

We held similar workshops within NARA, talking to experts on the WWI motion pictures and photographs that we’d be showcasing, to learn how we could best focus on the experience of the content itself.

We were also fortunate to have the opportunity for a meaningful partnership with the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution, who each provided their own original WWI records for the app. This project was the perfect opportunity to combine rich, openly licensed, and reusable content from across national institutions into a collaborative commemoration of next year’s centennial of the American entry into the Great War.

During the design-process, we started with films themselves for inspiration, looking at how we could harken back to the past visually.

During the design-process, we started with films themselves for inspiration, looking at how we could harken back to the past visually.

With our partnerships forming and the influx of fantastic feedback received early on in the design process, we kept sketching and simplifying. We became more and more realistic as we continued wireframing, zeroing-in on the actual in-app user experience. We ended up with early designs that reflected the experience of physically pulling content out of the Archives, where the records themselves are front and center and can be used to create new narratives.

Check back next week when we conclude our series with a look at our official launch announcement and user workshops.

Posted in Digitization, Films, partnerships, Photographs, Questions, Research, Social Media (Web 2.0), Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hands-on Research with THATClass and the National Archives

Today’s post comes from Dina Herbert, Innovation Hub Coordinator. Dina recently chatted with Patrick Cronin and Thomas Neville about THATClass, their project-based archival education program for Washington, DC students.

Three high school students and their THATclass leader, who volunteered to help with scanning in the digitization lab at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2016.

Tell me about THATClass.  What do students learn by participating in THATClass that they wouldn’t necessarily get from their regular school year lessons?

THATClass (The Humanities And Technology Class) started with partnerships among teachers, students, local archives and experts, and a question: What if we replaced the textbook with archival materials? That led to authentic historical work, with high school students framing questions about forgotten stories, researching in archives, and using new digital tools to share their findings at a professional conference. The learning experience is unique because students (and teachers) are free from the normal constraints of school, a fixed classroom location, grades, and set content to be covered. THATClass encourages learners to uncover content in archives; this is a departure from traditional humanities education.

This year, in particular, participants learned that just because a project has National Endowment for the Humanities funding and graduate-level research does not mean the scholarship is finished. In examining the site the students found that the layer for their area of research was incomplete. This was an organic way for students to generate questions based on existing scholarship and identify what resources were available to enable them to add to it. In order to enter metadata related to NARA’s individual physical sources and related assets (like newspaper articles), our students first had to learn about geo-spatial perspectives, wartime bureaucracy, and legal repercussions of debauchery in Civil War Washington. Graduate-level research yielded graduate-level content knowledge.

Has working on THATClass given you any ideas for other ways teachers and schools can collaborate with archives, libraries, and museums?

Yes, although it’s worth noting that THATClass as a formal program had to start independently from any existing school or university. The ideas behind it are so counter to the norm it took three years before anyone would take a chance on us and provide funding (thanks DC Public Library).

Two high school students scanning as a part of their THATclass experienceWe feel the time has come for the kind of work we’re doing. Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs) are the labs of the humanities. Schools across the country now have science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) labs, but they neglect art, repurpose libraries, rarely sing, and history is still often an endless cycle of lectures, worksheets, and tests. Establishing strong connections was key to breaking out of this rut. Our classes had historical themes and ideas to wrestle with but lacked active engagement and true skill development so reaching out to archives made sense.

For many of your students, THATClass was the first time they’ve visited the research side of an archives. What were some of their takeaways from the experience?

In our first project for THATClass one of our students was 14, the minimum age for research. This particular student, who worked with us again this summer, told the Washington Post that he kept wanting to dig for more information throughout the project and wished he had more time. I hope his takeaway is that he no longer needs us and that we’ll just get in his way and slow him down. He’d never heard of microfilm or csv files before working with us. His skillset has, in many ways, surpassed my own and I’m proud of that. He will assist me in leading undergraduates at Georgetown and Marymount Universities through archival research methods this Fall.  His and other reflections on the experience can be viewed here.

How do you use the National Archives as a venue for primary sources?

Documents scanned by a group of high school students who volunteered in the digitization lab at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2016.The National Archives has figured into each of our projects as both a reliable repository of relevant sources and also as a teaching tool for the research process in general. Having students experience what that process looks like is critical to pulling back the curtain. They get a feel for talking and working with the archivist, asking for a pull request for records, strategically planning for the schedule and rhythm of the pulls, being productive while you’re waiting for a pull, and what to do when the pull lacks what you hoped it had.

We’ve also gone to the National Archives because some crucial sources aren’t online yet. That’s actually turned out okay: some of the most powerful reflections we had from students highlighted the interaction with the space and the physical documents. Without using the word, they effectively came to see it as their laboratory.

What have you done in the National Archives in the past?

Our project in 2015 was about the 1968 Riots in Washington, D.C. At that time there was almost no scholarship on the topic. Over the summer, five local high school students produced the largest digitized collection of materials related to the civil disturbance. Much of their research centered around a report prepared by the National Capital Planning Commission and the Land Redevelopment Agency based on surveys about property damage (NARA Record Group 328). The students digitized a damage map using ArcGIS webware. We also submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request to the Metropolitan Police Department seeking a report on the deaths during the Riots, resulting in the first public release of these documents. The project was profiled in the Washington Post.

I know you’re working on a new project called “Downtime and Debauchery in Civil War Washington.” Can you tell me about some of the sources you’ve scanned in the Innovation Hub?

After finding several mentions of a list of Civil War Bawdy Houses, we found the special orders (#106 & #107) from the Provost Marshal of the Defenses of Washington 22nd Army Corps. These special orders led to an official inventory of the Bawdy Houses (RG 393 Pt 1, vol 298). Apparently after this list was created, the Metropolitan Police Department began conducting raids of these houses. Students then searched the Police Blotter and the Police Returns. At that point, NARA archivist Bob Ellis recommended we look at the criminal court records (RG 21). We found roughly 100 court cases during the Civil War related to “Keeping Bawdy House”. There were enough to warrant the creation of a form letter for the case files. Some of the women (and a few men) had multiple cases brought against them. Others had aliases that overlapped. There never was a case brought against the now-famous DC Madam, Mary Ann Hall, despite being listed on the official inventory of Bawdy Houses.

How can interested students get involved in next year’s program?

Two high school students scanning as a part of their THATclass experience

We will have applications for the 2017 THATSummer project open in the spring and local students in the Washington, D.C. metro area are welcome to apply. We are still working out the details so please keep a look out for the application on our website thatclass.org.  Our funding will again come from the DC Public Library.

Posted in crowdsourcing, DC-area Researchers, Digitization, Education, Innovation Hub, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Wartime Films Project: Choosing our User-Centered Design Pilot – A WWI App

This post comes from the team working on the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences. This project was made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation and a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Read the whole series here.

Watching Motion Picture Preservation staff hard at work restoring a film from RG-111, the primary record group containing a series of WWI films that we’re utilizing for this project.

Watching Motion Picture Preservation staff hard at work restoring a film from RG-111, the primary record group containing a series of WWI films that we’re utilizing for this project.

In our last post, we took a look at how we built our evaluation framework for the Wartime Films project, including coming up with audience-focused outcomes that we wanted to see as a result of engagement. The next step was to create a product that will meet the needs of our target audiences while helping us achieve as many desired outcomes as possible.

Carol Swain from NARA’s Special Media Records Division, Motion Picture Branch showing the Historypin team research aids for the newly digitized WWI films at NARA’s Research Room in College Park, MD.

Carol Swain from NARA’s Special Media Records Division, Motion Picture Branch showing the Historypin team research aids for the newly digitized WWI films at NARA’s Research Room in College Park, MD.

Of course, the heart of this project is hundreds of wartime moving images and about 100,000 photographs being expertly preserved and digitized by NARA curators, many never-before-seen. In light of the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the US entering World War I in 2017, we can tie into renewed interest in the conflict and local and national efforts focused on the centenary.

The first step of our product design required us to assess what products and tools might address the existing needs of our target audiences. When we thought about teachers and museums in particular, we considered the proliferation of digitally accessible primary sources, the challenge of discoverability, and the availability of textbooks and guides for studying WWI. We began to imagine a product that could not only bring NARA’s WWI content to light in a dynamic and tactile way, but also to create a tool that could help to enable real exchange, where teachers and local museums could help to shape the product we create.

A close-up of some of the research aids we looked at, including film shot-lists and accession cards, which helped give us a better understanding of the breadth of subject material covered in NARA’s WWI films.

A close-up of some of the research aids we looked at, including film shot-lists and accession cards, which helped give us a better understanding of the breadth of subject material covered in NARA’s WWI films.

With WWI as our focus, our priority was to gather collections together in a way that would enable people to tell stories. Teachers and museums place significant importance on understanding historical documents, constructing theses, and finding documents to help explain those theses. Understanding this helped us to start identifying goals for an application that would speak to both these target audiences and the ways in which they want to engage with the records.

Starting to sketch out early designs of what the app might do, based upon our increasing understanding of the WWI content we are working with.

Starting to sketch out early designs of what the app might do, based upon our increasing understanding of the WWI content we are working with.

At the same time, we also wanted to try and enrich the collections themselves. We thought there might be an opportunity for tagging photos and segmenting moving images, with the goal of recontextualizing the WWI content through a local lens and highlighting often underrepresented narratives. Our aim is to develop an app that allows communities to easily interact with these primary source records and use them to tell their own local stories.

In our next post, we will talk about our user-design process for the app, and how representatives from our audience groups are helping us make the key connections between content and users.

Posted in Catalog, Digitization, Films, partnerships, Photographs, Preservation, Questions, Research, Social Media (Web 2.0), Uncategorized, Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Making of Women’s Equality Day

Today’s post was written by Christine Blackerby, Education and Public Outreach Specialist in the Center for Legislative Archives.

Wisonsin Ratification of the 19th Admendment, June 11, 1919 (page 1 of 3)

Wisconsin Ratification of the 19th Amendment, June 11, 1919 (pg 1 of 3)

Today is Women’s Equality Day, which marks the date in 1920 when the 19th Amendment providing for women’s suffrage was declared to be ratified and therefore part of the U.S. Constitution. The drive for women’s voting rights had started in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. By the time the amendment was certified on August 26, 1920, it had taken 72 years to realize the goal.

However, many women saw suffrage as just one step for women’s rights. There was much more to be done to ensure that women would be equal to men. Three years later, in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress for the first time. Congressman Daniel Anthony, Susan B. Anthony’s nephew, submitted the joint resolution in the House of Representatives, starting a debate that continues to this day. Introduced in Congress more times than any other amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment would have provided for legal gender equality if it had been ratified by the states.

Anthony’s amendment failed, as did over 1,100 more attempts. The issue continued to gain support though, and in the 1970s Congress held hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment. Many citizens wrote to Congress to express their support or opposition. One supporter was Liz Carpenter, who warned, “Don’t be fooled by the bugaboos raised by the Amendment’s opponents. Women will gladly trade protective laws for some equal pay and equal rights.” But Congress also heard from women like Mrs. Thomas Zeko, who said, “The mal-contents, lesbians and Communists of women’s lib main purpose seems to be to downgrade the marvelous vocation of mother-homemaker.”

Photograph of Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Posters on the Back of a Station Wagon, NARA ID 7452296

Photograph of Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Posters on the Back of a Station Wagon, NARA ID 7452296

The ERA passed Congress in 1972 by a two-thirds vote, as required by Article V of the Constitution. However, amendments must also be ratified by three quarters of the states, and the ERA was just three states short of the 38 ratifications needed. As the seven-year time limit for ratification approached in 1979, Congress and President Jimmy Carter controversially extended the deadline three years. However, no additional states ratified. In 1982, the amendment failed.

The National Archives Museum exhibit “Amending America” features these documents and many other stories about constitutional amendments. All of the documents from the exhibit are available in NARA’s online Catalog as well as in an eBook available as a free download in the iTunes store.

The 1,100 proposals for the ERA are part of the list of more than 11,000 constitutional amendments that have been introduced in Congress. As part of the “Amending America” initiative, the National Archives digitized the list of amendments, and made it available for free download on Data.gov.

National Archives Women's Affinity Group logoWe’ll soon be adding new channels for sharing these stories online. The National Archives Women’s Affinity Group (WAG) will introduce  a new Twitter account and Tumblr blog to explore  the history of American women  and promote the documents which tell their stories. Follow @USNatArchives on Twitter and US National Archives on Facebook for information on the launch.  

 

Posted in Education, Online Research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Rebooting the Social Media Strategy for the National Archives

This post and strategy were written by Jeannie Chen, Mary King, and Hilary Parkinson, with contributions by Dana Allen-Greil.

In six years, you can get a lot done! If you are the International Space Station, you could have orbited the earth 35,040 times. If you are Apple, you could have released 10 new iPhones. If you are the National Archives, you have gone from zero social media accounts to over 100!

It’s been six years since NARA’s first social strategy was released. Things have changed in the digital universe, and so we’ve been working on a reboot of our social media strategy.

Animated gif image excerpted from “Right on the Button.” From the series: Motion Picture Films, ca. 1960 - ca. 1970. Records of the Internal Revenue Service, 1791 - 2006.

Image from @TodaysDocument Tumblr. NAID11900.

In 2010, we introduced our first social media strategy to continue our commitment to open government and to empower staff to use social media. Now our digital presence reaches hundreds of millions of people. More than 200 National Archives staff contribute to 130 social media accounts on 14 different platforms, generating over 250 million views in 2015.

Access and transparency are at the core of our work. With the explosion of digital devices and platforms, we can share our documents and our mission with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

To tackle these new needs and to keep us current for our audiences and stakeholders, we have come up with this new plan. We met with staff and asked them about their goals and needs for social media–and we asked staff what challenges they faced when using social media. We also researched social strategies of other influential institutions, we analyzed our social media and web data, and we read up on best practices. We led lightning sessions to get feedback and suggestions from other galleries, museums, archives, and libraries. Now, we need to hear from you!

Your feedback is needed to make this strategy the best it can be and we want to hear what you think. We see this as a living document, so we’ve published the strategy on GitHub, a collaborative development web platform.

Take a look at the National Archives Social Media Strategy and leave a comment below. Or, send an email to socialmedia@nara.gov and let us know what you think. Please be sure to add your comments by September 16 so we can include your feedback in our plan!

Posted in Open Government, Social Media (Web 2.0), Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

The Wartime Films Project: Setting Goals and Intended Outcomes for User-Centered Design Pilots

This post comes from the team working on the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences. This project was made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation and a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Read the whole series here.

Last month we looked at how research and analysis have helped us narrow our focus on particular audiences and a subset of relevant content. Today we’ll take a look at how we built our evaluation framework for the project.

Having narrowed our target audiences for the Wartime Films project and settled on WWI-focused content for our engagement efforts, we began to really concentrate on our goals for the pilot. Unlike a traditional publicity campaign seeking media responses, or a management document to commit to deliverables, we’re seeking particular outcomes for the target audiences, as well as ways to measure the impact of our engagement. Outcomes focus on social transformation, and are defined as changes in the behaviour, relationships, activities, or actions of the people, groups, and organizations with whom a program works directly.

Working with Historypin’s research and evaluation team at Shift, we decided on the formula of actors + actions = intended outcome to shape our goals. Recognizing that we’re part of a much larger ecosystem of cultural heritage organizations encouraging discovery and reuse of our national treasures, we focused the formula on answering two key questions : what did we want to see happen in the project, and how could we measure our specific impact in the space through this particular pilot?

Screenshot of chart showing aims (the change we want to bring)

Brainstorming initial goals for our teachers target group.

Using a widely-adapted, user-centered approach to planning called Outcome Mapping, we’re able to focus on social transformation, particularly how it pertains to the public discovery and creative reuse of primary source materials. For us, the desired “big picture” change is broken down into a series of multiple outcomes that multiple actors can work towards. To build our outcome mapping framework, we first pinpointed not only NARA’s wider goals for access and reuse in the project overall, but for each of our target audiences individually: teachers, local museums, and coders/digital humanists. The audience analysis we carried out in the beginning of the project was key in helping to define these goals, and placing them in the framework helped us organize the actions and results we were hoping to see.

Screenshot of outcomes chart (change we want to see)

Some outcomes for our museums target group.

We narrowed down the most important aims for each group and created a spreadsheet to organize our intended outcomes, the activities that can help us reach those outcomes, and methods to measure how effective the actions have been. The outcomes we settled upon for each group focused on issues of awareness, access, and community, each connected to larger organizational goals for NARA (see the National Archives 2014-2018 Strategic Plan).

The next steps of this process involved coming up with initial activities- such as teacher workshops and publishing raw metadata for coders- that can be logically linked to our outcomes. We then created measurements for these activities, which can be anything from surveys and interviews to observations like social media hits, teachers blogging, etc.

By approaching the Wartime Films evaluation from a social research perspective, the key outcomes and ways of measuring those outcomes are aimed at seeing an increase in social engagement. While the activities and measurements for those activities might change over the course of the project, having this framework in place allows us to ensure our overall goals stay consistent.

Posted in Digitization, Films, Photographs, Preservation, Questions, Research, Social Media (Web 2.0), Uncategorized, Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

National Archives at Boston Collaborates to Digitize Over 900 Popular Photos

Digital Commonwealth landing page for the Photographs of the First Naval District

Digital Commonwealth landing page for the Photographs of the First Naval District

It’s a fact that the National Archives holds billions of records. It’s also true that, even with the awesome level of description that staff accomplish each year, it’s a challenge to make items available online as fast as we’d like. Large scale digitization partnerships help, as does every individual record scanned by Citizen Archivists in the Innovation Hub, but we’re always looking for new ways to increase access. Over the past couple of years, the National Archives at Boston has been brainstorming the question and just last month some of the first fruits of their labor became available as part of the Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth.

Early in 2015, National Archives at Boston Director, Alfie Paul, noticed the work that other Massachusetts cultural institutions were doing as part of their membership in the Digital Commonwealth. This state-wide program seeks to provide online access to the records held by libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies in Massachusetts. Of particular interest was the free digitization services offered to member institutions by the Boston Public Library (BPL), through its Library for the Commonwealth initiative.   

Dance at Frontier Base for Negro Personnel. 40 Girls from Boston. Negro Band from Squantum Naval Station or Quonset

Dance at Frontier Base for Negro Personnel. 40 Girls from Boston. Negro Band from Squantum Naval Station or Quonset

The Archives reached out to BPL Digital Projects Manager, Tom Blake, and soon Director Paul and senior archivist Nathaniel Wiltzen were visiting the digitization lab at the library to make sure it would meet the Archives’ security and safety standards. The National Archives at Boston formally joined the Digital Commonwealth, received the required agency permissions, and submitted an application to have two series of Naval District photographs digitized. These series, Photographs Depicting Naval Shore Establishments, 1939-1947 and photographs culled from the Administrative History of the First Naval District in World War II, 1946 are among the most heavily used records at Boston. While 110 images are currently available in NARA’s online Catalog, more than nine hundred others had yet to be scanned. That changed this past March when Paul and members of his staff hand delivered the photographs to the BPL lab. In July, the prints were all scanned and the landing page for the collection on the Digital Commonwealth went live with 1,064 images.

Commanding officer instructs in tactics, V-12 Orientation class, Tufts College

Commanding Officer instructs in tactics, V-12 Orientation Class. Tufts College

As part of the partnership, the National Archives received digital copies of all scans and Boston’s staff are now working to add these popular items into the Catalog, where they’ll join more than 14 million other digital objects. We look forward to sharing highlights from the series here as the project progresses, and have plans for tagging missions that will give Citizen Archivists a chance to explore, engage, and share these records more easily than ever. Check back soon for updates!

Posted in Catalog, Digitization, partnerships, Photographs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sharing historic moments through Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy Collection

From political campaigns to conventions, from constitutional amendments to landmark documents, the holdings of the National Archives document the history of American democracy in action.

To share some of these historic moments, we are pleased to participate in Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy collection, contributing thirteen interactive online exhibits that tell the story of presidential elections in the United States. These specially curated exhibits feature historic photos, documents, videos, and stories related to the history and evolution of elections, how we amend the Constitution, political cartoons and campaign memorabilia.

landing page for the American Democracy Google Cultural Institute exhibit

Some highlights in this exhibit collection include a document proposing a Constitutional amendment to elect the President with a lot system, the story of how LBJ championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as presidents on the campaign trail, including some never-before-seen pictures of President Richard Nixon addressing the crowd at the Republican National Convention of 1972, photographed by renowned photographer Ollie Atkins and the White House Photo Office.

Richard Nixon standing at podium during campaign, 1972

Richard Nixon Standing at RNC Podium Over Delegates, Campaign 1972

View all of the U.S. National Archives online exhibits in the American Democracy Collection and on Google Cultural Institute.

This project is part of the Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy collection, which brings together over 70 exhibits and 2500+ artifacts from 44 institutions dedicated to the preservation of U.S. political history and the practice of American democracy.

"Housewives for Truman" in New York, 1948

“Housewives for Truman” in New York, 1948

Can’t get enough campaign memorabilia? Be sure to follow our#ElectionCollection Instagram challenge to see more quirky, cool and surprising historic memorabilia!

Posted in Catalog, exhibits, Photographs, Social Media (Web 2.0), Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Wartime Films Project: Narrowing the Focus of our User-Centered Design Pilot

This post comes from the team working on the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences. This project was made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation and a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Read the whole series here.

Two weeks ago we introduced the user-centered approach NARA is taking to engage existing and new audiences with our Wartime Films holdings. This week we look at how research and analysis has helped us narrow our focus on particular audiences and a subset of relevant content.

Of course, one of the major challenges at a cultural heritage institution with the size and scale of the National Archives is narrowing the scope of a project like this so that it’s not completely overwhelming. Because we were in the middle of the 100-year commemoration of World War I (from 2014-2018), and had enough lead time to be prepared for the United States entering the War in 1917, we felt that the 2017 anniversary was a natural kickoff for our engagement efforts. In addition to the films, about 100,000 rarely seen WWI images are being digitized and cataloged, all amounting to a lot of new metadata that can be combed for new data analysis.

Grid charting engagement and impact levels for all audiences

From the nine target audiences we identified earlier, we narrowed it down to three different audiences that we thought we could either effectively reach or could develop a deeper level of engagement with. We settled on: educators, museums, and digital humanist/coders. NARA has an amazing education team who works with teachers in regional locations and online through DocsTeach, and can help guide development of teaching aids and curriculum using this newly available content. For the museum partner segment, we are taking full advantage of the fact that all of the content being released for this project is in the public domain. We hope to get the digitized films and photos into the hands of regional and local community museums,helping them to find ways to reuse content in their own exhibits and community events. The NARA exhibits unit has started to lend their expertise toward that end, as well as to make available a WWI-themed traveling exhibit. Finally, we intend to reach out to digital humanists and coders that will have an interest in the metadata about the photos and films for their own uses and scholarly research. For instance, we are exploring how this audience might help parse out names of U.S. training camps and locations mentioned, or whether it’s possible to break out films by scene and compare them with newly-digitized shot lists that provide detailed metadata about each shot.

The three groups we chose to focus on represent the biggest potential for helping NARA reach new audiences and amplify local community efforts.

Persona summary for teachersEducators: This group includes teachers and teacher trainers working at the
K-12 level. Currently, NARA provides strong support to this group through our Education Department and a network of Education Specialists across our regional branches, the
DocsTeach program, and educational publications. There is potential for heavy engagement with this group by collaborating with education staff to complement their programs and getting the wartime film archives into teaching materials.

Personas-Museums

Museums: This group includes history museums nationwide of varying sizes. There is potential to grow engagement with this group, some of whom, have previously searched for NARA content to utilize in exhibits or in their own programming. We can increase museum engagement by tapping
into existing networks and promoting the wartime films as a seed to open up local collections and personal connections in diverse communities around the country.

Personas-CodersDigital Humanists/Coders (originally called History Enthusiasts):  This group currently has limited interaction with NARA and represents a challenge for us to reach. However, close collaboration with NARA’s Innovation Hub offers the potential for high-return results.

 

You can read in-depth personas for each groups’ primary needs, behaviors, and ultimate goals for sharing NARA content in this report.

In the next post in this series, we’ll explore the specific goals and outcomes identified for this pilot.

Posted in Digitization, Films, partnerships, Photographs, Preservation, Questions, Research, Social Media (Web 2.0), Uncategorized, Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments