Today’s post comes from Kelly Osborn, History Hub Community Manager, and Naomi Lieberman, National Archives Intern.
Do you have cable TV, a smart phone, or some other technological gadget? If you’re like me, when something breaks, you probably head to your favorite search engine and usually end up on a community forum where someone has asked a similar question to yours. There’s often a string of responses, some from regular people like me who have figured out a solution, and some from various technology experts who can give you the information that can be technically correct but maybe not easily understood.
At the National Archives, we wondered, can we use that same approach to make research easier for family historians, citizen archivists, and open government advocates? Can we create a way to crowd-source research that would normally have to be conducted by email or in person? Can this platform answer questions before they’re asked, saving time and frustration for the public?
The National Archives has embarked on a ground-breaking experiment with History Hub, a pilot support community for historians and other history enthusiasts, researchers, genealogists, citizen archivists, open government advocates, and archival professionals.
What can I do on History Hub?
It is a place to ask questions, share information, work together, and find help based on experience and interests. History Hub offers tools like discussion boards, blogs, and community pages to bring together experts and researchers interested in American history. Think of it as a one-stop shop for crowdsourcing information related to your research subject.
For example, if you have ever been curious about your genealogy, you can ask your pressing questions and receive either answers or guidance on where to look for further information, from knowledgeable individuals both inside and outside of the National Archives. Or, if you happen to be conducting a research project on U.S. soldiers in WWI and you are looking for military records from a specific time period and location, the History Hub can point you in the right direction.
History Hub is a game-changing way of providing access, information, and diverse sources of expertise to the public. The pilot will run until the end of May and inform how we approach customer service and crowdsourcing in other areas of the National Archives, from the online catalog to how we respond at our call center. We will apply what we learn to a longer-term solution that can be used by federal government agencies and other interested organizations looking to expand public participation. This phase is all about learning lessons. So check it out, ask a question, answer a question, and let us know what you think. We want to make the final product as useful as possible, and we need your input.
Explore, ask a question, answer a question, start a discussion, or try something new to help us all find out how the History Hub might be useful to our community.
Visit us now at historyhub.archives.gov!