There is a special relationship between audience and public history projects. The audience informs how, why, and in what media public history projects are created. National Park historians are an important component of how history is conveyed to the public as evidenced in Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Geneology of Public History by Denis D. Meringolo. Historian Denis D. Meringolo wrote, “public history is an interdisciplinary practice that adapts research methodologies and interpretative perspectives from a variety of fields to raise important questions about the meaning of the past.” (Meringolo, 154). Public history projects allow the public to engage with historical media, debate ideas, and learn about new topics of interest through technology. The audience drives what is discussed, debated, and depicted through public history projects as well as how it is shown online. For example, in “Building Histories of the National Mall: A Guide to Creating a Digital History Project the creators had to first identify their target audience. Historians Shelia Brennan and Sharon Leon stated, “From earliest stages, the project team identified primary and secondary audiences for the public history site, and then committed to measuring the effectiveness for reaching those people at all stages of the design, development, and implementation.” (Brennan Leon, 8). They narrowed down their target audience to individuals who visited the national mall every year. Similarly, my project will have to narrow down individuals interested in specific historical figures or events and frame the exhibit around them. I believe that successful public history projects engage the public in dialogue whether it is about a specific person, place, or event. The visitor must walk away with a new appreciation for what they witnessed or even history in general if the final project will be dedicated to conveying history to a wider audience through Omeka.

Digital public history projects should balance what the public audience desires with what content should be depicted. Real people should be consulted for what they want within an exhibit to make it successful. Erika Hall stated, “The goal of interviewing users is to learn about everything that might influence how the users might use what you’re creating. Good interviewing is a skill you develop with practice. The great myth is that you need to be a good talker. Conducting a good interview is actually about shutting up. This can be very hard, especially when you’re enthusiastic about the topic.” (Hall, Interviewing Humans). Public history projects begin through interviews to identify your audience and what they want to learn more about or have a particular interest in. I am specifically interested in the best way to convey my love of history to a wider audience. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that other people may not share my love of history in general or for a specific event. Therefore, I need to consider how I can create digestible materials for the public as well as inform them of a particular event or individual such as Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens or notorious outlaw Jesse James? The first three modules of this course depict ideas listed above through how audiences perceive digital history projects and how visitor feedback is critical to a project’s success. My main goal is conveying my love of history to a wider audience through past research on a specific topic but now I am considering if it would be better to create a medium where I can engage with the public on specific topics or create a website that links to different historical topics or areas of interest such as museums, libraries, government etc.

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