This first post serves as a brainstorming exercise to think through a potential final project idea to teach an aspect of history to a museum audience. I have three ideas that may be appropriate for such a project.
Option I: One of the major historiographical questions surrounding the Reconstruction Era is, “Was Reconstruction a Failure?” Many years ago while I studied abroad at Cardiff University in Wales. I enrolled in a class entitled: “An Empire for Liberty”: Race, Space, and Power in the United States, 1775-1898. taught by Dr. David Doddington. The module concluded with a final paper that allowed me to answer that historiographical question. Reconstruction from 1863-1877 has largely been considered a failure, but for different reasons that have changed and evolved since 1877. My main topic would be to analyze the ways that Reconstruction succeeded and failed through primary sources such as newspapers, Congressional Globe meeting minutes, pamphlets, political cartoons, and lithographs. My main problem with creating the above project is that the failure question relies on Secondary sources rather than primary sources. It Could still be possible by altering its framework. My initial audience will likely be college-age students and the public who are interested in visiting museums or archives because of the source materials and subject matter.
My initial project may change from this blog posts’ publication. I am subsequently interested in political history from my University education. I could frame my project to educate the public on the political history of Reconstruction. I envision my intended audience engaging with this project through the use of interactive materials such as geolocation through Omeka or similar software. Nevertheless, I need to fine-tune how my audience will engage with the project. I need to brainstorm additional ways to create such a project. I envision my final project to focus on themes of political or social history that allow me to utilize spatial data because of my interest in mapping history through data visualizations.
Option II: A second tentative project could potentially be to teach the memory of the Great War, WWI, to a museum audience. During my undergrad, I completed a class over the Great War and learned that every country created a monument or memorial to the conflict. A potential final project could be to trace WWI Memory through geolocation to create a map of all of the memorials and monuments. This may be more practical for this class given the time constraints. The project will use Omeka, geolocation, or similar mapping software. I tentatively believe that Omeka may be the best option for this potential project. This project would mainly involve photographs, documents, potentially newspaper articles, and similar sources. I could potentially expand this to analyze the memory of both WWI and WWII but I think WWI would be sufficient for this project. My audience would be college-age or adult museum visitors.
Option III: My third tentative final project emerged from an idea I had when I studied at Cardiff. The Welsh people are a very unique group with a unique culture, heritage, religion, and language which makes them who they are as citizens. In 2011 Wales had a devolution referendum and created their own Parliament separate from the UK Parliament in London. Wales and England voted to leave the European Union during the 2016 Brexit referendum. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. I think it is worthwhile to create a project to convey the history of Wales to the public to teach college students about a new culture and expand their worldview. The primary sources I would use include government documents, photographs, literature, and potential audio recordings that I can access. This potential project may be feasible for this class or for my own interest and enjoyment as a hobby during or after the class.
I am torn between which potential project to pursue. I believe from a practical standpoint option 2 may be the best because of time constraints and access to primary sources. Nevertheless, I am open to comments, questions, and criticism as I continue with this process.