Selecting A Project

The choice of a project for the semester-long project is an important one, and I hope that you will put a good amount of thought into it.

Make sure that you have thought through the following qualities needed:

Historical significance

Your final project will be a proposal to digitize materials that you have selected. A major part of that proposal needs to outline why the materials are historically valuable, what historians and other users will be able to do with them, and how they relate to the humanities. Make sure that your idea passes this important "sniff test." If you can’t get excited about the idea of mounting the materials on the web, it isn’t likely that others will.

You can set up the project in a couple of ways:

  1. You could digitize an existing collection, either the entire thing or a part of it.
  2. You could digitize a collection of materials from a number of archives or libraries, tied together by a theme.
  3. You could digitize one complicated document, creating a website of surrounding materials, such as a diary, trial transcript, oral history, or literary manuscript.

Historical materials

While there are many websites designed around secondary research, one of the purposes of this course is provide you with experience in making decisions about digitizing primary source materials. While your digital project can (and should) include interpretive materials, a significant portion needs to be primary source materials, whether manuscripts, books, film, audio, etc.


You will need access to information about the collection(s) and items you are proposing to digitize. A collection that you can physically access, whether it is in a nearby archive or available on microfilm at Bobst or another area library, is a good place to start, but if you want to consider working with material that is located elsewhere, make sure that you will be able to obtain a small sample of materials to be digitized for your proposal. You do not need to digitize the sample yourself, but make sure from the start that you will be able to obtain digitized samples from the archive.


You do not need special access to the collection(s) in order to undertake this project, but you should make certain that there will not be too many obstacles. It would be best if you had the cooperation of the archives which hold the original materials, and you might want to discuss the project with the archivist or curator. You might be able to learn about copyright issues, how the collection has been used, and whether there will be any problem obtaining scans of a few originals.

Assignment: For class next week, do the readings and come with three basic ideas for a project, identifying the collection or theme, and a general sense of the scale of the project. This can be three completely different projects, or different takes on digitizing the same materials. We will discuss these in class to help you make your decision. If you are unsure about the assignment, please e-mail me at ude.uyn|ojah.yhtac#ude.uyn|ojah.yhtac.

Some readings that might help:

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