Internship Reflection #1

This year I will be interning at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Specifically, I will be working on a project headed up by the National Museum of African American History & Culture called the HBCU History and Culture Access Consortium (HCAC). The HCAC project will see the collaboration of 5 historically Black colleges and universities with the RRCHNM and various other partners. The aim of the project is to “preserve and interpret African American art, history, culture and memory” according to the Smithsonian’s informational page on the HCAC.

Thus far, the team at RRCHNM has worked with museum staff members at each of the HBCUs on evaluating aspects of their collection that will be digitized, as well as training the staff on how to use Omeka S. RRCHNM’s end product will be the creation of 5 cohesive but distinct websites that spotlight elements from the HBCU’s collections.┬áThe HCAC project fits well with RRCHNM’s mission to “democratize media” through the use of digital media and computer technology; the digital collections will be available to both researchers and the wider public.

Together with my classmate, Holly, this semester I will work on learning the ropes of Omeka S and thinking critically about metadata, resource templates, and item vocabularies. Additionally, I will narrow my work to focus on one HBCU and one of the collections that specific college or university will be spotlighting on their website. One of my goals this semester will be to compile an annotated bibliography with documents pertaining to the collection I’ve selected. The hope is that the research I compile can then be used to contextualize and inform the content on the online exhibit featured on the site to support the the digitized collection.

The school I’ve tentatively selected is Florida A&M University and the collection I’ve (also) tentatively selected is their collection of documents pertaining to the 1923 Rosewood Massacre. In two weeks, I’ll have a meeting with my mentor, Dr. Mills Kelly, to confirm my school and collection selection, hence my use of the word “tentative.” Additionally though, I recently became aware of a unique challenge with my choice of collection. Although the preservation and accessibility of documentations related to a tragedy as severe as the Rosewood Massacre is of vital importance, the fact of the matter is that thousands of pages of scanned text can on the surface appear a bit…dry. Compared to the physical objects and visually striking murals that some of the other HBCUs will be featuring on their sites, the Rosewood Collection will require a unique presentation to ensure that viewers don’t overlook the essential content contained within those documents.

I’m excited to face this challenge head-on, learn more about Omeka S, and get a close up look at such a complex project with multiple major partners.

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