Waco History App Review

The Waco History app and website is a product of two departments at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. The site/app was created using Omeka and Curatescape, similar to the Cleveland Historical and Spokane Historical websites/apps. The Waco History project currently offers 11 different tours, ranging from as little as 4 stops to 26 stops per tour. 192 individual stories are featured as part of the project, some of which include images, audio, and embedded maps in addition to informational text. The main page on the website and app features an embedded map that spotlights the geographical location of each individual story. Users can interact and can opt to turn on location tracking while using the app. The website also contains a link to the Waco History podcast, a separate (but semi-related) project.

The tours featured on the Waco History project website do not contain much information about the facilitation of the tour — whether it’s a walking or driving tour, the approximate duration of the tour, or the length of the tour in miles. This is different from similar projects like Nashville Sites, which provide exceptionally detailed information about their tours. A quick review of  Waco History’s longest tour — African American History — suggests that the tours were not necessarily created with the aim of being walk-able, since this tour contains 26 stops (some of which are located outside of Waco proper and would not be within walking distance). The Waco History team did facilitate a Scavenger Hunt in August of 2021 that occurred in downtown Waco — an area that can be feasibly explored on foot. This appears to have been a stand-alone event, however, and while WH has been very forthcoming about the resources used to create the scavenger hunt, no permanent scavenger hunt activity lives on either the website or app.

Because of these observations, I believe the Waco History project has created tours from an exhibit or museum collection mindset. Related stories have been grouped together via the tour feature, but more work may be needed to make the tours more user friendly in the field around Waco. In their current state, the tours and individual stories serve as outstanding resources for researchers and individuals seeking to learn more about the history of Waco, but an evergreen scavenger hunt activity (or multiple activities created around different themes) could enhance the user experience.

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