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Internship Update #4: Spring Semester

I recently began the second semester of my internship with the Smithsonian’s Conflict Culture Research Network. Last semester, the George Mason interns worked on archiving museums and cultural repositories in the Caribbean. This project was particularly important at the time due to the multiple major hurricanes that hit the Caribbean around last September. The CCRN had no information on Caribbean museums cataloged, so this region was designated as a priority. I worked on cataloguing museums in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Our work on the Caribbean finished up in December.

Starting in January, the GMU interns began working on finalizing lists from other countries around the world that are not finished yet. I specifically asked to work on the Poland list because my research focuses on Polish history. I am very grateful to be able to work on this list and am thankful to the Smithsonian staff for allowing me the opportunity to work with data that interests me.

When I first received the Poland list, about eighty percent of the list had already been mostly completed. However, it was difficult to work on the rest of the list because the list was in no specific order. This became an issue for me when I started to work on one museum but had difficulty finding it on Google. I wanted to look at the other museums listed in that same town to help distinguish which specific museum I was looking for on Google. However, it was really difficult to find the other sites because the list was in no order. Because of this, I reorganized the list so it would be alphabetical by town name. In this way, I can view all the museums in the same town easily which can make discovering other museum sites much simpler.

This work is slightly different than the work we were doing last semester. Last semester, we had small lists of sites in the regions we were assigned. It was then up to us to discover all the information we could on them and also find other museums that were not already on the list. This semester, we are working primarily on finalizing museum lists. The lists we are working on are nearly finished, it is just up to us to finish them.

I am not sure yet what we will be assigned after we have finished these sites. The Smithsonian wants to create a digital platform for the data we are compiling and we talked at one point about helping them think of the best way to share this information. Hopefully we will get to work on that component of the project. It would be exciting to help them establish this data on a digital site.

This internship was the perfect experience for me. I am still working on my master’s degree which takes most of my time. Working on the spreadsheets can be calming, especially when compared with my work for school. I also find this internship interesting, as I love museums and cultural heritage. Finally, I enjoy working on a project that resonates with me, as some of my research focuses on the preservation of material culture and memory.

HIST689: Introductory Post

This week, I am starting my third class in the Digital Public Humanities graduate certificate program. It’s hard to believe that I have already completed two out of three of the courses for this certificate! This post will serve as an introduction to myself for this new course.

My name is Alison Curry. I am twenty three years old and I live in Gaithersburg, MD. In May 2016, I graduated with my BA in Anthropology and History from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Now, I am a full-time graduate student, attempting to complete two graduate programs concurrently. Besides working on this certificate program, I am enrolled in a Masters degree program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies through Gratz College.

I decided to enroll in this certificate program because I yearned to expand my skills and knowledge of digital technology. For my senior thesis, I had hopes to map a portion of my data. However, with only one GIS class under my belt and a lack of time, I ended up finishing my thesis without a map component. Luckily, I was able to complete this part of my research project in the first course of this certificate.

My research interests surround Polish-Jewish history and Jewish material culture. More specifically, I am fascinated by how Polish citizens today are remembering the Jewish past of Poland. It is this question that I love to research. I am very happy to have been able to complete two projects for this certificate that focus on my research interests in some way.

I am very excited for this course, Teaching and Learning History in the Digital Age. I hope one day to be an educator in some way and I hope to be able to apply the digital technology skills I’m learning in this program to any teaching I do in the future. I have only taken one other education-focused class, but I really enjoyed it. I think this course will expand my knowledge and interest in education and the tools that can be used to best present history.

Introduction

Hello, my name is Alison Curry!

I created this blog for a Digital Public Humanities graduate certificate that I am currently working on that is offered through George Mason University. I am also currently working on a Masters degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from Gratz College.

My interest in Digital Public Humanities stems from some research I started while an undergraduate student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. For my senior research thesis, I was researching the memory of the Jewish past in contemporary Poland. In order to understand this memory, I focused on how Jewish material culture, including cemeteries and mezuzah impressions, is being remembered in Poland today.  At the time, I had wanted to map the data I had collected on Jewish cemeteries but had very limited knowledge on how to do so.

My research advisor suggested that I complete this certificate program with the hope of gaining insight into digital tools that I could use for my studies in history. Last semester, I was able to successfully map my cemetery work in the Introduction to Digital Public Humanities course. Now, I am taking a course on Digital Public History, which I am very excited about. While I have not personally worked on a public history site, I have been to many and also studied many of these sites. I am excited about public history for the education potential of these projects.

I am excited for this class because I could one day end up working at at a site of public history or work in the field of public history. This class would help prepare me for careers in public history and provide me with more knowledge and experience in digital public humanities.

Social Media Strategy

My project for this course will be mapping of Jewish cemeteries in Poland. Specifically, my research focuses on how Jewish material culture (cemeteries, synagogues, mezuzot, mikvot, etc) are being remembered in Poland (if they are actually being remembered at all).

I have previously collected data on these cemeteries and compiled this data into a spreadsheet. I am working on editing the spreadsheet to make it compatible with CartoDB and then I will be able to map.

A social media presence would enable me to share the results of my project with historians/anthropologists, museums, and other digital humanities projects/scholars. I’d hope that this could spark discussions on this subject matter and suggestions on how I could further this research.

The best method for sharing my mapping project would be to create a blog specifically for this project. I could see myself sharing not only my maps on remembrance, but also interesting information or stories that I have discovered while researching these Jewish cemeteries.

My hope for this project on memory is to contribute to the ongoing discussions on memory. Many of the complications in Polish-Jewish relations are due to this issue of remembrance: how do Poles remember the Jewish population of Poland? My research on Jewish material culture in Poland, which is ongoing, might provide new insights into the world of Polish-Jewish relations.

Success would be measured based on views/interactions on the blog. I would want to project my blog by connecting it with my other social media accounts in order to increase views and communicate with other organizations working on similar subjects.

One of my main goals for completing this mapping project is to eventually write a paper about it. Then I could expand my research towards other types of Jewish material culture in Poland. Social media is a great way to connect with others that are working on similar projects. I am looking forward to starting a social media presence about my work and then possibly expanding not only my research but also the social media presence on it.