Reflection on this Semester

This semester was a tough one: I was incredibly busy with all three classes I took this semester, as well as in my personal life. However, I felt as though I learned a lot this semester and am excited with how my final project turned out.

First, I loved the topic of this course. Public history has always been an interest of mine. The school I went to for undergrad sat on a historic area of Maryland, on which there is a public history institution today. As an archaeology student, I ended up doing a lot of public history work at digs and field schools, showing and teaching the public about archaeology. It was really wonderful to take this course, as it reinforced a lot of my own knowledge about public  history. I was also introduced to public history projects that I was previously unfamiliar with. Getting introduced to new projects and tools used for public history helps me gain an understanding of the scope of this discipline. It also helped me formulate ideas for my project.

I was really unsure what I wanted to do more project. This was mostly because I had a hard time visualizing what I could do and what possibilities I had. I had never made a digital public history project before! And I am still fairly unfamiliar with digital tools, making websites, etc. Of course, I wanted to make a project on something I’m interested in and something I’m passionate about.

Eventually, with the help of Professor Leon, I came up with a few ideas. My favorite idea came from some of my travels to Poland. I have been fascinated with the idea of memory about the Jewish past in Poland. Particularly the city of Warsaw, which once had one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, fascinates me. The city was nearly completely destroyed during World War II, along with its Jewish population. When I visit Warsaw, I am struck by how little of the Jewish town is left, and by how the main way to remember Jewish history in Warsaw is through monuments and memorials.

Jewish Warsaw became my project for this semester. I used Omeka to store items, in this case the locations of Jewish history in Warsaw. From Omeka, I was able to design a website to showcase these sites. The hope of Jewish Warsaw is that people interested in Jewish history, or people interested in traveling to Warsaw, would have a guide to the Jewish history of the town. I also wanted to add a map to the project. I ended up using the Geolocation plugin through Omeka to link my sites with a map of Warsaw. I would have preferred to use something like Curatescape, but I didn’t have enough time to learn how to use it. Hopefully I could learn how to use Curatescape in the future. For now, Geolocation gets the job done and is really easy to use.

I realized that it is an incredibly tedious process to create a digital project. I only ended up having around 12 items (there are so few Jewish sites left in Warsaw) and yet it took months of editing, adding, and re-editing to make it better and better. I realized that this type of project could, in essence, never be “finished.” It is a constant work in progress, and could be edited and fixed forever. This is frustrating, but its also exciting. I could essentially keep adding and working on this project for years.

Ultimately, I am happy with project. I think the topic is fascinating and I love seeing all the components of my research come together. While I think my project could look better, for my first time ever creating a website, I think I did pretty well. I am excited to have a finished project and one that I would be excited to share with others.

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