Tag Archives: education

A black locomotive climbs uphill.

Momentum! Momentum. Momentu… m… mo… men… tummm….. mo…………….

I’ve been busily editing the videos for the “Educational Materials” (which is in pretty dire need of a snappier name!). The animations came out great and I’m going to re-record a few video segments but we’re very close to posting time. Our video titles are:

  1. Why Digital Development?
  2. Best Practices for Web Communication
  3. All About Metadata
  4. What is the Connecting Presidential Collections (CPC) project?
  5. Bonus! “Open” Data? – an interview with Waldo Jaquith, director of U.S. Open Data

In addition to videos, we’re doing some writeups of supplemental content. Those are:

  • Scanning: Where to start, what to do
  • Funding options for digital development
  • Calls to action! Some strong examples
  • Community outreach ideas
  • Case studies
  • Survey results

Related (but less tangible) news:

As we head into the final phase of the CPC grant project, at times it definitely has been an uphill climb. One of our big challenges recently is in fighting to keep visibility and priority on the project internally… especially now that we’re past the initial excitement. Have any of you had that experience? It can be hard to maintain a sense of momentum without broad institutional support and enthusiasm.

That said, our secret as of late has been in planning: punch lists, marketing plans, looking toward “what comes next?” to maintain a sense of momentum.

How have you kept your focus on a less-visible project in the past? Do you think prioritizing a nearly-finished project is a common challenge? Are there institutional things (updates, meetings, marketing strategies) that have proven effective for inspiring ongoing internal support?

Resources for Teachers

The CPC team has been building up its collections, adding partners and digital items. As of now, CPC has about 250,000 digital items, more than 30 partners, and covers almost every U.S. president. We’ve come a long way!

Recently, we have partnered with Professor Kathryn Brownell of Purdue University to begin creating educational resources using the CPC materials. We strongly believe that CPC will be more useful to educators if resources are available for them. Professor Brownell has created Recasting American Presidential History in the Classroom. Her work is focused on undergraduates students and reconsiders how the presidency is taught.

She says it best:

“…this website will encourage students to study the American presidency from a sociocultural perspective. This website aims to begin a classroom conversation about the American presidency in ways that capitalize on a generation of insights from social, economic, cultural, and political historians.”

Offering secondary sources, primary sources, discussion questions, and research activities, Brownell looks at the U.S. presidency from a variety of different angles, reconsidering the traditional approach of teaching the presidency that focuses on a “top-down” approach to history. Right now, there are three modules completed, with the remaining seven scheduled to be done by the fall.

Tomorrow Brownell and I are heading to the National Council for History Education conference to debut her project. We are excited to offer this unique educational resource. And we are thrilled to be able to do it at the NCHE.


The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

Just wanted to send out a quick thanks to all of the wonderful folks who made my trip last week such a success. After leaving Ohio, I headed to Indianapolis and the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. I had a fantastic conversation with folks at the site, and was able to see a whirlwind tour of the Harrison home, which was especially neat since it was newly decorated for the holidays.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential LibraryIMG_4573

Finally—last stop!—I headed to Springfield, IL, to the land of Lincoln and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Springfield is impressively dedicated to all-things-Lincoln, and (in an incredibly fitting final act) I flew out of Abraham Lincoln airport on my way back east—though not before stopping by the Lincoln tomb for a quick visit.

I truly wish I had more time to really dig into the sites I visited last week, but I felt very successful in accomplishing the goals set out for the CPC project. We came out of last week with a few new potential partners for the site, and lots of information about challenges shared across the field. All of the sites I visited, in one way or another, had come up with wonderful solutions to digital challenges… and I left with an invigorated faith in the ability of a dedicated staff to overcome almost any hurdle.

But that’s a bit beside the point, because the broader goal at this phase of the CPC project is to look at those challenges and see how we might help. So I’ll take this moment to reiterate the (New! Improved!) survey, which will be invaluable as we continue to sleuth out challenges and solutions. How might we help YOU? What’s challenged you in the past?

Have 5 minutes and want to help? Take the survey! And yes, I mean YOU!

A million thanks to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, the Harding Home, the Ohio History Connection, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library for making my trip a successful one. These sites are each, in their own unique ways, such impressive treasures. I appreciate each taking the time to talk with me and make the personal connection.

That’s it for me for now. Safe Thanksgiving travels, everyone!IMG_4574

Ohio, Indiana, Illinois: Halfway point!

IMG_4539I’ve had a great trip to Ohio so far—beautiful snow, impressive sites, and delicious food. I want to send out a special “Thanks!” to Nan Card at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (www.rbhayes.org) for braving the incoming lake-effect snow (that really was something!) to spend time talking with me about the CPC project and ways to address challenges facing modern libraries. The Hayes Center’s grounds were beautiful in the snow, I wish I had more time to stay!

The Rutherford B. Hayes Center

IMG_4545 FullSizeRender

Ohio History Connection

Yesterday I had a wonderful meeting with folks from the Ohio History Connection (http://www.ohiohistory.org/) and the Harding Home (http://www.hardinghome.org/)… while I wish I had days and days and days to soak in this area’s incredible offerings, meeting Conway the Mastodon was surely a highlight of my trip.


I can’t help going on a small tangent: Ohio History Connection is also currently displaying a full Lustron home (http://www.ohiohistory.org/exhibits/ohio-history-center-exhibits/1950s), a popular modular-type home that was immensely popular post-World War II. The home was complete with furniture, dishes, and even an in-sink machine meant to wash dishes and, at other times, clothes! Pragmatic to the max, I loved seeing it.

Lustron home, as seen at the Ohio History Connection, 2014

In the next few days I’m heading through Indianapolis and Springfield, IL. Think I can take Tim Hortons’ “Timbits” on the plane?


Layering up, heading out!

NOAA temperature forecast map, 11/17
Gonna be nippy.

Cold snap be darned, I am very excited this week to be heading to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to visit some fantastic presidential sites and talk about the CPC project.

The goals for the trip are two-fold: I’ll be meeting with a few sites to talk about the CPC project and what we’re building, but I’ll also be informally interviewing folks about their successes and challenges in the area of digital development. CPC will only succeed as an inclusive and thorough resource if we’re able to enable collection-holders to participate.

We’ve already seen a wide range of digital abilities, and one goal of the current phase is to examine that: What’s the state of digital collections in the world of presidential history? Can we put those needs into shared categories and begin to bridge the gaps? What would it take to make digital collections easier, cheaper, and more attainable?

Follow me on Twitter @pres_collection for updates on my trip—I love this area of the country, I love being on the road. I promise to keep it interesting!

If you’re in the Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, or Springfield area and are interested in having a chat, send me a message or comment below. I’d love to hear from you!