No matter who the society or where the location, there have always been pictorial representations of people, places, and things dating back centuries. These pictorial representations were brought to life in 1826 when Joseph Nicéphora Niépce burned a permanent image of a French landscape onto a chemically coated pewter plate using a camera obscura, more commonly known as a black room. Niépce’s first permanent photograph revolutionized the way societies document their world. Historians now have millions of photographs from around the world that are truly snapshots of the past.
This week we’ve been drawn yet again to a number of articles related to digital history. See two articles on how digital libraries challenge physical libraries, check out jobs in the digital humanities, browse over 250 “killer digital libraries,” and learn about a new project to create virtual Colonial Williamsburg sites. Then, peek into the writing process of Ian Kershaw, read Mary Dudziak’s take on W., and check out the newest addition to The Commons (a project of the flickr photo sharing site).
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has posted reports on the impact of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav on historic buildings in the affected areas, including several National Trust properties. On September 17, representatives of the Galveston Historical Foundation received permission from authorities to visit Galveston Island to assess the damage. They report that the Strand National Historic Landmark District and East End residential district sustained serious flood damage. The Trust is seeking volunteer structural engineers and architects to work with the Galveston Historical Foundation, Preservation Texas, and preservation groups to assess affected properties and work to save as many as possible.
This edition of What We’re Reading should have a code name and secret password. We start off with news of the recent release of Office of Strategic Services files and the revelation of identities of some agents. Then, we turn to NPR, with a story on Fort Hunt Park in Virginia’s secret role in WWII. We turn next to history blogs to hear about bad experiences with the Academic Job Wiki and good experiences with bad history films. Want to partner with the Government Printing Office?
We start off this week’s “What We’re Reading” with a couple of articles discussing Anthony Grafton and Robert B. Townsend’s "Historians’ Rocky Job Market" article, recently published in the Chronicle. Then peruse vacation destinations from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, learn about a request for proposals from the National Assessment Governing Board, and discover George Washington’s childhood home for yourself in an article from the Washington Post. Also included this week is news of renovations at the Gettysburg Cyclorama, the history of campaigning for president, a blog on strange maps, and evaluations of the AHA.
Our readers who are teaching 20th-century U.S. history this fall may be interested in the new Civil Rights Digital Library, based at the University of Georgia. Covering the 1950s and 1960s era of the civil rights movement, the digital library initiative seeks to document one of the most important social movements in U.S. history. The site possesses a video archive of unedited news film from two Georgia television stations, an incredible list of educator resources featuring annotated bibliographies, lesson plans and modules, slide shows, study guides, and worksheets, and acts as a media portal to resource collections in other prominent libraries.
As we round out the last weeks in May we note that this month many celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage, and we link to a Library of Congress page of resources for that. Speaking of commemoration, sometimes it comes with challenges. For instance, we’ve been reading articles about the ongoing design debate over the Martin Luther King memorial. From the National Coalition for History we’ve learned about recent grants and awards, while we look to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for its most recent list of the Most Endangered Historic Places.
If you’re interested in art, art history, or just cultural artifacts in general, visit The Museum of Online Museums (MoOM), established by Coudal Partners, a design studio based in Chicago. MoOM’s elegant web site has a long list of links (sorted by categories) to the web sites of established brick-and-mortar museums like The Met and the National Gallery of Art (included under the “The Museum Campus” category), a regular collection of links to exhibits of particular interest to design and advertising (“The Permanent Collection”), as well as links to an eclectic mix of online photography and cultural detritus, featuring things like a Pez dispenser museum, Delaware postcards, and thrift store art (“Galleries, Exhibitions, and Shows”).