In a normal year, yesterday would have been the day in the semester when the students in Digital History would present their projects to an audience at the History and American Studies Department Spring Symposium. This is a tradition that began back in 2008 with the first iteration of the class. It was an amazing debut of digital history projects during a day which previously had been reserved for presentations of 30-40 page research papers. It was an important moment for digital history projects in the department and has continued to be a wonderful moment for the students, their friends, faculty, staff, and project partners.
I’m sorry we won’t be able to do that public in-person presentation this year. Nothing about this semester has been normal, but I am happy to share the projects and the students’ presentations on them once again. I am incredibly proud of their work, even as they were pulled away from each other and away from some of the original sources they were working with to digitize, analyze, and share.
I encourage you to check out each of the presentations and the Digital Public History sites that students created this semester.
It has undoubtedly been one of the strangest semesters in the past 50 years ago. We started out as a we normally do then things changed suddenly in late February. Cases of the Coronavirus had appeared in Washington State and schools there started to close to slow the spread. In early March there were reported cases in New York City and a few days later the first cases were found in Virginia. On the Monday I was having lunch with another professor and I suggested off-hand that we may have to switch to online instruction (I didn’t think it would happen). Just to hedge my bets, in class on Wednesday I spent the first few minutes of all of my classes talking about the plan to go online should that remote possibility come to fruition. I left campus at 4:45pm that day and a few minutes later I read the email from President Paino which told us that we’re going online and everybody that can leave campus should do so. So much has happened since then and it was undoubtedly strange to the students. I asked one of my outstanding students to finish off his internship by making a short documentary on how the changes have impacted him and other students. He put together this outstanding video to give that perspective. It’s quite good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFpbNKGOmnU