Tag Archives: social media

Preserving Civil War Memory at Gettysburg College

Calling all digital historians and archivists: If after reading this you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments section.  I will make sure they get passed on to the right people.  Thanks.

Imagine signing on as the Systems and Emerging Technologies Librarian and being told that the library recently purchased two blogs.  For Zach Coble of Gettysburg College the question now is what to do with Civil War Memory and Keith Harris’s Cosmic America.

This is an exciting project for Gettysburg College.  Although the Library of Congress is also archiving this site it’s nice to know that it will made available at Gettysburg as well.  I’ve suggested before that I think we have to begin to shift our understanding of historical memory in the digital/web2.o world.  Blogs and other social media tools have democratized the sharing of history  further than anyone could have imagined just a few short years ago and it also has made it possible for a much wider demographic to share their own understanding of the Civil War and its legacy.  As a result the categories that frame our understanding of the evolution of Civil War memory will need to be revised if not discarded entirely to make sense of the sesquicentennial years.  It is my hope that this site will function as a unique window into the world of Civil War memory at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

It looks like they found just the right person to take the lead on this project:.

It’s exciting to explore new forms of scholarship, but we’re not exactly sure what to do with the blogs. Although the blogs are currently active they will not always be, so we must determine how we want to preserve them. Since none of us are experts in digital preservation, we are trying to understand at a conceptual level how best to approach this project.

This initiative has required us to think of larger issues concerning the library’s role in digital curation. Should libraries even try to preserve blogs and other digital content? Are we equipped, in terms of technology and staffing, to take on this kind of work? Can’t we rely on the big names in the field like the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive to take care of this?

As an employee of a cultural institution, I’m biased to believe that libraries (as well as archives, museums, and others) have a responsibility to preserve cultural content as it fits within the mission, goals, and collection development policy of the organization. I also believe that institutions need to take responsibility and work to inform themselves so they can properly care for the digital materials in their own collections.

The agreement that I signed includes other resources (digital and hard copy) as well, but any discussion of that will have to wait until we sort out some of the details.  I will be sure to provide additional updates as this project evolves.

Turning Likes and Followers Into Sales

A good friend of mine recently set up a Facebook page for her forthcoming book on the role of Christianity in shaping the concept of race in early Virginia.  She asked friends on Facebook as well as her Twitter followers to go ahead and “like” the page and within a couple of days had reached 100 fans.  Pretty good showing, but creating a Facebook page or Twitter account for a book is the easy part.  The challenge is in turning those social media connections or virtual clicks of support into sales.

Now I am certainly no Chris Brogan, but over the past few years I have learned a little bit about turning likes and follower into sales.  Of course, whether what I’ve learned actually pans out will be seen in the next few weeks.  Here are a couple of suggestions.

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A Sesquicentennial From the Bottom-Up

The following video was uploaded to YouTube a couple of days ago.  I know nothing about the woman who produced it, but I think it is a wonderful example of how the Web2.0 world has shaped the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  As opposed to the centennial years, when relatively few historical institutions exercised control over how the nation remembered the war, the sesquicentennial’s narrative is being written one blog post, one video, and one tweet at a time. Much of what is being produced, including this video, defies easy categorization. Watch this through to the end.

Moving the Civil War Sesquicentennial Beyond Facebook and Twitter

Over the past few days I’ve been putting together some thoughts for a panel on the Civil War sesquicentennial that I am taking part in this coming April at the annual meeting of the OAH in Milwaukee.  I shared my proposal a few months ago and am now trying to fill in some of the detail.  I am very interested in the implications of social media on how public historians in museums and other institutions have utilized these tools during the sesquicentennial.

As I suggested in my proposal, social media has fundamentally changed the commemorative landscape.  Whereas 50 years ago only a few institutions were positioned to shape a national Civil War remembrance the democratization of the web means that all of our voices can now be heard.  Most institutions have done a pretty good job of utilizing social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to disseminate information to the public, but what are they doing to engage their audience?  Social media is a 2-way street and I am not simply thinking of a Facebook page that allows for readers’ comments.

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How Web 2.0 Rescued Silas Chandler’s Memory

Impressed Slaves Working on Confederate Earthworks

At the beginning of Tuesday night’s History Detectives episode Wes Cowan offered the following assessment of his Antiques Road Show appraisal of the now famous tintype of Silas and Andrew Chandler:

Guys, I can’t tell you how exciting this is for me. After the Roadshow episode aired there were a lot of questions that were raised about the story.  Viewers wrote in droves to question whether the African American in the picture was a slave or a free man and whether so-called black Confederates were a myth. It’s a story and a debate that I also find fascinating.

I was one of those viewers, but I chose to speak out on this blog.  Of course, I had been writing about Silas and the broader mythology of black Confederate soldiers for some time, but this particular episode probably did more to push me over the edge than anything else.  Here was a chance on national television to debunk many of the wild claims made about the role of African Americans in the Confederacy and essentially a family’s story was allowed to pass as history.

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