NCPH Working Group meeting, September 26

Conference call with: Anjuli Grantham, Celia James, Allison Marsh, Claire White

We had a conference call using Wiggio’s FREE conference call set up.  We discussed the Working Group call for discussants, the ongoing ELE project, and our own other work.  Anjuli and Claire were both excited about ELE, but facing ever-changing situations.

  • The Barnauv museum is focusing on the story of a histori murder that happened in the location of the museum.  The motive was a denial of credit.  Anjuli was concerned whether this would still fit the American Enterprise business theme, but we all agreed it was an excellent topic that humanizes business and gives it intrigue.
  • The Nantucket Historical Association’s plan to use a high school’s local history class has some personnel problems – mainly, that the students in this year’s class are much less engaged than in last years and facing some high barriers like illiteracy.  We discussed how perhaps the visual nature of an online exhibit might intrigue them, but it depends on the students’ motivation, ultimately.

We all are looking forward to the working group and we discussed the call for discussants.  The process/timeline for our working group (following NCPH and our own conversation from this meeting) is below.  Also following the post is our call for discussants for the 2013 NCPH Annual Meeting.  It will also be available here:  However, as of this writing, they are not yet posted.  UPDATE:  it is now online!

The working group process goes something like this:

  • October 16-20:  We will be reviewing the discussant applicants.  That is a VERY short window, so we will need all the help we can get.  It has already been shortened by a day as originally the deadline for discussants to apply was October 15.  Assuming this is still the schedule, we have a conference call meeting set up for October 18 at 3:30pm EST.  Celia is in charge of dividing up working group discussant applications and scheduling the conference call.
  • October 20 or after:  We will send the discussants a welcome message, articulating our goals and giving them focused questions to consider.  Allison will write this, asking discussants for their exhibit idea and to give us a list of questions they would like answered, as well as concerns, stumbling blocks, and group problems they see in developing an online exhibit.
  • Early November (our deadline).  They should respond to our welcome message with a case statement of 750-1000 words (NCPH requirement).  We have decided on early November so that it helps us identify what learning modules we should focus on as the school year continues.
  • Mid-November.  We should go over all the case statements and identify common themes, problems, and construct a working group agenda.  At this point we will set-up a separate (but linked) blog for working group discussion.  We decided on a blog because this will help us continue our “learning in public” agenda.  Celia will set up the blog.
  • Late-November through March.  We will moderate a discussion on the blog about the online exhibit and the commonalities we found.  We are welcome to assign readings or other items as we see fit in the interest of addressing the issue of developing online exhibits.
  • Wednesday, April 17.  Working group at NCPH Annual Meeting in Ottawa.  We meet in person to go over the work we have done over the previous 5 months an present it to the NCPH community at large.

Exhibiting Local Enterprise:  Developing Online Exhibits    [WED 3-5pm]

Facilitators:         Celia James, University of South Carolina; Anjuli Grantham, Baranov Museum; Claire White, Nantucket Historical Association; Allison Marsh, University of South Carolina;;;

How do you reach audiences at your small museum or local historical institution?  How can the digital world help you do so?  What is involved in the process of creating online exhibits?  How do institutions with limited staff and little or no technical support tackle such a project?  This working group will consider these questions by using, evaluating, and refining “Exhibiting Local Enterprise” (ELE), a series of learning tools designed to help history institutions create online exhibits to showcase their local business history.  ELE leads participants through the process of guided inquiry.  The theme of the conference, the significance of audiences, is at the core of the discussion, as ELE must respond to several distinct audiences: the staff and volunteers at history institutions who are struggling to establish a digital presence, the local audiences of history institutions, and the global one established via the internet.  The learning modules increase institutions capacity to make informed decisions, create quality on-line exhibitions and to share local business history to different audiences through the digital realm.

We are seeking professionals at history institutions who are interested in exhibiting local business history online but do not have the knowledge or technical skills to do so, as well as professionals at small museums and historical societies who are in the process of doing so or perhaps have recently created such a digital project.  Discussants will analyze the particulars of how ELE addresses these concerns and how well it guides institutional staff through the process.  ELE was created to fulfill a mission to “learn in public” by documenting the experience of graduate students during the creation of a digital business history exhibit of cotton mills in Columbia, South Carolina and then using that experience to educate professionals at small history institutions.  ELE is a product of the University of South Carolina’s Public History Program, in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Baranov Museum in Kodiak, Alaska, and the Nantucket Historical Association.  The online exhibits created for this project are expected to bring local voices to the Smithsonian’s national exhibition American Enterprise, scheduled to open in 2015.