Close to the Finish Line!

This week Julia, Jack, Candice, and I have been working on the UMW and overarching CA websites, mostly just making tweaks to existing content. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for Candice, Candice now has a real-life job at the Virginia Historical Society! It’s really awesome, but we never get to see her anymore. :(

For the CA site, I finally got the timeline to order the categories correctly, thanks to the wonderful Ryan Brazell from DTLT! Ryan informed me that the categories structure themselves based on chronology–so the “International” events appeared before the “National” events because the first International event occurred in 1914, whereas our first National event occurred in 1916. For simplicity’s sake, we decided the easiest event to add would be Woodrow Wilson’s election to the presidency in 1912. We also added his re-election in 1916, especially because his primary platform was neutrality. I also decided to add a link on the home CA page to the timeline within the widget, so that there is something on the home page (besides a menu option) that prompts viewers to explore the timeline. We made the minor changes to our wording that Dr. Pearson suggested. The only other change is on the “About” page. I change the links for each school (within the main content–not the widget) to go to those institutions, rather than the CA websites. Additionally, I thought it would be nice to link to our digital portfolios. Aside from our group, only Dara has told me that she is working on a digital portfolio that we can link to. If anyone else has one, please let me know! The only huge thing we have left to do for the CA site is to add a bibliography with the full citations for images from the timeline.

As far as the UMW site goes, we are currently experimenting with drop caps (inspired by the lovely Jenn!) and footnote placement. For the drop caps, sadly the plugin is not totally compatible with our pages because the first letter of our page content is often not the first letter of the paragraph. I added CSS myself for the drop caps and will have to put them individually on each page, but it really doesn’t take that long. For the footnotes, we ultimately decided that having them on the page will be much better than having them all lumped together on a separate page. We liked the idea of having drop-down citations, and once again, DTLT came to our rescue! Timmy sent Jack some code so that our citations can exist at the bottom of the page, but are essentially hidden until visitors choose to view them. We need to go over each of the pages with a fine-toothed grammar comb. Otherwise, the only huge thing we have to do for the UMW site is to add a comprehensive bibliography.

Since most of what we have been doing is making tweaks to the two websites, our in-class update in Dr. McClurken’s Digital History seminar was an exciting game of jeopardy! If you all are curious, our jeopardy game can be found here. At Julia’s extremely clever suggestion, we rewarded the winning team with Smarties and the losing teams with Dum Dums.

We’re really excited to be so close to finishing our project! (But also sad because we want to research more and add even more to the site!)

Writing and Pulling the Site Together

This week our milestone was to have all of the text for our website drafted, and we successfully met it! Not all of the text has been uploaded and published on our site yet–that is the next step that we will be working on. We also need to add in citations for our work (an issue that we are still discussing: footnotes? endnotes? where do we put them? etc.). Colin mentioned in class that I showed him how to do footnotes in WP. For anyone else interested, here are the basic instructions.

  1. Place the numbers for your footnotes where they would normally appear in the text body.
  2. When you’re writing a post, there are two view options: Visual and Text. The default view is Visual. To make a footnote, switch to the Text view (top right-hand corner).
  3. Find the numbers that you need to superscript.
  4. Enclose the footnote numbers in the superscript tags, like so: “sup”1″/sup”. Except instead of quotes, use the triangular brackets <  > .
  5. At the bottom of your post/page, create a line (I simply use A LOT of hyphens). This step can be done in the Visual or the Text view.
  6. Then start numbering and list your citations! It should look like so:

This is a sentence containing information that needs to be cited.1 If you have any questions, just ask!

Additionally, we’ve also been ironing out navigation issues with our site. I am an advocate of drop-down menus, so that visitors wouldn’t have to return to the Fredericksburg or FSNS homepages in order to choose another category. Basically, it’s easier navigation. However, Julia, Candice, and Jack didn’t like the idea of drop-down menus, especially because they can be distracting if accidentally moused over by a viewer. We have compromised by adding links at the bottom of each narrative, so that viewers may continue on to the next story (or go back), and we will also include navigation links in a custom sidebar so that visitors do not have to scroll all the way to the bottom for navigation. The sidebar is also great because it shortens the width of our text area, which was too large for our liking–we were afraid it would intimidate viewers.

Another navigation issue we struggled with was where to place the icons for each narrative within the Fredericksburg and FSNS main pages. We want visitors to read the introduction text, so we initially placed the icons at the bottom. However, when they are at the bottom, you can’t see them until you scroll all the way down–visitors may never know that they’re down there if they don’t bother to read the whole page! We considered placing them alongside the text, Wikipedia-style, but decided that that method wouldn’t look as visually appealing. Our only concern with having the icons at the top of the page was that visitors would automatically click the icons without reading the introduction. However, as long as we keep the icons a reasonable size (which we are) visitors can still see the text below and know that there is something they should read before looking at the other narratives. A classmate of ours (from UMW’s ADH2014 class) suggested labelling the narratives chapters–an idea which we really like and are trying to incorporate into the site. We aren’t going to number the chapters because that may seem too constricting, so we are just keeping them as categorical chapters.

Aside from the larger issues of navigation and layout, we have been battling the smaller issues in WP like image gallery spacing and visibility of image captions. We have also been having great debates about what pictures to use for the icons on the Fredericksburg and FSNS main pages, as well as the home page for the entire site. It’s taken a lot of backtracking and persistence, but we have finally located images from the time period that are representative of Fredericksburg and FSNS, as well as each of the categories we discuss. (There is one category–Influenza Epidemic at FSNS–that we could not find the perfect image for. We were hoping to find an image of the FSNS infirmary, which I thought definitely existed, but apparently my brain completely fabricated that memory. We settled for a picture of two students in nursing uniforms.) Finding these images has actually been really exciting because they help the site take a much better shape and definition!

Finally, we have also been working on the overarching Century America home page. Candice talked to the MapsAlive people and Dr. McClurken has cleared it for our use!2 This interactive map will be on the CA homepage and have links to the websites for each of our schools. The homepage will also contain brief information about the project and class. On a separate page there will be a large timeline (thanks everyone for sending me your dates and citations!) with school, national, and international events from the time period. The CA will also have a separate “About” page and “Credits” page.

It has been an exciting week for us at UMW–we love the shape our site is finally taking!!

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1.  Wow, a footnote! How cool!
2. Special thanks to Dr. McClurken for finally approving our choice of MapsAlive.

Digitization, Writing, and War Orphans

This week’s progress report for the UMW group can be found here! I just have a few comments of my own to add.

As Jack mentions in the progress report, we went back to the CRHC this week to make digitization requests. The woman who normally scans was not in that day, but the next day she scanned and emailed me all of the items that I requested.  I also received scans from UMW Special Collections (only a few because luckily the main sources from Special Collections are already digitized and online), so everything for my portion of the UMW site has been digitized! I don’t know if we will include every single digitized image on the history pages, so hopefully we can put additional images into the image galleries that Jack is creating.

Our next milestone is March 20, by which date we have agreed that we will all have the text for the website complete. I have started writing the “Student Life” page for the Fredericksburg State Normal School portion of the website, and after completing that I will write the “Academics” page. Both of these pages are really fun to research, and it is fascinating to see the sort of changes that the Great War wrought upon course offerings at the school (some of which you can read about in this blog post). In going back through some of my sources and doing additional readings, I found some really cool bits of information! The coolest find for me was that several professors and student clubs adopted French and Belgian war orphans! It seems that the professors or student groups only cared for each orphan for a year, so the “adoption” was not permanent–nevertheless, I think it is still amazing that the teachers and students were so involved in caring for victims of the war. In all, the Fredericksburg State Normal School adopted 5 war orphans during the war years!

I also found some excellent quotes while I was reading through yearbooks and academic catalogues and bulletins. I will include them below.

“The world has moved, and to those who stay at home is given an opportunity, too often neglected by parents and ignored in homes, to awaken through the heroes and heroines of a locality the spirit of American democracy.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, October 1917, page 4

“The interests of these valiant and sacrificial nations must be our interests and their needs ours, for they are fighting our battles.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, October 1917, page 11

“It was a beautiful spirit of co-operation between school and community.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, January 1919, page 4

“Teachers, the war is over. . . . From the school-houses of our Commonwealth, the children are calling as never before for your patriotic service.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, January 1919, page 14

Note: The featured image for this post is from the 1918 Fredericksburg State Normal School viewbook.

Logo Thoughts

Just a quick post to share my thoughts about the logos for the project! My favorite logo is the first one in the PDF, and the runner-up is the last one in the PDF. Chelsea did a wonderful job creating all of these logos–they are well-balanced and contain good, basic information about our projects. I really love the deco font that she chose for the logos (the first font–the second one seems a bit too modern). My only complaint, which is very slight, is that the “1914″ on the book spine looks more like “1911,” because of the font face and the size. Perhaps we could move “The Great War 1914-1919″ off the spine, and have it trade places with “Digital Liberal Arts Project” in the logo? I hate to have Chelsea keep running around, switching these logos for us, but I think that it’s really important to get the logo right. What do you guys think? (It’s totally okay to tell me that I’m being too picky–it has been said that I’m a perfectionist and/or overachiever.)

Progress Reports and Contracts

This week Jack posted our group project report, which can be found here. We found some great archival materials at the Library of Virginia that really help fill in a lot of gaps about the Fredericksburg community during WWI! These materials came from the Virginia War History Commission–I would suggest that everyone else look to see if their state/community has anything similar to what we found, because it really is a gold mine of resources!

We have also been working extensively on creating our group contract (which was due February 13 for our Adventures in Digital History class), and so far Dr. McClurken is very pleased with what we have planned for the website and how we have split up our duties for the project. We still have a few details to iron out–for example, what we will do if the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center will not let us digitize some of their archival materials. And, as we make more progress and being to create the website, we may find that there are certain parts of the contract that we need to alter a bit before turning it in for the February 23 COPLAC class deadline.

Overall, within the past week we have made excellent progress and I’m really excited to see what happens next for our group, and for everyone else!

State Normal School and WWI: Outline

After a long 2 hours of brainstorming, Julia, Jack, Candice, and I finally came up with a rough outline of our site that we are pleased with! It was much more difficult than I had anticipated, but I think that was a good thing, because it gave us a lot of time to consider potential problems with our future site. One of the most difficult aspects of the planning was to decide how we wanted to split up the content of the site–originally we thought of splitting it into War, School, and Flu. However, “War” is much too broad and really crosses over into the School category. We went through several other permutations of categories before settling on spatial separations: Fredericksburg and SNS. What we struggled with the most in creating the categories was what to do with the Influenza Epidemic. We wanted to make it a third category, but it doesn’t fit the spatial theme, and in fact crosses the spatial boundaries since the epidemic hit SNS and Fredericksburg. But, for readers interested solely in the flu epidemic, we worried that they wouldn’t want to look on two separate pages for information regarding one topic. However, we ultimately decided that because the experience of the epidemic was different enough in both places, it would be logically acceptable to have it on separate pages.

The following is the rough outline of our website: 

Landing Page/Home Page: Brief introduction to project/site; “About” link for more information; Search bar, etc.

∙    General timeline for WWI and Fredericksburg/SNS

∙    2 large image links: one to Fredericksburg main page and one to SNS main page

Fredericksburg Main Page: Brief overview of WWI homefront experience in the city; Image links to focused categories/resources

∙    Eastburn War Diaries Page: Detail parts of the homefront experience as evidenced by the diaries, in a larger narrative about the city; accounts for international events as well as local issues like prices and material shortages

  • § Bring in other Fredericksburg sources like singular photos and military records to flesh out media and experience, MW Hospital records
  • § Possible timeline

∙    Knox Family Page: Tell part of the homefront narrative through the Knox family’s experience; one son went to Europe and died over there; husband died in flu epidemic

  • § General timeline
  • § Narrative with images from collection
  • § Link to Fredericksburg influenza page

∙    Rowe Family Page: Tell part of the homefront narrative through the experience of Josiah P. Rowe, Jr. (an aviator); mentions meeting “Fredericksburgers” in Europe during war and receiving a care package; can’t wait to come home at the end of the war

  • § General timeline
  • § Narrative with images from collection

∙    Influenza Page: Describe how the 1918 influenza epidemic affected the city of Fredericksburg, not including SNS

  • § Sources: Fredericksburg Daily Star newspaper articles
  • § Link to SNS influenza page

State Normal School Main Page: Brief overview of WWI homefront experience at the State Normal School; Image links to focused categories/resources

∙    Administration Page: Describe administrative issues and changes made during the war; worker shortages, requests for salary increases

  • § Sources: President Russell Papers, other administrative collections

∙    Academics Page: Describe changes and adaptations made to curriculum during the war; ex. Food Conservation class

  • § Sources: Academic catalogs and bulletins

∙    Student Life Page: Discuss student life during the war and how it was/was not affected; especially focus on Clubs

  • § Sources: Battlefield Yearbooks, Academic catalogs and bulletins
  • § Photo galleries with photos from Battlefield Yearbooks and student scrapbooks

∙    Influenza Page: Describe the impact of the 1918 flu epidemic on the school; ex. Number of students ill, closing of school, death of Virginia Goolrick

  • § Sources: President Russell Papers, Accounting records