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Presented with Hillary AH Richardson (Humanities Librarian, Mississippi State University) in the ACRL-DHIG webinar, "Engaging the Digital Humanities: Collaborating throughout the Research Lifecycle," 23 March 2016. http://www.ala.org/acrl/researchlifecycle
abstract: How does a group of graduate and undergraduate students, history faculty, and research librarians, who are not beholden to assignment deadlines, grades, or even degree requirements, form a project team for civil rights digital scholarship? Miriam Posner, esteemed digital humanist and blog writer, has written, “For me, community happens when people are genuinely invested in seeing each other succeed. This doesn’t happen by being nice to each other--although there’s nothing wrong with that, per se--but by recognizing and rewarding other people’s work” (2014, “Here and There,” miriamposner.com/blog/here-and-there-creating-dh-community/). This sentiment, combined with a collective passion for the subject matter, served as the glue that held together the team responsible for “‘A Shaky Truce’: Starkville Civil Rights Struggles, 1960-1980” (starkvillecivilrights.msstate.edu). This project, a digital history website, features oral history interviews from locals who share stories of desegregation and integration in Starkville, MS during the late 60s and early 70s. To contextualize these stories, the project used archives in the Mississippi State University (MSU) Libraries and donated personal collections to provide tools for researchers and teachers. The project team has spent just under 2 years (and counting) developing a site that bridges town-and-gown, and tells a unique story unlike the narrative of Civil Rights History that is normally taught in Mississippi or Civil Rights history classes.
In this presentation, we plan to address a) the different stages of our project, b) DH skills needed, and c) collaboration within the library and externally in order to build “A Shaky Truce.” We will discuss how librarians were able to get buy-in from busy undergraduates, teaching and dissertating graduate students, and over-worked faculty (on sabbatical!) who had no previous experience with DH projects. Though not committed in a traditional sense (e.g. enrolled in a course with this as a final project, doing this research for a thesis, etc.), we were able to corral 11 people to conduct original research, try out various digital tools, and experiment with website design, effectively serving as project managers for this hodgepodge group of constituents. In addition to highlighting the digital tools for the site (e.g. WordPress, OHMS, TimelineJS), we will also discuss how we leveraged institutional and community resources to grow our project community beyond our university walls.