Updated to include ideas on new direction for project…
This is the third blog post in the Spring 2020 course sequence. This posting has two main sections. The first examines how I structured my final project, the decision that went into choosing my sources, and how I chose to present the chosen information. This first section, in many ways, offer me the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind why my final project has evolved into the project it is today. The second section seeks to review and examine my work. Simply, using project evaluation manuals and resources from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, I will endeavor to evaluate my project objectively.
Part I: Rationale for Site Creation
The primary objective of the online exhibit is to inform general viewership of minorities in the US Census, while challenging preconceived notions of federal documents and biases. In essence, this section will discuss the justifications for inclusion and exclusion of sources and overall site structure, and how this structure reaffirmed the general objective.
There are two types of sources that aid and inform the visitor:
- The first section of sources are primary. In narrowing down my research, I have pulled out three separate decades and/or chucks of census history to examine. In many ways, creating a digital exhibit of the entire US Census history would be too large and contain too many exhibits/objects. Therefore, to manage this size, I am primarily looking at 1790, 1830, and 1930 census records. These three decades are designed to be case studies to provide a glimpse into minority enumeration. The logic behind these three decades is that they are spaced out by about 100 years. I started with 1790 and the first census, because I am trying to also provide a general history of the census and starting in 1790 lays the foundation for further discussion. Moreover, within each decade, the visitor examines the census records by looking at pictures and scanned census forms.
- Using chronology to structure my first source section offers the visitor the opportunity to better see document evolution.
- The second section of sources looks at secondary documents and offer statistical evidence for further discussion. These are primarily data charts compiled from the Pew Research Center. These documents offer visitors with research resources that shows statistical data for changing census forms. The primary purpose of this section was to offer students and researchers opportunities to explore external sources for usage in lesson plans and research projects.
- I decided to add this section because I want the visitor to use the research from the online exhibit. In many ways, I want this to be an active learning experience, using the knowledge learned from the exhibit an applying it to active research. Angela Cotler writes: “To find out whether people understand your content, have them read it and apply their new knowledge” (Angela Colter) Simply, Cotler is testifying as to the primary purpose of this second section, the usage of materials for research. The test of a strong online or in-person exhibit, according to Cotler, is when the visitor can use knowledge gained outside of the exhibit setting.
Part II: Site Evaluation
This second section seeks to evaluate my exhibition by using scholarly review criteria. These elements of review range from goal setting/outcomes, media campaigns, audience interaction, and review of data for user experience. Therefore, this evaluation will be subdivided into two main parts. The first is titled “Goals Setting”. This section looks at the general goals of the online exhibit. What is the main goal for the exhibit? Is that goal clear? Do audience members know of this goal, and can they identity the goal? The second section also looks at if the exhibit is designed for short to long-term goals and outcomes. The section section is titled “Audience”. This section looks more specifically at user experiences (UX), and evaluates the user experience of the exhibit.
- General Goal:
- There are two main goals for this project. The first relates to general history the US Census, and how the census was formed. This first goal is to set a foundation to for the audience to build upon. The second, and most important goal, is to articulate an argument regarding census enumeration and handling of minorities. This second section argue that the US Census forms had an evolutionary past, showing how, over the decades, that the Census forms were changed and manipulated to included, or perhaps, excluded minorities in enumeration.
- Is the goal clear:
- I believe that the general goal of the project is clear, minorities in the US Census; however, the engagement has not been clear, and is still being tested. I have decided that this general argument that minorities were marginal in census enumeration can be a stronger argument if my research was ground geographically. Simply, the overall theme and research remains clear, but I needed to narrow down my work by focusing on census enumeration in St. Louis. Positioning my research more securely into a geographical position allows me to narrow down my workload and exhibit structure.
- Short-Term Goals for Audience
- The discussion of both short-term and long-term goals for audience interaction will be a common theme throughout this section section. The first priority of the project is to establish viewership. In creased numbers can only be build by an increase in media campaigning. This being said, an increase in site traffic means an increase in authority discussion. Simply, public historians often discuss this idea of shared authority, and how audience interaction is a form of authority the audience has over the exhibit. “That focus on audience and their experience of digital history often leads to a recognition of the shared authority,” according to a Bracket post on public history. With an increase media presence, and an increase in audience understanding of their part in public history, we can move on to larger audience interaction. In many ways, “attendance does not describe how visitors experienced the exhibition” (Hallie Preskill)
- Long-Term Goals for Audience
- This section of long-term audience relates to audience interaction. The long-term audience goal is to incorporate some form of a discussion board, or some kind of mapping project in which people can map where they have been enumerated or have some story relating to minority enumeration. Bracket concludes with by saying “publicly engaged humanities work is necessarily part of a larger conversation that is as much a process as it is a product.”(Bracket) In many ways, visitors share their experiences and through that sharing of experience the visitors impart authority over the project. Specifically with a project like this, it is important to have audience interaction in order to create a better, more full picture of minority history. Weil argued that the ultimate goal of a museum is to interact with the public: “It is not the collection the museum houses, but what it does with its collection that matters.”
Sources used to form this discussion on site evaluation: