For my final blog post, I have chosen to edit and revise my museum label blog. This means I will be selecting a completely new artifact and writing a new label for it, as well as explaining why I selected this artifact and also explaining some challenges of presenting history to the public.
My new artifact that I’ll be using is a gourd head banjo:
Museum Label: This gourd head banjo was crafted from gourd, wood, and metal by an unknown creator. It was crafted around the year 1860 and is currently owned by the Old Slave Art Museum. This banjo illustrates an early style of banjo that was played by African Americans who used local resources to create instruments. Instruments like this were commonly the only artifacts that African Americans were able to possess as sources of entertainment, and were used to display their culture and heritage. (80 words)
One of the main reasons that I decided to use this banjo as my artifact for this project is because I understand it’s importance and significance. Before taking this course, I already had some experience learning about enslaved individuals and how they used handmade musical instruments. This topic was very inspiring to me because these handmade instruments gave enslaved peoples the ability to represent and cherish their culture. With these instruments, they were able to play songs and melodies that demonstrate who they are and what they stand for. Another interesting and somewhat saddening concept regarding this artifact is that handmade musical instruments were commonly the only objects that enslaved individuals were able to have as forms of entertainment. Slave owners would strictly monitor enslaved peoples to make sure they didn’t have any objects that they weren’t supposed to have, and musical instruments were practically the only objects they were allowed to possess.
One common challenge of presenting history to the public is that you only have a short period of time to attract an audience and gain their attention, which is why it is important to keep museum labels under 80 words. Another main challenge of presenting history for the public is that you have to be cautious about how the public will perceive your message. While it is important to include specific details regarding events in history, it is also important to realize that some details might now be what people want to hear. The history of our country and even our world is very commonly sugar coated in an attempt to spare people’s feelings and thoughts of remorse, which I think is extremely unfortunate. There were numerous horrific events that occurred throughout our history, and these are the most important events to learn about in my eyes. I say this because learning about those events and understanding how and why they happened will help mankind prevent history from repeating itself.
I elected to redo the museum label blog because writing the label was my favorite activity that we did this semester. While it was a very fun activity, it was also very challenging to include all the important information about my artifact while staying under the word limit of an average label. The process of selecting an artifact ended up being an extensive process because I wanted to find an artifact that had lots of value and meaning. Not only was I searching for an artifact with lots of meaning, but also for an artifact that directly relates to African American culture during the antebellum period. The banjo was the perfect artifact to use because it was used by African Americans to display their culture and heritage, which demonstrated lots of value and meaning to them.
Overall, I would say that my experience of “doing digital history” was an exciting, fun, and challenging experience that will surely be useful in the future. The skills I learned and obtained will not only be useful for education and employment purposes, but also in my everyday life. I found Voyant in particular to be an extremely useful text analysis tool that could come in handy in many different situations. Voyant is such a helpful tool because it has the ability to locate the most important information, words, and phrases located in any text. I can definitely see myself using Voyant in the near future to help analyze texts and find the most important content. Going into the week five blog of making podcasts, I was very nervous because Audacity seemed like a complex program that was hard to navigate. After completing my podcast using Audacity, I am now confident in my abilities to use the tool and believe it could definitely be useful in my future. My friends and I have always talked about starting a podcast, so I could potentially use Audacity to record them.
Writing the comparative website review for two different websites was another interesting concept that definitely left me with some important takeaways. One of the most important takeaways from this activity was learning what a good website should look like. I gained a significantly deeper understanding of how a website needs to not only be appealing to the eye, but also easy to navigate and understand. Creating research questions is another aspect of this course that I feel will be very useful in the coming future. Prior to taking this course, I had minimal experience coming up with research questions and answering them. I feel like this course definitely enhanced my skills of creating feasible, genuine research questions that can be answered through thorough research.
My favorite weeks of this course were creating the museum label, using StoryMap, and using Audacity to create podcasts. Going into the course, I was not looking forward to creating a podcast and was very stressed out about blog five in particular. As week five began and we started working with Audacity, I began to feel less nervous and even a little excited to use the platform. My least favorite week of the course was week ten when we worked with Flourish. Flourish seemed like a very interesting and useful tool, however I had severe technical difficulties while attempting to complete blog nine.
Lastly, I’d like to take this time to thank Professor Andrella for such a fantastic semester. Throughout the semester she was extremely accommodating and replied promptly to any questions or concerns of mine. She also did an excellent job of keeping the class engaged in discussions and technical activities. I’d also like to thank the rest of the class for contributing to such insightful and thoughtful discussions throughout the semester!