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Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative

Hosted and administered by the Department of Anthropology in partnership with MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University, The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative is a platform for interdisciplinary scholarly collaboration in the domain of digital cultural heritage. In addition, the initiative strives to equip students with the methodological skills necessary to creatively apply information, communication, and computing technology to cultural heritage materials, questions, and challenges. 

learn more about the CHI Initiative »

from the Cultural Heritage Informatics blog:

The Challenges of the Digital in Digital History

February 19, 2019 | dglovsky

By any normal standard, I am a relatively tech-savvy person. When it comes to programming, my experience is…minimal. My HTML skills are relatively new and underdeveloped, although growing which each attempt to do something new. My project for CHI focuses on oral histories mapping the history of migration across borders in West Africa, a topic I have spent too many years thinking about. My comfort level was this topic is matched with my lack of comfort of making this project digital.

I bring this up because I am also currently teaching 19 MSU seniors to do digital work. With a great deal of help with LEADR, my students are using StoryMaps to tell digital stories about border regions across the world. Ranging from the Colombia-Venezuela border to Kashmir and back home to the border between Detroit and Windsor, they are using the border analysis skills of our class to do public storytelling digitally.

My class is not a digital humanities class, but we regularly use digital projects/scholarship in discussions of borders around the world. There are few topics as central to public discussions as borders and migration, the topic of my class. I am easing my students into digital tools to demonstrate their importance as storytelling tools, but also to demonstrate to my students the importance of public scholarship.

There is a tension in digital scholarship between free, open-source software and proprietary programs like StoryMaps. Rather than dig into these debates, I want to talk about the reasons I am using StoryMaps. Oftentimes open-source software requires a level of technical expertise difficult to develop in a semester, especially when the course does not focus specifically on the digital.

I hope that this project will serve as a first step into the digital scholarly world for my students, and maybe some of them will even continue to use them going forward. My own extension into the digital has changed my academic focus, and I hope for at least a few of my students, this will be the case as well.

Current and Recent CHI Projects

Shakespeare’s Shadows

In the late 1500’s-early 1600’s, England experienced an explosion of plays written, performed, and attended. Concurrently, England witnessed an influx in the publication of artistic manuals.

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Wheelwomen at Work

Wheelwomen at Work: Mapping Women's Involvement in the Nineteenth-Century Bicycle Industry is a digital heritage project which documents the diverse ways American women engaged in the bicycle industry as inventors, factory workers, saleswomen and mechanics from 1889 to 1900. Read More

The Saharan World at a Glance (SWAG)

The Saharan World at a Glance (SWAG) is a mobile-first digital text book. The site was designed specifically with incoming undergraduate students in mind. The site’s content is framed around the Saharan World: the North African coast, the Sahara, and the Sahel.

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Mortuary Mapping

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Historic Cemetery was re-discovered in 2012 due to construction related to expansion and seismic retrofitting at the west end of the hospital property.

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