The Launch of the Digital Exhibit, and Some Thank Yous

Today, Historic St. Mary’s City sent out the press release regarding the launch of the digital exhibit that I’ve been working on all summer…I then promptly sent emails, tweets, facebook posts, and telegrams to every person who I’ve ever interacted with. The website is officially live, and has been a labor of love for the past five months. In all, I’ve learned a lot from the process, both about building exhibits online, but also about my dissertation itself. I’ll write more about this topic at a later date.

The website is about the transition from slavery to freedom on a 19th-century Southern Maryland plantation. I’ve done my best to make it completely social: visitors can comment on every single page, interact with us on twitter, and follow a blog that discusses the still ongoing research and preservation efforts regarding the 19th century. I have a lot of plans for this blog: we’ll be chronicling the rehabilitation of the still standing duplex quarter, I’d like to do guest posts, I’ll highlight my research, and I’d also like to write some companion feature pieces that will compliment the exhibit on topics relating to African American history in Southern Maryland. I’m sure that other opportunities will present itself as things move along and time passes.

But for now, it’s important for me to use this opportunity to do two things: first, encourage you to visit the exhibit, subscribe to the blog, and follow us on Twitter. You can get updates on Facebook, too, by liking the Historic St. Mary’s City Page, and then telling all your friends to do the same thing. Second, I have a lot of people to thank:

First, our financial supporters: the digital project would not have been possible without the support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ford Foundation, and the SRI Foundation. I’d like to personall thank the research staff at Historic St. Mary’s, including Dr. Henry Miller, Dr. Tim Riordan, Ruth Mitchell, Silas Hurry, and Don Winter. I’ve known these folks for years, and I thoroughly appreciated their help in the whole process. I’d also like to thank Nancy Sheffler, who runs the IT at Historic St. Mary’s City, and was willing to put up with some frantic emails from me during this process. I’d like to thank my committee for allowing me to pursue my somewhat unconventional course into digital public archaeology. I’d also like to thank Dr. Lynne Goldstein for her never-ending support of my ideas, and Dr. Ethan Watrall for widening my view as it relates to digital cultural heritage. I’d like to thank the folks at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Digital History Center, particularly Lisa Fischer, for many conversations about digital cultural heritage and museums and the web, as well as Carol McDavid for her support in discussing the ins-and-outs of archaeology on the web. I’d like to thank Tiffany Beker¬†for helping me with some code, and Nicole Moore for her extensive notes on the project. Of course, I’d like to thank my parents and my wife, Ashleigh, for their continuing support. I’d also like to thank Dr. Regina Faden, the director of Historic St. Mary’s City, for giving me the opportunity and finding the support to run with this idea that has been percolating for a few years. I couldn’t have asked for more support and encouragement in getting this thing done, and for the future plans at the site.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the community members, particularly Meredeth Wilson and Kelsey Bush, who commented on the website and for working with us on this project, and for the future collaborations that we will, hopefully, achieve together. In particular, special thanks to Emma Hall, who lived in the duplex quarter for almost thirty years: her words inspired the title and theme of the exhibit, and I hope that we will continue to do her proud.