This spring in HIS/POS305G The Cold War, Prof. Chris Gehrz gave his students the option of completing their research project through the production of digital history sites. While most of their peers opted for the more traditional 10-12 page research paper, seven students agreed to take a shot at telling digital histories of the Cold War, enriching narrative text with images, video clips, documents, and other media. Follow the links below to read their projects and share your feedback:
- Kelsey Anderson and Micayla Moore, “Tracing Hollywood’s Cold War: How films shaped American hearts and minds throughout the Cold War“
- Kendra Gross and Grace Wiegand, “Blacklisted! The Story of the Hollywood Ten“
- Grace Hanson and Jacob Manning, “Christianity in the Cultural Revolution: An Introduction to the ‘black hole’ of Chinese Christian History“
- Brandon Sebey, “Able Archer 83 Crisis: The Cold War Heating Up“
I asked students how they would compare the experience of producing a digital history project to that of writing a more traditional research paper. Here’s what Micayla wrote:
I would say producing a digital history site is more (or perhaps just different) work than writing a traditional research paper. With digital history, not only do you have to do all the research, but you also have to use technology to incorporate it in a visually appealing and cohesive way. Even the way you research for digital history is different. For a more traditional paper, primary sources are important, but secondary sources often become central. In contrast, digital history research is predominantly focused on finding and incorporating a variety of primary sources with secondary sources being supplementary. The most exciting part about it for me was putting the primary sources together using the Scalar platform. By integrating the primary sources with technology, I saw the history come to life. The most challenging part was learning how to format the information in a visually appealing way. It took hours of reading user’s manuals, tweaking, deleting, redoing, and improvising in order to arrange the information cohesively.