This semester, myself and six others were tasked with the project of creating a website and interactive map for the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. In addition to these tasks, we were to digitize a 500 page register in order to link the data from the website to the map. Throughout this project we were working closely with Luisa Dispenzirie from the National Parks Service, the ones who would ultimately be incorporating this project into their parks.
Before beginning on the project itself, we had to come up with a contract that was agreed upon amongst all members of our team and ultimately approved by Professor McClurken. Of course, with seven people, agreeing on what should and shouldn’t be included in the project could be rather tricky. Initially, we were under the impression that we would have to digitize the entire register and upload each of the 15,000 names as individual files. Luckily, we got that straightened out and our workload dramatically shifted from 15,000 files to 500.
In our original draft of our contract, we came up with a timeline that we thought would be achievable given our time constraints. Here we gave samples of the naming conventions that we had wanted to use, as well as a list of tasks and who would complete them. As we got further into our project, we found that digitizing the register took far less time than we expected it too. Which was fortune in that he had to entirely reframe naming conventions that we had originally established, seeing as the index and register itself didn’t line up with the spreadsheet that we were basing our information off of. After reworking some of our plans we set out create our map using Google My Maps, an Omeka site, and an extremely extensive spreadsheet so that we could batch upload our data. Our final contract did not differ drastically from our original, but rather included new timelines and a restructuring of what the project itself would entail.
This project was rather daunting in the amount of work that it required from the seven of us, and we managed to get just about everything that we hoped to accomplish completed within the fourteen week time frame that we were given. One of the main struggles of working with a group this size, is communication, delegation of tasks and deciding whether or not there would a specific person who was “in- charge”. We used Slack as our primary mode of communication amongst the group and would utilize the direct messaging portion when we needed to team up on a task which proved to be more helpful than a group text or a facebook message would have been.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the work that our group has created. Throughout the process, I have learned how to digitize pages from historical documents, utilize Omeka and effectively problem solve as well as work through a time consuming project so that our group could finish in a timely manner. All things considered, I believe our group was very effective in creating a final project that we are all proud of.