Blogging Scottish History

Blogging Scottish History

Over the past few weeks I have been writing about Scottish history, in particular the lives and records of Scottish emigrants to Canada and the United States and the families they left behind in Scotland’s central belt. You can find an introduction to the Gilchrist and Shearer families here. With summer now firmly upon us, I thought I would share a few links to some online blogs and social media accounts that share their perspectives of Scottish history online.

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Edinburgh Castle — Photo credit: P. Dumas

This list is an introduction to some of the research being published and the organisations and researchers who are active on social media. It’s by no means exhaustive, ranked, or critically reviewed, but rather a fun collection of blogs to check out this summer. You’ll see that I’ve attempted to seek out a range of individual, group, and institution blogs for the list. Continue reading

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Museum Websites and Enhanced Public Engagement

Over the past few months I’ve been looking at ways in which social media is being employed in new ways to share information on historical events, public history, and the digitisation of historical resources. This has included using a combination of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and traditional websites.

As part of my work contributing to H-Net Slavery’s Twitter account this month, last week I came across the website for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. This striking website inspired me to want to highlight some of the work that museums are doing online that raise awareness, not only of their own institutions, but of their holdings, exhibits, and important contemporary issues. These sites bring visitors into the museum through their browsers where ever they are in the world. As such, here are some great examples of modern, accessible, and engaging websites from museums that focus on the broad subject areas of Isles Abroad. Enjoy!

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Photo credit: Fuzheado via Wikimedia Commons.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Explore the building, explore the collections, and immediately be confronted with the goals and ideals of this museum “100 Years in the making”, all online. The NMAAHC opens on September 24, 2016. I hope to be able to find an opportunity to make it to Washington, D.C., to make my way through its displays and exhibits, but until then, this beautiful, inviting website will make do quite well.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Find out about current and upcoming exhibitions, discover online resources for teachers to use in schools, and learn about the research and curation process that goes into a museum on such an important but “difficult” topic. There’s even information and advice on how to become a defender of human rights. Manitoba is one of the few Canadian provinces that I haven’t visited yet, but it’d be great to get to Winnipeg sometime soon!

Museum of London Docklands

Housed in a formed sugar warehouse along the side of the West India docks in the early 19th century, the Museum of London Docklands brings visitors to their website directly into their exhibitions with slideshows, a timeline outlining their permanent exhibitions, and activities for families to do at home. The London, Sugar, and Slavery 1600-present permanent gallery acknowledges the history of the museum building and the vital role sugar and slavery played in London’s development.

These are just a few examples of modern engaging museum websites. We’d love to hear about your favourites, so be sure to share a link or two in the comments below!

Slavery, H-Net, & Keeping Up with Social Media

H-Slavery has just joined Twitter! For those of you new to H-Net, H-Net, Humanities and Social Sciences Online, is a volunteer organisation of historians and individuals interested in history who organise, monitor, contribute to, and follow one or more forums on specific fields or topics related to history that are attached to a central site. Personally, I follow H-Slavery (and have off and on since I first found out about it in 2005) and H-Albion and receive regular digests of their forum posts in my email inbox.

H-Net provides information in their forums on new books, job postings, CFPs (calls for papers for conferences), new journal issues, and lots more. It is also a space for individuals to ask for advice, post questions, and get answers from some experts in their field. I highly recommend checking them and requesting to join one or more that interest you. It’s a great way to stay up to date on your field, get some new ideas or leads, and maybe even share some advice with fellow followers.

Like I was saying, a few followers of H-Slavery (including myself) are now running this new Twitter account, @H_Slavery_HNet. By joining Twitter, H-Slavery is joining the trend of organisations and groups to create, gather, and share additional content while building connections with others of similar interests. Social media facilitates and encourages sharing, creating, “liking”, and curating personalised content online in one or more spaces, including (but certainly not limited to) Twitter, Facebook, blog providers such as WordPress (which we use here at Isles Abroad), and YouTube. You’ll typically see symbols of these applications in the corner of traditional, static websites that will lead you to their social media accounts and, hopefully, their most up-to-date content and information.

Through a Twitter account, H-Slavery hopes to share resources, participate in on-going discussions, and track what’s happening in the field of history as it happens. This venture has me thinking about various branches of social media that are creating, sharing, and commenting on content related to slavery history. Here’s just a few accounts in a range of formats you might want to check out to stay up-to-date on the subjects of historical (and in some cases modern) slavery study:

Blogs

The HAS Blog — Historians Against Slavery

National Museums Liverpool Blog — Items tagged “International Slavery Museum”

Twitter Accounts

@Slavery Justice — Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

@WISE_HullWilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation

Facebook Pages

Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition

The Slave Dwelling Project

Tweeting about Slavery: How the Open University Made Me Re-think Twitter

I recently began taking an online course in Technology-Enhanced Learning from the Open University. I’m four weeks in and finding it fascinating. The course is delivered online to students all around the world. My tutorial group of 12 has students based in the UK, Vietnam, Australia, and Tasmania, and yet we are able to see one another, meet up for informal chats online, and participate in formal, tutor-run, “synchronous” tutorials via OU Live and Blackboard Collaborate.

One of the best parts of the course, in my opinion, is that it constantly asks us as students to evaluate the means by which they are teaching and we are learning (when it’s not busy asking us to define and debate via the online forums what ‘learning’ is). Over the 10-15 hours of study and activities each week, we are provided with information in a variety of formats and are asked to think about not only the content but the means by which the content has been presented. Videos, podcasts, transcripts of conference papers, articles from peer reviewed journals, chapters from academic monographs and essay collections… we’ve already encountered course material from all of these formats.

In the course we aren’t just exposed to a wide range of formats of digitised information, but we are asked to think about the technology we use (both high tech and low tech), why we use it, what we like and dislike about it, and what could work better for us. We’re connecting with one another on Twitter, creating online profiles, blogging, gathering resources together on a group wiki, meeting up virtually face-to-face online, and being challenged to learn about new forms of technology that can contribute to learning, teaching, and course creation.

This has also got me thinking about how I might use familiar technology in new ways to create, develop, and organise content and research. For example, for a number of years I relied almost solely upon irregular notifications of new information posted to the H-Slavery forum sent directly to my email to find out what was happening in the world of slavery history research. But then I began making an effort to become more active on Twitter (BTW You can find me on Twitter @HistoryByPaula ). By following slavery researchers and anti-slavery projects from around the world with only a click of the Follow button, I am finding new leads for resources, the latest relevant news stories, upcoming conferences, and links to Facebook pages, blog posts, and calls for papers and publications. It’s fairly safe to say that I would not be aware of most of this activity without Twitter.

For me, Twitter has gone from a website where people write little notes about themselves to a useful tool that connects me with what is going on in my field of research right now. And I don’t know if I would have recognised it as a tool had it not been for H800.