Building Dialogic Collections: An Approach to Doing Digital Public History

Thursday, January 7, 2016: 4:30 PM
Salon C (Hilton Atlanta)
Sharon M. Leon, George Mason University
Print archives and manuscript collections have long formed the building blocks of historical scholarship. The introduction of digital technologies into the work flow and collections development processes of libraries, museums, and archives have significantly changed the dynamics of the creation, presentation, and preservation of those materials. Now, we are in a position to embrace a much more dialogic approach to collection creation, description, and access, drawing on interested publics to help shape the range of materials we save and to deepen the description of those materials through first-hand reflections on their creation. The result can be the creation of digital public history collections that serve the needs of scholars and the communities whose history they represent. All of this work requires a careful approach to project planning and relationship building, so that public stakeholders and historians build a productive dialogue about the past and its meaning. This presentation will explore a number of projects that showcase the potential and the pitfalls of taking a dialogic approach to creating and working with digital public history collections.