Caroline Klibanoff

“Storytelling, Archives, and Resilience”: reflecting on the role of community archives in the Boston Marathon bombing

On Monday, April 23 – five years and a week after tragedy struck Boston in the form of the Boston Marathon bombing – faculty, staff, students and members of the community gathered in Alumni Center to share reflections on remembering traumatic events and processing grief through collections and digital archives. The event commemorated five years of collecting objects and memories in “Our Marathon: the Boston Bombing Digital Archive,” a project that originated at Northeastern through efforts in the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Northeastern University Libraries. This year, faculty, staff and graduate students worked to migrate the site’s contents and metadata onto a new digital space under library management, giving it a long-term home where the collection can be preserved. Megan Barney, Lauren Bergnes Sell and David Heilbrun will reflect on their experience completing this migration in future blog posts. The event featured a panel of scholars whose work has been grounded in collecting and preserving so-called “grief archives,” including:
  • Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration and Dean of University Libraries and co-director of the 9/11 Digital Archive
  • Ashley Maynor, award-winning filmmaker behind The Story of the Stuff and currently Digital Scholarship Librarian at New York University
  • Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Our Marathon Principal Investigator and currently Professor of English at Northeastern University
  • Kristi Girdharry, the Our Marathon Oral History Project Manager and currently Assistant Professor of English at Johnson and Wales University
  • Jim McGrath, Co-director of the Our Marathon project and currently post-doctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at Brown University.
[caption id="attachment_274484" align="alignleft" width="300"] Amanda Rust introduces panelists[/caption] Amanda Rust, Assistant Director of the Digital Scholarship Group, introduced the panelists to a packed crowd including university professors, graduate students, library staff, community members and project partners from outside Northeastern. As moderator, Cohen discussed findings and recollections from his experience as co-director of the 9/11 Digital Archive. He noted the emotional intelligence required to do this kind of work, especially in regards to community engagement. Maynor, the filmmaker behind The Story of the Stuff, set the stage by discussing the therapeutic effect of saving and organizing objects across various circumstances like family archives and spontaneous shrines. She noted that the value of such archives can be that they protect objects, put away for safekeeping; we know they are there, but we don’t have to look at them anymore. [caption id="attachment_274482" align="alignleft" width="300"] Ashley Maynor[/caption] Girdharry and McGrath joined Maddock Dillon in a discussion of the process and outcome of the Our Marathon digital archive. Girdharry spoke to her work as Oral History Project Manager, where she discovered the clusters of stories that emerged from a wide range of personal experiences. She pointed out the different angles of narrative involved to tell a more complete story of the events of that day. Maddock Dillon, the project’s principal investigator, also highlighted the collective nature of the archive, drawn from crowdsourced objects and memories, and the collective labor that went into producing and maintaining it. These aspects, she said, along with the desire to enable the community to reclaim the narrative, drove the project’s name, “Our Marathon.” [caption id="attachment_274483" align="alignleft" width="300"] From left: Jim McGrath; Kristi Girdharry; Elizabeth Maddock Dillon; Dan Cohen[/caption] As co-director of the project, McGrath has been highly involved in the archive from conception to its move to a new home in the library. McGrath initiated the collection’s move to a more permanent web space, and it is thanks to his persistence and care that the Our Marathon digital archive will continue to be accessible. During the panel, he pointed out the critical importance of community engagement in doing this kind of work, and how listening to the needs and values of multiple communities can correct our assumptions. He has written more about his long-term experience on the project at the National Council on Public History blog History@Work. After listening to the panel presentation, the audience asked questions about the labor and process of managing such collections and the role of the digital in future work. The Our Marathon: Boston Bombing Digital Archive is viewable at https://marathon.library.northeastern.edu/about/.

Boston DH Week at the DSG and NULab

During the week of March 12-16, Northeastern University will join with other local universities to participate in Boston Digital Humanities Week, bringing an array of programming about and for the digital humanities to the greater Boston area. Check out our upcoming on-campus events hosted by the Digital Scholarship Group and the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks.  

Scott Weingart: “Geometries of Thought: What the history of network visualizations reveals about how we think”

Monday, March 12 | 1–2:30 pm | 346 Curry Student Center More information Join us for a talk by visiting speaker Scott Weingart of Carnegie Mellon University: “Everything is connected”, a generation of magazine covers shouted, proclaiming the dawn of an age of cybernetics, of information, of big data. The history of that connectivity reflects deep-seated philosophical positions which influence what and how we think. Trees and networks offer particularly compelling models through which to organize the world, and looking at their illustrations over the last thousand years provides a unique purchase into Western Europe’s changing philosophical landscape. Through these illustrations, we can trace everything from the changing role of God, to the underpinning of early gravitational theories, to the values implicit in force-directed network layouts. This talk is free and open to the public, but guests external to Northeastern University should RSVP to Sarah Connell in advance at sa.connell@northeastern.edu.  

Intro to GIS Workshop

Wednesday, March 14 | 9:00 am - 12:00 pm | Snell Library 422 RSVP required as space is limited Learn the basics of GIS in this workshop led by Bahare Sanaie-Movahed, Geographic Information Systems Specialist. Attendees will gain an understanding of GIS tools and how to use them, and by the end of the session will have familiarity and basic fluency with ArcGIS.  

Introduction to D3.js, with LEGOs

Wednesday, March 14 | 9:00 am - 12:00 pm | Snell Library Colab D RSVP required as space is limited This small workshop will give participants a hands-on introduction to creating basic charts using D3.js, a popular JavaScript library for creating static and interactive data visualizations on the web. Participants are required to bring their own laptop, but no special software is needed. A basic understanding of JavaScript syntax as well as HTML and CSS is extremely helpful, but participants need not be experts. RSVP required as space is extremely limited.  

DH Open Office Hours: Digital Pedagogy Research, Work-In-Progress

Wednesday, March 14 | 12–1 pm | Snell Library Digital Scholarship Commons RSVP DH Open Office Hours are an informal weekly gathering of faculty, students, staff and others interested in coming together to discuss methods, practices and projects in the digital humanities. At this session, Cara Messina, English Department doctoral student and First Year Writing instructor, will present a work-in-progress. Messina is currently collecting data for a digital pedagogy research project in her First Year Writing course on the use of XML to foster transformative reading practices. This presentation will look at some of the preliminary data collected.  

NULab Spring Conference: "Fake News/Real Knowledge: Histories, Structures, Futures" with keynote by Yochai Benkler

Friday, March 16 | 9:30am–5 pm | Raytheon Amphitheater More information On March 16, 2018, the NULab will be hosting its second annual conference, showcasing the work of faculty, fellows, alumni, and research collaborators. Yochai Benkler, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, will deliver a keynote speech, “The Architecture of Disinformation in the American Public Sphere.” This event is free and lunch will be provided but registration is required. Please RSVP!

Celebrating Frederick Douglass’ Birthday With a Transcribe-a-Thon

On February 14, the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks, the Women Writers Project, the Digital Scholarship Group and Snell Library’s Open Access programming teamed up for a special Valentine’s Day celebration—a transcribe-a-thon and birthday party for Frederick Douglass. Faculty, staff and students from various disciplines across Northeastern gathered in the Digital Media Commons to help transcribe documents from the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers. Fueled by pizza, snacks and a birthday cake with Douglass’ photo on it, the transcribers assisted each other with difficult-to-read script and unknown abbreviations. The transcribe-a-thon was part of a national celebration for Douglass’ birthday, organized by the Colored Conventions Project in association with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Northeastern participated in the inaugural transcribe-a-thon last year as one of nine institutions hosting local events — this year, the Northeastern group joined 64 other campuses and organizations for the event. We live-streamed the program from the Colored Conventions Project, connecting with others across the nation working on transcribing these important documents. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate and help transcribe. Hope to see you for next year’s celebration!  

An Update on Our Wikipedia Visiting Scholar

In March, we welcomed Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight as our first Wikipedia Visiting Scholar, working to improve the presence of Wikipedia articles on women and writing before 1900. Her work is supported by scholars in the Women Writers Project and Northeastern reference librarians. Rosie will be with us, working remotely, through December of this year and has already made remarkable progress on bolstering the canon of women writers and their works on Wikipedia. She has created new pages for over 86 women and/or works by women, and has improved many others with additional information, context and citations. Through Rosie’s work, you can now learn about Birdie Blye, a descendant of John Hancock who was a child prodigy at the piano and gave concert tours in Europe at just 11 years old, before writing articles about her travels and music criticism. You can get to know Lilian Bell, a novelist who made waves with her first fiction book, The Love Affairs of an Old Maid. Bell’s mother was such a careful editor, and tough critic, that Bell found no reason to dread her books being reviewed: “What have I to fear from the public?” she asked. “Mamma has read it.”   [caption id="attachment_274098" align="alignright" width="150"] Birdie Blye[/caption] You can also learn about Mittie Frances Clarke Point, a turn-of-the-century novelist who wrote 80 dime store novels under the pseudonym Mrs. Alex McVeigh Miller; Emily Thornton Charles, a journalist who founded the Washington, D.C. newspaper National Veteran; and Mary Catherine Chase, a 19th-century Catholic nun who wrote essays and literature under pen names. You can keep up with Rosie’s work on her Wikipedia page. We look forward to seeing more of Rosie’s work throughout her time with us this year.