Digital Review of Lynching in America

Lynching in America. https://lynchinginamerica.eji.org/about Created and maintained by The Equal Justice Initiative with support from Google. Reviewed January 26 -January 27, 2020.

The Lynching in America project is an interactive site targeting an audience of educators and all Americans created by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). It is important to note that EJI is a nonprofit organization working to fight racial injustice while also providing legal representation to those who are unjustly incarcerated. The Lynching in America project’s goal is to educate and relay information regarding the racial terrorism that African Americans endured in the years between the Civil War and World War II. The project also connects the lynching of the past with more contemporary racial injustice. The project hopes that by teaching this history the past will not be forgotten and it will not be repeated. In the words of Bryan Stevenson, EJI’s founder, “we cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it.”

The project consists of six major sections and visitors can easily navigate directly to any of the six after a short introductory message on the home screen. The top three sections contain personal stories and interactive maps while the bottom three contain lesson plans and teaching tools for educator along with information about EJI as an organization.

A couple of the personal stories connect living family members with a family member that was lynched in the past. The videos highlight how senseless and brutal the attacks on African Americans were and how the violence affected those who knew them. Learning that no punishment came to those committing the acts is even more heartbreaking to witness. There is also a video about Anthony Hilton, a man who served thirty years in jail for a crime he did not commit. The officers make it clear that his incarceration is based on his racial identity. The videos are shot well and invoke the range of emotions intended, whether that is sadness, anger or frustration that such systemic racism exists in the modern era. By including Mr. Hilton’s story, the site purposes to show “lynching” can take different forms.

The interactive map section is visually appealing and simple to navigate. Counties that lynching occurred are highlighted in different hues of red. By clicking on a highlighted county, the visitor is shown how many people were lynched in that county. The map does not tell you anything about the victims lynched in that county unlike Monroe Work Today (http://www.monroeworktoday.org/explore/) which gives details about the victims and their alleged “crime”. Since databases exists with such data, EJI omitting that information is either intentional or editors did not research adequately but since there are over 300 footnotes that does not seem to be the case.

The inclusion of lesson plans for educators is a nice touch but as previously mentioned, the project only presents evidence and stories regarding the injustice of African Americans. Doing so alienates the Mexican American and other ethnicities that were victims of racial violence and systemic oppression. For a project called Lynching in America, the American experience the site describes is not inclusive of all marginalized groups. Martin Luther King reminds us:

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Not sure if EJI ever plans to expand this project but it would be welcome. It is a well-done project. The various video narratives are deeply moving, and the camerawork is exceptional. The information provided on the Great Migration of African American from the South to the North is well written. I am certain that EJI advocates for all people and it would be great if the Lynching in America project reflected that ideology more clearly.

Harold D. Johnson

St. Mary’s University

San Antonio, TX

Exploring the Chicago Latino ArTchive

Chicago Latino ArTchive: A Century of Chicago Latino Art https://iuplr.org/chicago-artchive/artchive/index/chicagolatinoartchive.html Organized by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) headquartered at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Reviewed January 27, 2020.

Growing up in Chicago, I may have taken for granted the easy access I had to history, art, and culture. The city is rich in heritage and there are various organizations that help preserve a specific cultural group’s identity and impact upon the city. The National Museum of Mexican Art, for example, is a cornerstone of the Pilsen neighborhood. In my own backyard, I had the privilege of having access to an institution that helps celebrate Chicago’s Latinx community. The amount of work Latinxs have created is impressive. The museum a well curated body of work, but it isn’t representative of all the work Chicagoans have contributed to the city’s culture. The Chicago Latino ArTchive, a repository for Chicago based Latinx works of art, was created by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) to provide people with easy access to works of art, specific artists, or different time periods of Chicago Latinx art. Those who haven’t had the privilege of visiting the Nation Museum of Mexican Art, or those who want to explore Chicago Latinx art more fully, can explore the repository to find great works of art. Many prominent artists who were either born in Chicago or settled there, are featured in the repository. One can explore an artist’s portfolio, a specific time in the city’s history, and other exploratory options. The repository is a great start for further exploration, but remains limited in what one can achieve with the information provided.

The Chicago Latino ArTchive provides a home page explaining the scope of the project. First uploaded in the fall of 2016, the ArTchive was created as a celebration of all the contributions Latinxs have had in Chicago over the last century. The repository provides artist portfolios, the artist’s statement (if they provided one), biographical information, and links to artists’ personal sites. After reading the brief introductory paragraph, a list of sponsors and/or stakeholders is provided. The National Museum of Mexican Art, as well as the local Telemundo affiliate, are sponsors. After all the information the home page provides is read, one can enter the ArTchive.

After entering the ArTchive, a list of the artists included in the repository is provided. The Artists’ information is provided via four different columns: Name, Gender, Country of Origin, and Decades in Chicago. Each column can be manipulated to group artists in different categories. For example, if someone wanted to explore the works of Latina artists, the Gender column will separate the artists by gender. Similarly, if someone wanted to research current artists, the Decades in Chicago column would provide easy access to artists working since 2000. By clicking on the individual artist’s name, one can enter that specific artist’s portfolio, see some samples of their work, read their statement, bio information, and visit their personal website(s), if they provided it.

Though the repository is a great introduction to several artist’s work, it also has several limitations. For example, there are several artists who lack bio information, an artist statement, and/or links to other sites where one can explore their work further. It seems like a lot of artists who contributed, provided as much information as they wanted. This is understandable, however, the artists who contributed very little to their biographical information, statements, or information on how to access their work, are doing themselves a disservice. Their portfolio looks less interesting in comparison to a portfolio with extensive information. There are other examples where I would get an error when I clicked on a specific artist’s name. Up-keep of the repository needs to be constant for audiences to learn about all the artists included in the repository. The labelling on the images varies between artists and works of art. I’m speculating that the artists also labelled their own artwork. Some of them provided their name, the title of the piece, and the year it was complete or exhibited. I would like for all of the pieces to have all of this information, but some may only include the artist’s name, the title, or nothing at all. This again does the artist a disservice. It may hinder someone from exploring different works of art further, or seek out the information in a different repository.

Aside from providing the artist portfolios and being able to search via gender, time period, and country of origin, the repository can help audiences search specific types of art. As I was navigating through the repository, I wish there was a way to find similar artists. For example, if there are mural artists, I would like to be able to categorize them together. I would like to see the evolution of murals over time in Chicago and where they are located. Similarly, categorizing public sculptures together would also be beneficial. By being able to locate where public art is located throughout the city, audiences may take the incentive to visit the works of art. By creating more metadata, the repository can be more accessible to audiences and help them discover art they otherwise wouldn’t have sought out.

The Chicago Latino ArTchive is a very useful tool. Being so far away from home, it was great to explore the repository and find works of art that I’ve been familiar with throughout my whole life. It was also rewarding finding new art or artists I’ve never heard of before. Despite finding some great information in the repository, I also found myself using other sites to gain more information about specific pieces of work. I would appreciate it if the ArTchive provided that for me instead. I hope to see this repository growing and thriving as future Latinx artists continue to contribute to Chicago’s culture.

Digital Review 1 January 2020

Celebrating Selena: Fotos y Recuerdos. https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/celebrating-selena-fotos-y-recuerdos/WQJyfKjwK8pFJw. The Selena Museum. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-selena-museum. Reviewed Jan. 22-Jan. 27, 2020.

I first learned of Selena Quintanilla when I watched the 1997 movie titled “Selena” starring Jennifer Lopez.  Well received from the media and public, the movie was the eventual starting point for Jennifer Lopez’s career as an actor/music artist.  From that point on, I became a huge fan of Selena, her music, and inspired from humble beginnings to national stardom as a Mexican-American music icon.  Sadly, at the age of 23, Selena’s career was cut short when she was shot and killed.  Her legacy however, continues to be celebrated by The Selena Museum who, with the help of Selena’s family, has put together a collection of personal images to share for her loyal and loving fans from across the country.

In Celebrating Selena: Fotos y Recuerdos, the site is a collection of archive photos and images from The Selena Museum, highlighting Selena’s career as a musician, entertainer, entrepreneur, and philanthropists.  The site is colorful, organized, and very user friendly, having to only “click” on the arrow to the right to navigate through each image.  The beginning of the site starts with an “Introduction” displaying beautiful self-portrait artwork of Selena with a short description summarizing Selena’s childhood and beginnings as a Tejano music performer with her two older siblings.  Also known for her work and creativity in the “fashion world” the site displays the many outfits that Selena not only performed in but also designed herself.  As a fan myself, I was not aware Selena was such a “trendsetter” as well as advocate for education, often active in community service during her spare time. 

The next section of the site shows Selena’s “favorites” such as her 1986 Porsche and Grammy award for Best Mexican/American Album that she won in 1994.  Selena was the first female Tejano artist to receive this award and currently remains the youngest ever to win in this category.  The last and final section of the site appropriately ends with Selena’s “Legacy.”  This was perhaps my favorite section of the site because it centers on the impact Selena made not just with her fans but also within the Hispanic community from around the world.  Millions adored Selena, who created an instant connection with her fans, while serving as a inspiration and positive role model.  After Selena’s death in 1995, the Quintanilla family continues to receive thousands of fan mail from people all over the world such as Hungary, El Salvador, Japan, and Cuba.  Such letters are shown in the site and ends with more beautiful artwork of Selena that was painted from her fans.

The targeted audience is primarily centered on Selena’s fans while being easily accessible for new users.  While the images are interesting and artwork nice to look at, I found the small descriptions to be equally appealing as they help “tell the story” as one “clicks” through each image throughout the site.  In addition, the descriptions also provide interesting facts that one may not ordinarily get from other sites. 

As mentioned previously, the site is easy to use, clean, colorful, and organized.  I found the site to be especially user friendly in its functionality.  To navigate through the site, all one has to do is “click” on the arrow to the right of the screen and you are taken to the next image.  This sequence remains consistent throughout the site until you reach the end.  On the last page, the “credits” are shown, where you can conveniently “click” on The Selena Museum and provided useful information such as hours of operation, and the collection of all the images there were shown throughout the site.  The sites use of digital media is limited however, since images from The Selena Museum and artwork from various fans are all that’s used.  The site makes it very clear in the “home page” that the Quintanilla family and The Selena Museum are the only contributors of the site. Upon further research, I looked at The Selena Museum website and hope to one day visit the museum located in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Digital Review: Bracero History Archive

Bracero History Archive. http://braceroarchive.org/. Created as Co-Principle Investigator by Sharon Leon and Tom Scheinfeldt. . http://braceroarchive.org/about. Reviewed January 26, 2020.

The Bracero History Archive is a digital collection of images, documents, oral histories, and artifacts collected to record primary sources, evidence, and data pertaining to the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program was a sequence of diplomatic legislation between U.S and Mexico, which was originally instituted by an American executive order in 1942, to abate the issue of labor shortages during World War II. The program existed to provide labor contracts to Mexican immigrants seeking temporary work in the U.S., as it mostly related to U.S. agriculture. The program provided an opportunity for Mexican immigrants to seek a better life, yet over the course of the program’s existence, it was apparent that their great opportunity was used as inevitable mistreatment and exploitation. This digital archive provides a voice for those Bracero workers and their families.

This digital archive provides 3,209 total items, under the archive tab, which is divided by five sub-tabs that present an option of images, documents, oral histories, contributed items, or all items. Users can further navigate the site to explore teaching and historical information regarding the Bracero program. Additional options exist to allow the user to learn more about the digital archive and its mission. The site provides supplementary information regarding their site and virtual partners that contribute to this digital archive. The metadata includes texts of personal statements that contextualize the history behind the program and how it affected each individual and their families. The images tab provides digital metadata to include detailed descriptive images, scanned labor contracts, paycheck stubs, work permits, and items such as postcards.

In addition to each metadata, it provides bibliographic citations and a list of tags that may trigger a search option by inputting keywords. The oral histories tab provides personal testimony by audio regarding Bracero workers and/or their families recalling stories of the program. In most of the audio recordings, the interview is conducted in Spanish. The metadata for all the audio interviews do not include description, text, creator, or a date for the interview. There is no option for translation, either through text or audio, for the interviews conducted in Spanish which might prove challenging for a non-Spanish speaking user of the site. The oral interviews that are conducted in English do give a date and time through audio but lack separate descriptive metadata. The interviews are at times difficult to hear due to background noise and separate conversations happening close to the interview.

This site is open access and does provide a URL for users to gain access to the archive’s metadata if they so wish to contribute to the archive. It produces resources and video tutorials that educate the user on how to effectively use and add to the digital archive. There is an option to click on multiple video tutorials that give step-by-step information on how to navigate Omeka for the purpose of adding to the archive. The video also gives tutorials on how to effectively scan and upload digital images, documents, and other relevant artifacts that contribute to the history of the Bracero program. The resources tab provides information on how to conduct an interview, what questions to ask, a checklist for your interview, and files and documents for authoritative release.

The Bracero History Archive was a 2010 winner at the National Council on Public History. In addition, a recipient of the Public History Project Award. The site has much potential and the idea structure behind the archive is worthwhile, yet, it seems not much has been updated since possibly 2010. Navigation is easy but rudimentary in terms of deficiency regarding metadata and historical information. The history tab only gives a giant bibliography and does not interpret or give much background information on its collection. The site design lacks and does not provide much visual attraction in representation of the history. The idea of reaching out to individuals involved or affected by the Bracero program to contribute their personal archival material is captivating and resourceful yet falls short without a project historian curating. It is clearly visible that not much oversight is conducted regarding the contributed archival material.

All things considered, the Bracero History Archive is sitting on a gold mine with these great interviews, documents, images, and artifacts that are sitting in digital storage without a date, place, creator, or description. It desperately needs updating and a digital make-over to be more aesthetically appealing. Maps and other visual aids would be more helpful in dispensing a geographical idea of designated areas in the country where bracero camps existed and parts of the country where the law was invoked for labor necessities.

Erica Esparza

St. Mary’s University

San Antonio, Texas

An Unsinkable Demo: The Titanic Honor and Glory Team’s Masterpiece in the Making.

Titanic Honor and Glory https://www.titanichg.com/demo overseen by Vintage Digital Revival LLC https://www.titanichg.com/the-game January 19, 2020.

Titanic Honor and Glory is an in-development game that seeks to take its players back in time to explore the most famous ship in the world. In the third and final demo, players play as a British Board of Trade inspector who arrives at Harland and Wolff Shipyard prior to Titanic’s sea trials and just days before the beginning of her fateful maiden voyage. The player has free roam of a small section of the Shipyard where they are free to explore the beautiful scenery of Northern Ireland, gaze at the stunning Titanic that looms majestically in the background, and even explore parts of the shipyard itself that is littered with evidence of Titanic’s impending voyage. As the Board of Trade inspector, the player can navigate through a literal maze of coal cars, paint-making shops, and privies in order to find the right way onto the gang-way that leads to Titanic’s first class entrance. However, it is on board the Titanic where the demo shines most. The player can wander through a small portion of the interior of Titanic which has been meticulously and beautifully recreated through in-depth research and Unreal Engine 4. As they move from one exquisite room to the next players can read brief descriptions of each room and some of the decorations in them. They can admire the beautiful wrought iron glass domes of the Titanic’s grand staircases (Yes, there were two: One fore and one aft), walk through the first class reception room (of which there were also two: one for the dinning saloon and one for the restaurants), marvel at the french walnut paneling in the exclusive A La Carte Restaurant, and trek down Scotland Road to the sweltering Boiler Room No. 6 and the Utilitarian Third-Class dinning saloon; all the while learning the purpose of each room and Titanic’s interior layout. This demo offers, without a doubt the most accurate and realistic depiction of Titanic ever made for any platform in history. However, the demo has its limits. It is after all a demo and is not designed to offer the full game-experience. In the full game players will be able to explore every inch of Titanic; from the grand dinning saloons to the smallest closets. Also, the players will be able to play a story mode with a murder mystery story in the final product. The demo does suffer from cringe dialogue from its lead character, and some stiff looking seagulls that follow you around the shipyard. Nevertheless, this demo offers just a sliver of what the final product will be, but more importantly it is a testament to the passion of the developers.

The audience for the Titanic Honor and Glory demo is diverse. Titanic is after all, the most famous ship in the world, and anything to to do with the vessel always garners significant attention. This demo is no exception. It certainly has plenty of content to offer causal fans of the movie or those who are familiar with Titanic’s story but want to know more. However, it is unique in that it aims to educate in a fun and interactive way by allowing players to explore Titanic itself. Additionally, the demo offers something special for Titanic enthusiasts and historians. It is the most accurate depiction of Titanic ever made. The lack of photographs of Titanic’s interiors has made it difficult to determine how Titanic really looked, especially when compared to Titanic’s older sister Olympic with whom she shared many similarities and differences, but thanks to the remarkable research and sheer dedication of the Titanic Honor and Glory team historians and enthusiast will have a truly unique tool that will help answer some of these questions in the most detailed and accurate way possible.

The Titanic Honor and Glory team have used the Unreal Engine Four to bring Titanic back to life for their game. Unreal Engine Four is one of the best game development softwares out there designed to offer a truly immersive and life like experience for gamers. As one walks the halls of Titanic in this demo you realize that she lives again in this game; As real to you as she was to those who sailed in her 108 years ago. What this demo has accomplished and what the Titanic Honor and Glory Team are still working to accomplish is truly special. There have been a lot of Titanic games, but never one that is so dedicated to accuracy and indeed to history as Titanic Honor and Glory.

One of the most important components of DH is the corroboration between members of a project team and their community. The Titanic Honor and Glory has worked for years to foster a large and devoted community. Their online presence is impressive with their you tube channel having over 200,000 subscribers and some of their videos having over one million views. More importantly, the Titanic Honor and Glory team has consulted with leading Titanic historians like Ken Marschall and others as well as descendants of survivors to create as respectful and authentic a Titanic experience as possible. Their development team is diverse as well, drawing from all parts of the United States and some of their consultants are also from the U.K. and Europe.

Titanic Honor and Glory is a masterpiece in the making. Their team’s dedication to historical accuracy and detail in their game will make this game an unforgettable experience.

An image depicting a parlor suite on board Titanic with its ornately carved wood work and period appropriate furniture with fireplace and mantle
A rendition of Titanic’s Empire Style Suite rendered by the Titanic Honor and Glory team and released March 14, 2018 | Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Digital Mapping: Placing Segregation

Placing Segregation, dsps.lib.uiowa.edu/ placingsegregation/omaha/. Created by the University of Iowa. Data produced by geocoding census records and GIS mapping. Reviewed January 21–27, 2020.

The University of Iowa’s Placing Segregation project is a digital narrative that provides a spatial representation of racially mixed communities within Washington D.C., Nashville, Tennessee, and Omaha, Nebraska between  1860–1870. This displays the racial, income, and occupational information from census records. Additionally, the team at the University of Iowa manually transcribed and cross-referenced census information orresponding records from city directories. directories. With this data, the team has illustrated their findings onto digitized historical maps from the said era. The team specifically chose historic maps that  most accurately align with the current layout of each city. This project aims to digitally represent racial divisions within each of these three cities by reinterpreting traditional primary sources to reveal alternative narratives. The digital platform utilized to convey this information is a standalone website, affiliated with the University of Iowa.

This team is very transparent in terms of sharing  their methods of research and the reasons behind their design choices for these visualizations. As mentioned above, this project utilizes census records to gather familial and racial records and city directories to gather income. The team found that this information revealed details of each individual resident, which would have displayed too much information. Rather than identifying every single person, the team made the decision to organize demographic information under a collective household name — usually, the head of the household. I think this makes each visual easier to follow, therefore holding the audience’s interest. This decision still accurately represents the familial dynamics of that era. However, this kind of organization grants privilege to male residents, as most females were not homeowners or financially independent. Furthermore, the site does not show exactly how many people lived in one household, which could have served as an additional indicator of wealth disparity.

In terms of visuals and the design of the website, this resource is easily navigable for a variety of audiences. The website is compatible with desktop and mobile devices. Both formats utilize very similar layouts to display the information. The menu is clearly visible at the top of the page, where viewers can access all aspects of the project including: all three city maps, background information, contributing members, methodology, the intended interpretation of the data, and further educational exercises. However, the “Exercise” tab appears to be empty. I’d recommend filling the gap with some indication that this section is a work in progress.

Navigating through the maps and the information they display is also fairly straightforward and uniform. At the top left corner of each map, a key presents different demographic information regarding race and class. As you select each category, the blue dots that correspond to each demographic turn yellow. This program is simple yet effective in differentiating each group, and helping audiences visualize the racial divisions within each city. The visual stimulus also makes it easy and enticing for audiences to further their inquiry. Clicking a dot will open up side boxes with additional details for each resident. 

It seems that one target audience may be the current residents of these cities since the team made a particular effort to choose a historical map that most closely fits each contemporary grid. This team took an extra step to imbed a modern grayscale map that represents the current landscape of each city, which facilitates a deeper connection to this information. Additionally, this website identifies itself as a reliable source for research. As explicitly communicated in the website’s methods statement: “The research therefore has the effect of creating a resource for historical inquiry, and it enables immediate analysis of the study areas.” One way this site provides specialized services for its academic or scholarly audience is by offering alternative versions of the information as downloadable spreadsheets. These are also accessed within the main menu.

There is not a clear indication as to why these particular cities were chosen for the project. No where within any menu options is a clear mission statement expressed. The team only elaborates on what this information could do, not necessarily what they’d like it to do. The website does, however, provide historical context of each map. Under the “Interpretations” section of the menu, the team breaks down the landscape, infrastructure, and economic activities of each city and how they influenced the way racial lines were drawn in each city. Thinking temporally and geographically, I’m inferring that these three cities were chosen to represent three separate regions of the United States prior and post Civil War. This could be a really unique method for analyzing social relations before and after the war. However, each map represents different years within 1860-1870. They are not representing the same year or providing a “before and after” of each map.

Despite some minor flaws, Placing Segregation provides a unique perspective on racial dynamics. By examining certain areas of the country that do not particularly fall within the Deep South,—where the action occurred—brings attention to the outliers of northern and southern tensions. Furthermore, this project may invoke present-day residents of these cities to evaluate the underlying foundations of contemporary social patterns. No set of data will lead any team to create a perfect reinterpretation of history. However, the team at the University of Iowa has effectively employed digitization to create a space for disregarded narratives.

Victoria Villaseñor

St. Mary’s University 

 San Antonio, Texas 

Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains Through Space and Time. https://plainsmovement.com/ . Created and maintained by Joel Zapata, Phd. https://plainsmovement.com/about . Reviewed January 25-27, 2020.

The project brings attention to the Chicano/a movement that happened in the Southern Plains, a rural region of Texas. It mainly relies on primary sources, in the form of multiple newspapers, to get information on events of Chicano activism.  The website has two pages before reaching the main map. These pages do a great job on contextualizing the project by providing history on the Chicano movement, and what area the Southern Plains encompasses. The author acknowledges that not all instances of Chicano activism in the region are listed yet, as more research is done on this topic the author will continue to update the map. The author does a great job of conveying the information about each event. He created a map of Texas with color coded dots on the Southern Plains. Blue dots show sites of Chicano activism, and red dots represent killings that further motivated the Chicano movement. When clicked on, the dots open up to a short description of the event. Accompanying the map is a time line with the events plotted onto it as well. In addition to this there is a list on the side of the map with the events also in chronological order.

The author made sure that there are three ways, all easy to access and navigate, to find relevant information. The map invites the visitor to explore it and discover things at their own pace. The timeline shows the visitor how the instances may have impacted each other. The list is a quick way to look for information on a specific event. The author did a great job in designing the website so that the viewer could find their information easily. The two pages contextualizing this issue is a great way to start, followed by the well-designed map, and then four pages that give the view access to the items, information on how research was done, the resources that made it possible, and an overview of the project and the author. These divisions of information are easy to navigate for the view, on both the computer and mobile browsers. The only possible issue on a mobile browser is that the map feels a bit crowded, but that seems to be more the smaller screen space then the design of the author. The website could also work on improving its accessibility to those who don’t have good vision. It could look at including a narration of each event if a certain button is clicked.

The audience is not clearly defined in the project itself but is seems as if it is attempting outreach to people who don’t know what the Chicano movement was, or those who know what it was but don’t know the impact it had in the Southern Plains. The two contextualizing sections before the map do a great job of setting the stage for visitors that may be unaware of either history. It is a great invitation for others to explore a side of history they may not know.

I think that a digital project was the best way for the author to work towards his goal. This project is currently expanding as research on the subject expands. Rather than having to update a physical display every year or two, the author is able to keep adding to his current project. The interactive ability of the map and the timeline would have been hard to combine in a physical display and now viewers are invited to jump in and explore. The map and time line are also well done and there are no issues when using them. It allows for the condensing and expanding of information as the viewer deems necessary.

Joel Zapata, a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Texas El Paso, created this project. Most of his work and scholarship deals with the borderlands region, the South, the Southwest, and the Southern Plains. His work deals with the existence and history of Mexicans in these regions and how they have impacted them. This project is definitely a great way of continuing this work and it did so in a way that the viewer can enjoy engaging in.

Digital Review: Wearing Gay History

Wearing Gay History. http://wearinggayhistory.com/. Created and maintained by Eric Gonzaba and Amanda Regan, http://wearinggayhistory.com/about. Reviewed Jan. 2020.

The Wearing Gay History project is self-described as “A Digital Archive of Historical LGBT T-Shirts,” hosting the queer t-shirt collections of 14 different American archives. The digital archive contains shirts from the last 40 years of queer history, and showcases them using Omeka, a platform friendly to digital archiving. The website aims to put LGBT history in context with itself, defeating coastal biases and exhibiting the diversity of the queer community.

The site features over 4000 items that have been divided into 21 collections based on their origin. Users can search the items by a list of preset tags, by collection, or by detailed search using keywords, locations, and other signifiers. The images are not uniform in background color or mannequin, but these details don’t detract from the cohesiveness of the archive. The metadata includes a description of the creator, date, place of origin, subject, and a few other fields. Each item includes a citation and information about copyright, which is a great help for those wanting to refer to these t-shirts in their work.

The site also includes interpretation of its collections in the form of digital exhibits. These exhibits use the digitized t-shirts to inform about queer history by placing these shirts in context. Many of these shirts require context that non-experts don’t understand without explanation. “The Ones that Laughed: Humor in the LGBT Community” explains the necessary context of humorous t-shirts. For example, a t-shirt reading “Homo-Depot” is a play on a scandal involving the department store Home-Depot. The site uses this t-shirt to inform its audience about the history of anti-LGBT workplace policies during the 21st century.

The goals set out on the “About” tab are congruent with the digital products featured on the site. The goal of countering bi-coastal bias is met by the inclusion of a t-shirt map that shows that the bulk of the digital archive comes from inland. The goal of examining the connection between distinct identities is aided by the tag system, many items having multiple tags which span across differing identities. The goal of increasing visibility for small archives is met by the map as well, shirts being grouped according to their archive of origin. The collections are accessible to the public and bring queer history to the forefront. The “About” tab also refers to other digital resources about the queer community, including articles and other digital archives.

In terms of shortcomings, navigation and inclusivity serve as minor issues. While the tag system is helpful, the map is accessible, and there is a means of searching the shirts, the search feature is a bit intimidating, containing many fields that have little use for the non-expert. Inclusion is also difficult, due in part to the recency of many identities. The archive includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender t-shirts, but excludes (though not intentionally) the other identities that the expanded LGBTQIA+ features. Again, these identities are only beginning to gain visibility, so an archive of the past 40 years of queer history would naturally face difficulty keeping up with these new developments.

In all, this digital archive knocks out its many goals through diversity of materials, interpretation, and ease of use. This archive has clearly been curated by queer historians with a queer audience in mind. Though it has minor shortcomings, it hardly detracts from the effectiveness of the project as a whole.

Digital History Review: Vintage San Antonio – a photo history

View of the Majestic Theatre in the 1950's
View of the Majestic Theatre in the 1950’s
Photo courtesy of Vintage San Antonio Facebook Page

San Antonio recently celebrated its 300-year “birthday.” Birthday is in quotation marks because we know that 300 years ago was not when San Antonio just popped up out of the earth. Three hundred years ago Spain founded San Antonio de Padua on the date that recognizes the saint. Photography has been around a couple of hundred years and has since captured a relatively new style of history. This new style of history is a photo-history.


Occasionally, a reader may come across a new stream of images on their timeline based on a follow or a re-post. That is what happened in this case. Casually scrolling through a Facebook timeline, can bring a user upon a photo of San Antonio from the early 1940s or an image of a Battle of Flowers Parade photo from a few years ago or 20 years ago. The findings are usually unique.


Vintage San Antonio is a Facebook page, created in 2013 that features photos of San Antonio from just about every year range of the historic city’s timeline. A scroller of social media will most likely not come across a portrait of themselves but could see a photo of a loved one from years past. The page is an excellent way for an individual to reminisce over a pastime that has faded in many parts of the city.


The photos included on the page have a broad audience including students, historians, San Antonio natives, those visiting the historic city and a wealth of other page visitors. Depending on the scope of a visit to the page, the audience can broaden further.
The page design is the same as every other Facebook page due to the inability to change the layout or color settings of the page. How the administrator’s post to “Vintage San Antonio – a photo history” is simple and draws users straight to the page through organic impressions. The page is easily accessible and responsive on most internet-accessible devices.


This page is sufficient in its use of digital media. The page operators request photos from the public to be sent in with as much information that can be shared to send along with them. Some images are scanned and shared by the administrators of the page.
Mentioning the administrators of the page led to questioning who the administrators are. Searching through the page did not reveal the page owners ( an update to this post will include the creators once a response to a message sent comes through).


This Facebook page is a page that is frequent for inspiration of photos and ideas for writing topics. Hopefully, readers of this blog post can use this Facebook page for the same inspiration that others have.

Tool Test: Airtable

Airtable Logo

Let’s talk tables. Tables for everything! Tables

Let us talk tables. Tables are for everything! Tables are for projects! Tables are for birthdays! Tables are for eating on! No. No. All jokes aside, tables are amazing tools that, if used the right way, can maximize efforts and can maximize productivity.
My professor at St. Mary’s University, Dr. Lindsey Wieck, introduced me to this innovative application, and I have been using it ever since.

“Airtable” has a way of helping teams track and manage projects. That is how I use it, of course.

When I approached the idea of using “Airtable” as a tool for project management, I was not thinking of historical advantages. I was not thinking of how I could access this fantastic tool in the future. My thought process around using “Airtable” was simple. The application was cute, free, and it worked. Using apps like Google Docs, Slack, and Skype, verified for me that collaborative apps were probably the way to go. This assumption has proven itself and paid off in dividends.

Now to the use of the app itself. “Airtable” is excellent. The version of the application that I will refer to here is the free version that has some restrictions, but I will lay those out here. The paid version of this tool grants users the rights to “blocks” that allow users the capability to change text colors, send text messages, integrate with other applications, etc. There are a few different options that the paid version unlocks, but those pieces were not really deciding factors in using the web-based client, so I haven’t included them here for that reason.

Using Airtable as a simple archive-tracker can do wonders. While I was tracking submissions for requests for photography, I was also storing photos from each photo shoot that could help me create a timeline in the future.

I have had the great opportunity of being invited to events and cultural happenings in San Antonio and will continue to be. These events provide me with insight and opportunity. These events also provide me with photos of a ton of fascinating subjects that represent a culture that is seen throughout the historic, 300-year-old city in Texas. The application has helped me track these events, the photos, and the contacts that I have made throughout this journey thus far.

The development of the program has and will continue to develop my workflow and can do the same for any user that is new to the system. This system also has ways to help track historical events and photos and will continue to do so for other users.