After writing numerous research papers over the course of my college career I began to view the time and effort that I put into these projects, which were ultimately destined for either a cluttered file cabinet or a trash can, as a waste of time and research. All of the things I learned from reading books and digging through archives was lost when the semester was over, and usually forgotten by the time the next one began. It seemed like there should be a way to hold on the to the information that I obtained and, better yet, share it with those who could use it to further their own research. After all, what's the point of telling a story if no one is able to hear it? So, with the help of one of my professors and some fellow classmates, I discovered a number of online tools and platforms that allowed me to collect all of my research and share it with others for little or no cost.
An example of this is an online exhibit tool from the University of Southern California called Scalar, which I am currently using as a repository for information gathered by students, researchers, and myself. Others tools, such as Google Earth and Stanford University's Palladio, allow students and scholars to visualize data in ways that allow us to identify geographical relationships and recognize historical patterns. Powerful technology such as this allows us to understand the past in ways that books and journals simply can't, and it's also really cool.
Some of the projects that I have included below, such as the Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. Scalar exhibit and the interactive historical mining map, were produced with the help of college history students under my direction, with the expressed purpose of allowing them to build on the historical understanding of our region (Southern Colorado). Students of the discipline should be taught that, as professional historians, research alone is only half the job. One of my primary goals has been to provide students and colleagues with platforms that can allow the fruits of their labor to be accessed and used by other students and researchers from anywhere, anytime.
While some of these projects may seem a little unrefined, please keep in mind that most of them were produced by history (not IT) students, using tools that were 100% free. The information contained within them is what's important, and it can easily be exported to produce beautiful (and expensive) web-based online exhibits and interactive museum displays.
A page from the Hanna Ranch Scalar project.
Started in the Spring of 2014 as a class project, I produced this online exhibit as a way of providing access to information from my research on CF&I and its subsidiaries. It has since become a repository for information gathered by over a dozen CSU-Pueblo history students.
When I started at the Steelworks Center of the West in 2015 the organization's website needed a complete overhaul. I built this site from the ground up, connected it with PastPerfect Online to display their vast collection of digitized photos, and produced dozens of pages and features.
Through months of exhaustive research number of former CSU-Pueblo students and I located dozens of CF&I's mines. Their coordinates were entered into a database that was converted to a Google Map, which now includes their locations, historical photos, and links to their mine profiles.
A project about the Hanna Ranch will be discussed here.
A Palladio project will be discussed here.
I haven't figured out what will go here yet.