Draft Grant Proposal: Questions

What is your inquiry question? What happened during the British capture of Washington in August 1814, and where?

What do you want your users to learn? The impact, physical and psychological, of the British capture and destruction of Washington in August 1814.

What is your methodological stance? The exhibit takes a spatial social history approach, seeking to tie each source or object to the exact location which provides its relevance to the events of the burning of Washington. Images which show the extent of the damage, first-person primary source narratives, and recognizable objects will help create points of connection for general public users; hopefully this will be felt even more strongly when they are in the location where these events took place.

How does your design work to support these goals? The design of the site is arranged spatially, with options out from each place to explore the narratives and objects associated with it. The mobile/multi-platform design means that people can browse the exhibit and the archives while sharing the historical location.

What new things do you need to learn? Best practices for using Omeka, how to build an Omeka plug-in.

How will you go about learning these things? Best practices for Omeka can be learned by example and also by reading the extensive documentation. Building a plug-in starts at documentation, but I will probably also seek help from people who have built a plugin before.

What is the rationale for the decisions you’re making about source choices (by type, collection, time period, etc.)? In the documentary sources, I want as much as possible for the voices of the people present to be heard. I am selecting diaries and letters primarily, although also including some newspapers and memoirs (partly because there is a memoir by an enslaved person who was present, and I want to include all possible voices). For images and objects, the goal is period pieces, to preserve the historic moment. I have to make some leeway for prints, because they take time to produce, but the objective is to collect as much immediate impact as possible. The locations I select by their prominence – likelihood that someone will be in the vicinity – but also purely by documentation. The more documentation on a site which was or was not burned, the more likely it is to be included.

What questions remain for you to provide a convincing grant application? I think I need to more fully address the work plan, or at least convey the work involved in selecting sources/material and building the plug-in. I need to find a way to really emphasize the mobile/multiplatform aspect, as well.