As a junior history and English major at Messiah College I enrolled in Dr. Pettegrew’s “Digital History” course in order to fulfill a requirement for my public history concentration. I officially decided to add this concentration and a public relations minor, after my recent internship experience.
This summer, I had the privilege of participating in the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum
Commission (PHMC) Keystone Internship Program. I worked in the CRGIS (Cultural Resources Geographic Information System) Office of the Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP), learned about the internal processes and procedures of the operation of the State Historic Preservation office (SHPO), and saw how the SHPO connects with and helps federal agencies manage and evaluate their resources. While in this position, I was able to dip my feet into digital history by gaining basic knowledge of GeoMedia and ArcGIS mapping software and working to digitize archaeological site forms. In the process, I was able to learn more about Pennsylvania’s industrial, agricultural, architectural, and archaeological history, as well as gain more research experience and learn about the process of completing historical resource surveying. Overall, I’m quite grateful for this experience, as it laid the groundwork for my experience this semester and confirmed that learning how to do digital history is incredibly important for my success in this field.
I’m quite excited to delve into the projects ahead and learn more about Harrisburg history, as I’ve never had a history class which specifically focused on Pennsylvania’s capital city. The “City Beautiful Movement,” which we’ve been reading about in City Contented, City Discontented is a class topic of particular interest to me, as it was mentioned quite often during my internship, yet it’s something I know very little about.
The Digital Harrisburg project seems quite fascinating and I look forward to learning more about its progress thus far and contributing to the overall result. My passion is for stories – in whatever form they take – and it seems like we will be exploring the stories of individual citizens through our projects.
As we began our coursework, I couldn’t help but observe that the field of digital history seems endless and, equally, daunting, as it grows exponentially alongside technological advancement. From improving our webpage design skills, to learning how to use archiving tools such as Zotero, we are being provided with the “tools of the trade,” and I’m interested to see how we will use them to navigate this new horizon. I am confident that this course will provide ample opportunity for us to get hands-on with history, as we delve into Harrisburg – not as it is, but as it was.
“History is a symphony of echoes heard and unheard. It is a poem with events as verses.” ~Charles Angoff