The semester has come to a close and it is hard not to reminisce over the vast amount of research we as a class did in Digital History. Up to this point I had been accustomed to standard historical study, however, Dr. Pettegrew’s class completely altered my perception of what constitutes the field of historical study through various digital projects.
The course Digital History focused on three main projects, the City Beautiful, the City Social, and the City Spatial. These three projects focused on a different aspect of the City of Harrisburg around the year 1900.
The City Beautiful project focused on Harrisburg’s campaign for improvements around the turn of the twentieth century. Reformers such as Vance McCormick desired to see the city of Harrisburg grow into a modern city. Prior to the twentieth century, most of the cities roads were unpaved, and the water system was poor.
In order to map this out, us as a class utilized The Harrisburg Patriot and found different articles relating to the improvements.
The next project we as a class undertook was the City Social project. In order to complete this project, we as a class went to the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. The project required us to photograph and digitize Harrisburg tax records from 1900. We were each assigned different wards of the city. I was assigned the Third Ward. From the information we attained at the archives, we were able to map out where the wealth of the city was based merely on property taxation.
The third and final project I have been working on for Digital History is the City Spatial Project. The objective for this project was to create a Story Map of ten images which map out the City Improvements. Originally I had intended on focusing on the Donors who gave money to the City Beautiful, however, I found multiple images that related more to the key figures involved with the improvements. Most of the information I gathered pertained to the Board of Trade. I focused mainly on key figures such as Vance McCormick, Edward Gross, and Maurice Eby.
Take a few minutes to view the Story Map I created for the City Beautiful Movement here.
Overall this course taught me that History is a developing field that is utilizing more technology in order to aid historical research. It truly is amazing the effect technology has had on History. As I am receiving my bachelor’s degree in less than a week and attending Seminary in the Fall of 2016, I will take with me much of what I have been taught through my four years at Messiah. But, Digital History stands alone as a truly unique course. It has completely expanded my view of the historical realm to include the Digital World. For that, I am grateful to Dr. Pettegrew for challenging me to see the world through a different lens.
-Edward LaRow III, Messiah College