Silhouettes and Passing Time

A city cannot function properly without the co-operation of its populace and, even so, it Screenshot (35)requires dedicated individuals to view it with a critical eye and decide where it requires improvement. Beyond that, it requires individuals who are willing to not only see these needs, but also to act upon them. Women committed to this cause, through a variety of means, were listed in the Silhouettes: Women of Harrisburg Remembered booklet printed in 1983 by the American Association of University Women. My Story Map for our third project, “City Spatial”, was created with a similar purpose to that of the booklet that inspired it – to shine some light on the influential women of Harrisburg during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and express how they each had a hand in changing their city.

Women were the beating heart of the city and oversaw improvements and reforms of their own. These women were changing their city for the better, even if these changes weren’t on some grand scale to be recorded by the history books. Each one helped the city of Harrisburg maintain its path toward improvement.

You can view my story map here.

I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I was signing up for when I selected this class last semester. All I knew was that it was required for my Public History concentration and that there would be GIS involved at some point. I don’t know what I expected, but I don’t think it was what this class turned out to be — thank goodness! This class, like the others I’ve taken with Dr. Pettegrew, was fascinating, thought-provoking, and, dare I say, fun.IMG_3600

I’m grateful that this was not just a course about
digital history, but also incorporated the city of Harrisburg as our playing field. I haven’t taken a state or local history class since middle school and it was very interesting to learn so much more about the city which I was born in and have lived, worked, and, now, study near. When this course began, I predicted that my favorite part would be the City Beautiful project, because I’d heard a lot of mention of the City Beautiful Movement while completing my internship, but I was recently surprised to find that my favorite unit was the one we’ve just completed. It was a privilege to study and tell the stories of a sampling of Harrisburg’s influential ladies and I, actually, ended up enjoying this final project!

IMG_3268This semester, I was able to build upon my experience with Excel, WordPress, and GIS, as-well-as learn how to make and use databases in Access. I could also see myself employing Esri Story Maps for personal use in the future! Knowledge of all of these programs will, undoubtedly, also assist me in the professional world. Unlike most courses I’ve taken, this course was less concept-oriented and more process and result-oriented, as we spent very little time listening to lectures and taking notes about history, and most of our time learning how to do history. Our projects felt worthwhile and, in addition to being excellent learning experiences, actually meant something in the grander scheme of studying and digitizing Harrisburg’s history.

History in the modern world is very much about doing history and I think this class really captured that and helped better prepare us for futures in our ever-evolving discipline.


“History is choices we collectively make about how to look at the world
and how to respond to what we see.” -John Green

-Kaitlyn Coleman, Junior History and English Major at Messiah College

2 thoughts on “Silhouettes and Passing Time

  1. Excellent presentation with the story map. The Civic Club of Harrisburg should use all of you to better promote the potential of Harrisburg and bring the past forward to today.

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