I just received messages from some folks who are working on two different Civil War-related projects, both of which are worthy of your attention.
First up is a symposium scheduled for this October at Pamplin Historical Park, an innovative and acclaimed public history institution in Petersburg, VA. The focus will be the 1860 election and the coming of the war, and they’ve got a fantastic slate of presenters lined up: George Rable, William Freehling, Elizabeth Varon, Gary Ecelbarger, Russell McClintock, Joseph Dawson, and A. Wilson Greene. Check out the site’s Special Events page for more info and a reservation form, or give them a call at (804)861-2408.
Next comes a fantastic and ambitious undertaking of which I was previously unaware, an effort to utilize technology in conjunction with historic landscapes more fully and creatively than ever before. It’s called The Civil War Augmented Reality Project. They’ve set up a blog, which you’ll now find added to my own blogroll and which I recommend other history bloggers add to theirs. Here’s a YouTube video that will give you an idea of how it’ll work:
Here’s the information they sent along to me, with some additional details:
This message is from a group of history educators in Pennsylvania who have developed a Civil War project that is in the process of raising a modest amount of money to build prototypes for gathering additional partners.
Our project, the Civil War Augmented Reality Project, is intended to enhance the experiences of visitors to Civil War sites. It is also intended to increase attendance and revenue for historic sites by offering both “high” and “low” tech experiences to best reach the majority of the population.
We feel that our project is fulfilling a need that educators, park workers, technology enthusiasts, and Civil War enthusiasts have discussed in the past: How can historic sites both raise public interest in their institutions though technology, and not alienate the non-technical history fans?
We have worked hard on the answer, and are interested in promoting our creative solutions.
We would like to make clear that the project is not intended solely for Pennsylvania. It is our hope that the project will expand to other venues, as we feel that we have the ability to use our ideas to enhance the experiences of all Americans at historic sites.
If you have a chance, please check out our blog:
And our fun, Civil-War flavored funding campaign on Kickstarter:
If you think that our project has merit, we would be delighted if you could help spread the word, and mention it in your blog.
Here are a few other links of interest regarding our project:
A recent newspaper article:
Other recent blog posts:
Our Twitter account page:
Thanks very much for considering us!
The Civil War Augmented Reality Project
Jeff Mummert- Hershey High School and York College of Pennsylvania
Art Titzel- Hershey Middle School
Jay Vasellas- Red Lion Area High School and York College of Pennsylvania
Needless to say, I think this is pretty darn cool. Integrating technology into a public history setting is no easy task; you’ve got to balance the desire to reach people who are tech-savvy with the need to accommodate those who aren’t. Furthermore, you’ve got to make sure that the technology in question is actually the most effective medium to convey the information, or it becomes nothing more than an expensive gimmick. I think these guys are on exactly the right track. They’ve figured out how to exploit the available technology to enhance the visitor’s experience in a way that would be impossible with any other medium, and to do so in a way that meets the needs of many potential audiences. Head over to their blog and check it out.