My digital history project is to expand my Omeka site to include the rest of the cartoons I have collected and studied for my thesis. This will expand the site from focusing on the theme of how the submariners expressed their relations with various groups to also include the themes of daily life in the Navy and views on violence and death. The site will thus be a prototype of a web based tour that visitors could use while visiting the USS Becuna at the Independence Seaport Museum. Indeed, the exhibit will be laid out similar to how the visitor would walk through the submarine, with text examining the cartoons and their meaning as well as its connections to the submarine.
The use of Omeka for this project is ideal as it is designed to create online exhibits and thus has all the functionality needed to create an effective way to showcase the cartoons. Omeka is the best suited technology to approach this digital project since it allows for easy input of material and usual metadata that is necessary when creating a public exhibit.
Public history as a field strives to engage with the public in thought-provoking ways so that history is not just the repetition of facts but helps one come to a deeper understanding of the past. The use of a digital platform supports public history best practices since it offers a more interactive experience for the visitors. Compared to a static paper tour, a digital tour allows for more information to be added, as well as aspects such as zoomable pictures and maps. Indeed, with digital tools the tour would be limited to what can conveniently fit onto small piece of paper, reducing the number of cartoons that could be included. Furthermore, a digital tour allows for an integration of visual, audio, and textual interpretation that is not available in traditional self-guided tours. Thus the tour can therefore allow the visitor to engage with digitized images of the various cartoons as well as hear parts of the museum’s oral history collection. This will give the exhibit more depth and help the visitor connect with the history in a more meaning way, since they could both hear and see the submariners’ experiences.
The intended audience of this project would be visitors to the USS Becuna. Thus the site will be geared to exploring the submariners’ lives in regard to how that connects to the cartoons since how they lived is the largest interest of visitors according to the Independence Seaport Museum. Furthermore, since the Independence Seaport Museum, is working a new tour on the general history of the Becuna, this tour will operate as a supplement tour for those who have already been visited the Becuna. This will allow the tour to focus on the cultural history aspects rather than be bogged down in dates and facts on the Becuna’s service. A secondary audience are those interested in cartoon history and as the project is a digital exhibit, it would allow people interested to visit and learn about this cultural history without having to be in Philadelphia.
On the whole, the creation of a tour of the submariners’ cartoons through Omeka will allow for an interactive and informative exhibit/ tour examining Navy culture.
Photo from the J . Welles Henderson Archives and Library at the Independence Seaport Museum