72nd OVI Project

December 8, 2009 by

The 72nd OVI Project is an ongoing development that allows my AP US History students and me to pool our skills to produce original historical research easily available to the learning community.  We are building a webpage dedicated to the history of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry which fought in the Civil War.  Using primary sources provided by the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, I guide my students through the challenges of transcribing personal letters, gathering data from date from scattered resources and making reasoned judgements about conflicting information.  For their part, my students show me how to frame and present our findings in a format that is substantial yet effective for use by their contemporaries.  The greatest benefit, from my perspective,  is that our students get to “do history” (which can make the discipline come alive for them) and contribute to the general body of knowledge.  If you’re interested in learning more about this, I’ve established a blog on which I explain the project in great detail.

4 Responses to 72nd OVI Project

  1. Erin Bell on December 9, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Hi Jim,

    This sounds like a great project. When will we be able to see the website? How engaged will your students be in the technological aspects of this project? At CPHDH, we do similar projects that allow students to publish their research online (see, for example: csudigitalhumanities.org/exhibits/). Even at the college level, we have come to expect a certain level of variance in quality of research, attention to detail, and technical aptitude. I’ll be interested to hear how you are approaching quality control and technical training. We are always tweaking our process, experimenting with new approaches, and, increasingly, finding many reasons to build our own tools (namely, plug-ins and simple extensions of existing software like Omeka) in hopes of improving the student and end user experience.

    As an aside, have you or your students checked out Ohio Civil War 150 (www.ohiocivilwar150.org/)? ~ Full disclosure: this is another project I am involved in ~ The site was designed with students and teachers (as well as the public) in mind. There are opportunities for your students to contribute their research there as well and I know that the folks at OHS would love to work with you to make that happen.

    In any case, I’m looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Erin Bell on December 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Ha! I failed to mention that it also sounds like you are doing a great job of teaching actual historical thinking skills, which I suppose is the point!

    I’m sure you will find a ready audience to discuss the intellectual and pedagogical aspects of your project – not just the technical and technological. I know there are others out there – at both the high school and university level – who are thinking deeply about teaching and digital history. Curious to hear what they have to add to this conversation.

  3. Mark Tebeau on December 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Very cool; I am especially interested in the Historical Thinking bit.

  4. Mark C. Keever on February 28, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I am compiling an Access data base of every member of the regiment. I’m using the Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers dated 1888. It is a comprehensive statistical survey. Almost done. I can offer support for your efforts…

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