Engagement through Digital History

Something that I really enjoy about my UMW experience is the fact that the content in one course can be transferred to another course. For instance in Introduction to Public History, Hist 300zz, I just read a chapter in my textbook called “Engaging Audiences” that had two sections dedicated to how museums are using digital history methods to engage with audiences. In one of the sections called “Difficult Encounters Online,” it talks about how professionals compete with many digital distractions when trying to convey a specific message. This section’s message basically states that people leaving the site is inevitable and that digital historians will always be competing with email and what’s trending. Even though digital historians have this competition it doesn’t mean they should not try to capture people’s attention.

The section goes on to discuss an example of a website that engages audiences all while addressing a difficult topic. This example was The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC. Since this website is such a large database the book specially focused on their online exhibit called Some Were Neighbors. The ideology of having this exhibit online is interesting because it is no longer an exhibit featured in the museum, however, by having it online still encourages people to have the difficult encounters that are difficult to have in the physical space. In my opinion, this exhibit and the entire website are incredible examples of digital history and public history at work. I highly recommend that you check these resources out because they are well done and could help you when thinking about the design elements for your own websites. Also, this website is a good tool for educators to use during a time like this!

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