Friday, January 15, 2016

History Harvest at NIU

This semester I will also be working with several colleagues to plan how the University Libraries might enable NIU's History Department to include History Harvest activities in one of its class offerings.

A History Harvest is a collaborative activity in which teams of students and faculty coaches produce digital facsimiles of historical artifacts in community and present them on the web via an online exhibit. 

The idea of a history harvest has been around for a while. I recall that when I was a part-time student worker for the University of Virginia's Valley of the Shadow Project (, some of my colleagues organized one in order to find local historical materials in the two counties featured in the project web site, digitize them, and add them to the project archive.

The harvest usually takes place on a single day, at a single place, where students and faculty members have assembled scanners and other digital technology to ingest materials. Publicizing this event is always an important part of the larger activity, as the number and type of historical artifacts brought in for digitization determine the scope and nature of the students' future work.

In recent years the University of Nebraska, Lincoln has made the History Harvest a part of its curriculum.  For examples of online materials created by UNL teams, see,, and

UNL students have also used History Harvests to produce additional multimedia materials, which are available at

At Nebraska a History Harvest takes the form of a class in which students spend time early in the semester learning about the subject and period they will explore, then move on to organizing the harvest and producing the collections and exhibits drawn from it. 

While we do not intend to produce a stand-alone class around the idea of a History Harvest, we do look forward to working with Northern Illinois University's University Archives and Regional History Center, as well as Dr. Stanley Arnold of the university's history department, to integrate the above activities into one of their present class offerings. 

No comments:

Post a Comment