Monday, June 1, 2015

UNO Gets $56,000 Public History Grant from Board of Regents

The University of New Orleans Department of History has received a $56,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to enhance its ability to teach public history through digital techniques. The funds will allow the department to update its technology and use the new equipment to work on three public history projects.

“The history profession has gone through a substantial change, if not transformation, in the last two decades,” said Robert Dupont, associate professor of history and the grant’s principal investigator. “There is an increased interest in public history, which is less about individual publishing and more about the dissemination of historical knowledge to the public at large. This emphasis draws on traditional history, but also utilizes digital technology to enhance storytelling and education.”

The grant will pay for computers with digital editing software, lighting and sound equipment for oral histories, a large-scale printer for public history displays and a microfilm scanner to create digital files from microfilm.

Faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students will also undertake three projects:

  • Expanding www.neworleanshistorical.org, a web and mobile platform for sharing stories and scholarship about New Orleans history;
  • Participating in a multi-university collaboration to digitize newspaper entries documenting runaway slave advertisements; and
  • Contributing to an encyclopedia of New Orleans, compiled in anticipation of the City of New Orleans’ 300th anniversary in 2018.

The projects will be led by history faculty members Mary Niall Mitchell, James Mokhiber and Connie Atkinson.

“Interest in museum studies, cultural tourism, digital capacities and the democratization of cultural production have combined to produce not only new requirements for history teaching and research, but also new employment opportunities for graduates,” Dupont said. “Departments of history can no longer restrict instruction to documents and archival research. In addition, policymakers at all levels expect a closer connection between instruction and employment skills.”