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Sunday, October 30 • 10:30am - 12:00pm
#s5b: Exploring Community through Digital Scholarship

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Digital Storytelling as a Tool to Preserve the History of the Williamsport Black Community
Amy Rogers and Lynn Estomin (Lycoming College)

During the spring 2016 semester, two professors from diverse educational backgrounds, a group of freshmen from all over the United States, and 15 African American community members from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, came together to create a digital archive of stories documenting the history of the Black community of Lycoming County.

Digital storytelling is a specific process combining storytelling with modern-day technology and digital media based on participants’ own experiences and told through their own perspectives. Participants’ voices are recorded and integrated with photographs, letters, home videos, etc. The stories focus on the point of view/voice of the storyteller and value the power of story as a tool for self-discovery and reflection, community building and education, organizing and advocacy.

Through this interactive presentation, we will demonstrate how we used digital storytelling to increase knowledge and understanding of this mainly undocumented community history. The presenters will share the process used in this collaborative project.  We will talk about some of the challenges presented by the project, as well as the successful outcome — the creation of digitalized stories of the life stories of members of the diverse African American community. The final stories were presented at a public screening and will be available to the public through the Lycoming County Historical Society, the Lycoming County Women’s History Collection and the Heart of Williamsport Project.

The presenters will discuss the value of a first year seminar that connects students from Lycoming College to the local community.  The relationships formed between the Lycoming College students and their community members were lifelong partnerships, as shared by a student and her community partner who will share their story as part of our presentation.  The first year seminar course had three main parts — creation of the student’s own digital stories, learning about the history of Lycoming County and its African American community, and the collaborative effort by students and community member teams to create a series of historical stories about the local Black community.   Community members shared photographs, correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, newspaper stories, and in some instances, rare secondary sources and students created 3-5 minute digital stories about some aspect of their partners’ lives and community.

Digitizing Appalachia: Collaborating with Local Institutions and Harnessing Omeka to Capture Southern Appalachia’s Cultural Heritage
Pamela Mitchem and Dea Rice (Appalachian State University)

Appalachian State University is a regional comprehensive university serving over 17,000 students and employing close to 900 faculty. The Carol Grotnes Belk Library and Information Commons endeavors to cultivate an environment where people discover, create and share information that reflects the acquisition of 21st century knowledge and skills. We are active partners in advancing the University’s principles of sustainability, social justice, inclusion, and global citizenship. The library’s newly developed Digital Scholarship and Initiatives (DSI) team began serving the university on July 1, 2015. Our team is dedicated to fostering the creation, dissemination, and preservation of digital scholarship and digital objects.

One of our main initiatives is creating sustainable partnerships with local cultural heritage organizations to build digital collections related to the culture and history of southern Appalachia. Using Omeka, an open source content management software, we are helping our historical societies, museums, local libraries, and school alumni associations to create digital collections of their historical materials. We use Omeka content management software for Appalachian’s Special Collections materials as well. We also helped create the Digital Library of Southern Appalachia Web Portal to promote these collections. Some of our projects include:


  • Blowing Rock History Project—A collaborative project with Blowing Rock Historical Society and Blowing Rock Art & History Museum. DSI provided consultation and training on Omeka software and will be writing a collaborative grant to digitize Blowing Rock related materials.
  • Digital History Class—DSI worked with the history department to provide training to students on Omeka for their Digital History class. These students then created Omeka collections for three local cultural organizations. One of those organizations was Lincoln Heights Recreation Committee. Lincoln Heights is a large Rosenwald school for African Americans in Wilkesboro, NC. Open from 1924-­68, Lincoln Heights educated and employed black southerners through the Jim Crow Era and the height of the 20th-century Civil Rights Movement.
  • Digital Watauga Project—We are collaborating to provide Omeka training and digitization support to the Digital Watauga project, which is funded by Library Services and Technology ACT (LSTA) to digitize historical documents and images donated by community members.


This presentation will present a case study of our collaborations and use of Omeka. We will discuss strategies for partnerships, the challenges and rewards to cultivating these important relationships, and lessons learned in the process. We will also discuss our training module for Omeka.

The Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania: Using Facebook to Document a Community
Jennie Levine Knies (Penn State Wilkes-Barre) and Melissa R. Meade (Temple University)

In 2013, Temple University PhD candidate Melissa R. Meade started a Facebook page for the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, to share and curate material relevant to her community-based ethnographic dissertation project. The page has evolved into a place in which community members meet and gather digitally to reflect upon history, memories, culture, and media of the greater Anthracite Region. While Facebook practically serves as an excellent platform for communication, it is not symbiotic for necessary cataloging, searching, and archiving of information. The Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania is a work in progress with endless possibilities. For this talk, we intend to focus on a description of the Facebook page and community, and discuss our attempts to extract data, our ideas of how we might use that data to further scholarship and understanding of the history of the region, and discuss challenges in bridging these divides.


Andrew Stuhl

Bucknell University


Lynn Estomin

Lycoming College

Jennie Knies

Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Melissa Meade

Temple University

Pamela Mitchem

Appalachian State University
avatar for Dea Rice

Dea Rice

Digital Projects Librarian, Appalachian State University

Amy Rogers

Lycoming College

Sunday October 30, 2016 10:30am - 12:00pm
Room 241 2nd Floor, ELC

Attendees (30)