There are many ways to “publish” in today’s multi-media world. At this site, we would like to offer students of any age a chance to publish digital projects about Lincoln’s writings. Here are some examples of what we have in mind, but don’t let our experiments limit your creativity. We invite all the Contributing Editors who are currently participating in the “Understanding Lincoln” course to submit projects for our consideration through the assignment upload feature at the Gilder Lehrman online syllabus page (restricted access). And for those of you are not registered in this course, please stay tuned. We plan to offer other opportunities for contributors down the road.
Google Maps is a powerful map-building tool –not just a way to get driving directions. Dickinson College students Russ Allen (’14) and Leah Miller (’14) have created a custom-made Google map of Lincoln’s Writings, one that includes a timeline bar on the left column and customized placemarks with images, text excerpts and links to all of the 150 most teachable Lincoln documents featured at this site. The House Divided Project has also posted tutorials on how to create your own custom-made Google Map.
View Lincoln’s Writings in a larger map
Other maps useful for this site include:
- “Tardy George McClellan and Abraham Lincoln,” by Brian Elsner
Podcasts are audio recordings shared via digital files through services such as Soundcloud. They can become a great teaching or presentation tool –especially for those who are camera shy or suffer from a little stage fright. Leah Miller (Dickinson College, Class of 2014) offers an intriguing twist on the podcast by creating a close reading of a Lincoln document that weaves quotations from that document in Lincoln’s own voice (created through an earlier podcast by theatre professor Todd Wronski). The combination of the two voices produces an engaging audio close reading and offers a model for those who might not want to leap into video. To help explain how this mashed up podcast can be organized, Leah Miller has also provided a video tutorial for Audacity, which is a free audio editing tool available online.
Other useful podcasts from our Contributing Editors include:
Prezi is a popular online digital tool with free features, one that resembles PowerPoint but offers a host of enhancements that can make for some truly compelling presentations. Leah Miller (Dickinson College, ’14) demonstrates here how Prezi can turn a period image of Lincoln as an emancipator into a sophisticated tool for learning about his evolving views on race and slavery. To learn how to build your own Prezi, please check out this video tutorial that Leah created as well to support her project.
Storify is a free digital story-making tool that allows users to curate or organize information on the web. In this engaging example, Leah Miller (Dickinson College, ’14) offers a version of the classic question, “Was Lincoln the Great Emancipator?” Leah has also created a video tutorial to help those who might be new to Storify’s powerful tool.
There are many useful timeline generators available on the web, but we have found an open source called Timeline JS that seems to combine a high degree of visual appeal with easy-to-use content features. Leah Miller (Dickinson College, Class of 2014) has created an example of the timeline’s features, using documents from the Lincoln’s Writings site that contain the word “slavery.”
It seems that with today’s technology almost anybody can aspire to become popular documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. In fact, some of the most popular movie-making software actually has a feature called the “Ken Burns Effect.” We hope all contributing editors to this site will at least attempt to create their own videotaped close readings of the Lincoln documents contained here –especially from the 125 Lincoln documents that we have not yet “taped” –if not exactly a full-fledged documentary. You can view all 25 of the short videos that Matthew Pinsker and Lance Warren created for the featured Lincoln documents here at this Vimeo album. If you want to see how good, self-produced student versions of the videotaped close reading might look, please check out this example from intern Russ Allen or this one from fellow intern Leah Miller. Dickinson College students Russ Allen (’14) and Leah Miller (’14) have also created video tutorials on two of the leading movie-making programs (which are packaged freely with their respective operating systems), Microsoft’s Moviemaker and Apple’s iMovie.
It is easier than ever to create and maintain your own website. Some of the most popular ways to do so involve using free, open source blogging platforms, such as WordPress, and then adapting them to your particular web needs. That’s exactly how we’ve built the Lincoln’s Writings site, and we would recommend this platform to any student or educator looking to create a vehicle for showcasing several digital tools at once. Here is a good example of a student-produced, WordPress designed website on a Civil War topic from Dickinson College undergraduate Taylor Bye (Class of 2012). Taylor built the site –dedicated to the story of Susan B. Anthony’s remarkable brother, Daniel– over the course of a semester. The site, Daniel Anthony of Kansas also features a number of digital tools highlighted elsewhere in this Project Gallery.
There are several good free word cloud generators online, including Wordle and Tagxedo. Word clouds are graphic representations of word frequency within a given text and can be used to offer students a quick visualization of what key words or phrases are important in a document. We have created some clickable word clouds for Lincoln’s Writings (which means the images have been “mapped” using HTML code and thus clicking on the words in the cloud will lead to excerpts and full text from the documents). But a group of teachers in summer 2012 who participated in the Civil War & Reconstruction Online seminar have produced some creative and engaging word clouds that offer concrete teaching ideas. See also Brian Elsner’s revealing word art on the Lincoln/McClellan letters. Dickinson College student Russ Allen (’14) has also produced two video tutorials showing some best practices for using Wordle and Tagxedo in ways that might integrate documents from the Lincoln’s Writings site.