Cheiron Workshop: “Archives, Repositories, Websites, Blogs, Exhibits, Oh My! Digitization Considerations and Conceptualizations”

The 47th Annual Meeting of Cheiron, the International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, just wrapped up at the University of Kansas. On the final day of the meeting we presented the workshop “Archives, Repositories, Websites, Blogs, Exhibits, Oh My! Digitization Considerations and Conceptualizations.” The workshop drew on our joint experiences with three different web-based history of psychology projects:

Logo_Full_HighPsychology’s Feminist Voices, a Multimedia Digital Archive,


Remembering Oak Ridge, a Digital Archive and Exhibit,


and this blog, Advances in the History of Psychology.

This post is an extension of that presentation, where we discussed some of the many considerations associated with digital projects. These kinds of projects – be they blogs, exhibits, archives, podcasts, etc. – straddle the boundaries of traditional historical scholarship and the burgeoning field of digital humanities. They can provide valuable material for researchers, act as resources for educators and students, or comprise a complete research project in their own right. Some projects even manage to serve all these roles.

There are, of course, more issues related to digital projects than we could ever hope to address in a 50 minute conference workshop or even a slightly-expanded blog post. Our aim, however, was to provide those interested in undertaking digital projects with some of the tools and resources needed for success – and, given the digital focus of the discussion, it seemed only natural to share this content online as well.

To help guide our discussion, we proposed a fictitious example: a forthcoming digital project on Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiments. Below are 8 talking points from the workshop and associated issues, as well as our accompanying Prezi presentation. A list of resources, slightly expanded from the handout circulated to our audience members, is also provided below.

If you have any questions or resources of your own to share, please leave us a comment!

Archives, Repositories, Websites, Blogs, Exhibits, Oh My!
Digitization Considerations and Conceptualizations


1. What kind of project are you undertaking?

  • Blog, Website, Exhibit, Podcast, Archive, Documentaries, Oral History, Etc.


  • What is the aim of the project?
  • Who’s your audience?
  • Will it be a short or long term project?
  • Plan, plan, plan, and then plan some more!

2. Who’s in charge of the project? Who owns everything?

  • Will the project be run by you alone or do you have collaborators?
    • names on the paperwork (future rights vs. current needs)
  • Will it be single or multi-sited? International in scope?
  • Will the project ever change hands?
  • Who trains? gathers? inputs? designs? maintains?

3. What materials can you use in the project?

  • e.g., photos, video, articles, letters, podcasts, maps, transcripts, etc.
  • What kind of original content could you create?
    • e.g., interviews? documentaries? photographs? profiles?
    • if living participants, what happens when their story changes?

 4. What kind of technical concerns will you have?

  • Hardware
    • microphones, cameras, scanners, servers
  • Software
    • open source (Omeka, WordPress, etc.), custom systems, etc.
  • Storage
    • free or paid, size, permanency, security, access, compatibility, stability
    • can your choice grow with your project?
  • Web hosting
    • institutional or outside hosting
    • what happens when the technology changes?
  • Dependency on others’ content on the web
    • broken links, lost embedded materials, etc.
  • Consider consulting archival or technology experts in the early planning stages

 5. Who is paying for all this? And for how long?

  • Free projects vs. projects with grants (and what to do when that grant runs out)
    • who will give you $ to fund this and for how long
  • Technology costs (annual vs. begining/redesign)
    • software, hardware, hosting, storage, maintenance, design, domain name, etc.
  • Permissions
    • to use materials, to be associated with other projects/systems
  • Human labor
    • your time, wages for others, etc.
  • Branding
    • logos, etc.

 6. Are there any legal, ethical, or moral concerns about the project?

  • Copyright
    • for materials used on site, materials created, copyright of project itself, etc.
  • Ways around copyright
    • embed existing YouTube videos, link to other sites, embed images from other sites, etc.
  • Privacy issues
    • oral history ownership, patient/participant anonymity
    • 3rd parties and living liabilities
  • Permissions
    • to post materials online, to link to other sites, etc.
    • to hand over materials to other repositories
    • from participants to the researcher and project to public domain
    • from interviewee to interviewer to project to public domain
  • Regulations for others’ use of materials on your site/project
    • fees, restrictions, publishers rights
  • Restricted materials
    • giving access to the public vs. access for researchers
  • Post a disclaimer on your site (if provocative material)

 7. How can you market your project?

  • Social media – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.
    • make it easy if possible – automatic postings with Buffer, WordPress Plugins, etc.
    • network on social media with other scholars/projects
  • Other: listservs, News & Notes sections, RSS feeds, other blogs, articles, conferences presentations, etc
  • Branded products
    • swag (posters, post-its, tote bags, postcards, etc.)
  • Tip: know and optimize your audience
    • Google Analytics – who’s visiting, from where, for how long
    • Google Webmaster Tools – how Google indexes your site and ways to increase traffic

8. When will the project end?

  • How do you sustain and/or preserve the project?
  • “what happens if you’re hit by a bus”
    • plan for multi-user access at all levels.
    • predetermine what happens to the materials, site, etc.
    • can or should the project continue without you?
  • long-term sustainability of small scale, low commitment projects
    • consider collaboration
    • pass the project onto someone else
  • Plan for the project’s end and/or continuous ability to change (and be funded)

Take Home Points

  1. Plan, plan, plan
  2. Make it feasible
  3. Have fun!
  4. And don’t forget… archive your work somewhere!


Recommended Resources

Open-source platforms


  • Open source content management platform (optimum for mid-size projects)


  • Open source framework for larger collaborative projects

Omeka – to host on your own server / for (limited) online hosting

  • Web-publishing platform specializing in digital collections and exhibits


  • Web-hosting platform that supports both blogs and static pages


  • Open source collaborative for projects showcasing research with minimal preservation of primary materials. [Collaborative work flows between researchers]

Collective Access

  • Open source platform for publishing museum and archival collections


Technical Considerations

Copyright Advisory Network (US)

  • Collection of tools related to questions of copyright

Oral History in the Digital Age

  • Resource listing best practices, formatting, tagging, transcribing, and preservation discussion related to oral history

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

  • Standardized metadata design and practices

The National Archives Digital Preservation Guidance Notes

  • Notes on preservation and management of electronic records

Library of Congress Digital Preservation

  • Valuable resources for beginners and experts.
  • design, sustainability recommendations, formating, accessibility

Tesseract OCR engine

  • More reliable than Adobe OCR and commonly used with historical documents Developer Resources

  • Meta-data development, digital readers, API and RSS development



Social Media Supports


  • Schedule posts to social media outlets and features associated analytics

Google Analytics

  • Tracks how many people visit your site and when

Google Webmaster Tools

  • Check how Google indexes your site and optimize its visibility in searches