Towards the beginning of our experience, we had a lot of workshops, readings, self-guided activities, and readings that were meant to give us an introduction to archives and to get us thinking about what digital humanities was all about. But after doing all these activities, the way I view how history is recorded has changed. I’ve learned to look at things from a more critical standpoint, questioning: who’s recording this history, who’s stories are we hearing and who’s stories are we not hearing? How can we make sure we can tell history from a variety of perspectives?
There is so much that goes into research and archives, including finding sources, determining the best way to catalogue these sources, providing metadata, thinking about the language used in these sources and how we used it, and maintenance. When we come to Amherst, we’re all told to use the library as a resource and that there are many staff members dedicated to helping us with our work, whether it’s for research or for classes. But I still think that very few students actually explore all that the library has to offer during their time at Amherst, or even realize that the library what the library can do for them.
Our project dealing with the disasters that have occurred at Amherst has been a valuable opportunity to explore the rich history of the college. After experiencing such a drastic change in lifestyle due to the pandemic, it was particularly interesting to look at how previous students have responded to disasters. Applying text analysis and data visualization to the sources we found was also gratifying. Being able to apply the information we found to make analyses and inferences, and then transfer that knowledge onto a WordPress site we designed was fulfilling. Just being able to navigate through the site and see all the work that everyone has accomplished is very satisfying. I hope to be able to use the skills I learned and practice in these six weeks in other academic contexts. Whether it is in research in other courses, or for personal projects, the tools we used are applicable and useful in a variety of settings.