Digital History Project

Starting next week, you’ll be working on your first of two group projects. You’ll have until noon on Friday 3/3 to work with 2-3 other HIS290 students to create a digital timeline of a relatively narrow topic in history.

You’ll have the weekend of Feb. 25-26 to form a group; it should be set by the time you show up to class on Monday, 2/27, so that you can use that time well. You can work with people you already know in class, or perhaps come together around a topic of shared interest. (I’ve created a shared Google Doc that you can use to find those who share your interests.)

You have a lot of flexibility here in terms of your choice of topic, but your project must follow these guidelines:

  • Use Timeline JS and Google Sheets to create the timeline. (They’re pretty easy to figure out, but we’ll help you learn these tools in class on Monday 2/27.) Once the timeline is ready, send me a link so I can make it available to the rest of the class, and share the Google spreadsheet with me.
  • This timeline should cover no more than 100 years of history. (If you can convince me that your topic requires a longer period, I’m willing to waive this requirement.)
  • It should be focused on a single, well-defined defined topic within a particular historical era. It can be national, or not, but you need to make it narrow enough that your sequence of events does not leave significant holes. (See the Command criterion below.)
  • Your timeline should include 3-4 events per member of your group, plus a title. (On the spreadsheet you use to create the timeline, it should be clear which group member took primary responsibility for designing each event. We’ll explain this on Monday the 27th.)
  • Each event on the timeline should include concise narration that makes clear its significance (probably either for context or causality) and incorporates evidence from relevant primary sources — e.g., as a background image, an embedded video, a quotation from a diary or government document, a link to archived materials, etc. The sources should be cited appropriately, using Turabian’s footnote format.

For most of class on Friday the 3rd, you’ll have time to explore other groups’ timelines. Then you’ll have until 9amnoon on Monday the 6th to complete (a) an evaluation of the other timelines (5 pts, under Course Participation) and (b) to write a 250-word self-evaluation of your own group’s project, using the Command, Collaboration, and Curation criteria below to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your group’s work (10 pts, under Response Papers).


Your project grade (50 pts) will be based on a mix of instructor and peer evaluation, according to the criteria below. There will be a baseline grade for the group, but individual grades could be higher or lower based on the quality of individual events on the timeline. (Or if it becomes clear that an individual was not an effective member of the team.)

Command: From the design of the timeline (topic, periodization, selection of events and sources) and the quality of narration, it should be clear that you are knowledgeable about whatever topic you pick, both specific details and larger significance.  (15 pts)

(I don’t mean this project to require a great deal of research. Ideally, you’ll select a topic and era you already know fairly well — perhaps because you’ve taken a class on it, or it was the subject of your annotated bibliography — with tertiary sources and general works sufficing to fill in any gaps in knowledge. But the narrower the topic, the more likely you are to demonstrate meaningful knowledge.)

Collaboration: One of the objectives for the course is that you develop skill in working as part of a team. For this assignment, that means is that you should not only contribute individual items to the timeline, but help shape the overall direction of the project and take your share of responsibility for ensuring the overall quality of the work. (This might look different depending on your abilities: if you’re handy with technology and software, help troubleshoot any problems with Timeline JS or Sheets; if you’re a good writer and editor, help others proofread their narration or citations; or help others locate primary sources they can integrate with their events.) So long as each member contributes roughly the same number of events on the timeline, I’ll leave it to the group to define any other roles. (10 pts)

Use of Digital Tools: Pretty straightforward — do you know how to use Google Sheets in tandem with Timeline JS to make a digital timeline? Were there errors in the spreadsheet or timeline? (5 pts)

Curation: In order to share this chapter in history, did you effectively organize and present a series of events and sources? Did you collectively curate an array of primary sources (e.g., photographs, maps, audio or film clips, quotations from documents) that worked together to help reconstruct or reanimate the past in the minds of your readers? (20 pts)


4 thoughts on “Digital History Project

  1. Pingback: Video Conversation: Collaboration | Intro to History

  2. Pingback: Finding Primary Sources for Your Digital Project | Intro to History

  3. Pingback: Here They Are: Your Digital Timelines! | Intro to History

  4. Pingback: Response Paper: Digital Project Self-Evaluation | Intro to History

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