Matt Shoemaker is the Director of Digital Collections and Systems at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He has been building the digital collections program at HSP since 2009 and working on implementing and improving systems that allow users to access and discover resources online.
ABA: In a few sentences, tell us what you’ll be presenting at the upcoming meeting.
MS: During the first half of 2012 I worked on a project to incorporate primary sources into board games for history education. I will go over the methods I used for selecting a game, in this case “Settlers of America: Trails to Rails,” finding suitable materials, and creating scenarios for educators to run through the game and use the primary sources in the class room. My goal was to create a replicable method for teachers and archivists to use for encouraging different methods of historical understanding and interpretation. Even if this is something archivists would not use on a daily basis it provides a non-standard use case for archival materials that may help when working with different audiences and research needs.
ABA: What do you hope audiences will get from your talk?
MS: I am hoping the audience will think about other possible uses of archival materials and perhaps even the desire to work with an educator(s) to find sources suitable for a game or even make one of their own.
ABA: What was the most interesting archives-related thing you’ve read or seen recently?
MS:Though not exactly new, I am excited to see what comes out of SNAC, the Social Networks and Archival Context project. I think it could really help push forward use of EAC-CPF and some of the semantic web/linked data functionality that everyone seems to be buzzing about but not doing much with. (project page: http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ )
ABA: On a scale from 1 – 10, (10 being hardest) how easy would it be for other archivists to implement the project you’re presenting here?
MS: I do not think this project fits well to a scale. At the simplest you can be just suggesting resources to an educator to use in their own scenarios or for their students to use on their own. On the other end of the spectrum you do all of the work including finding a game, picking sources and creating the scenarios. Neither of these tasks is difficult but the latter does deal with an archivist’s greatest enemy, time.