Monday, September 15, 2014

Recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 annually in celebration of the contributions made by American citizens whose ancestors hail from Spain, Mexico, and the rest of the Latin American world.

Begun in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, the observance was expanded to a month long observation by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The day of September 15 is significant as the day of independence for several Latin American nations. Mexico also celebrates its independence on September 16.

In 2013, UM professors Eric Vaccarella and Jason Cooper wrote a successful application for funding from the IL|UMinate grant program. Administered by the Office of the Quality Enhancement Program (QEP,) the IL|UMinate initiative is a competitive funding program that is used to support the goals of information literacy in coursework across the campus.

This year, the library is pleased to display the result of this grant: a bookshelf of 30 titles, which will support teaching and learning about the Day of the Dead tradition, as well as other aspects of Mexican and Latin American culture. The complete list of resources may be viewed on our Day of the Dead Bibliography list in WorldCat Local.

We invite our students and faculty to join us in recognizing a rich cultural tradition, as well as the creative and intellectual contributions of Latin Americans living in the United States and abroad.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


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Monday, July 14, 2014

Resources for July 15 Primary Runoff Elections

Alabamians will have another opportunity to head to polls tomorrow Tuesday, July 15. Light turnout is expected, but there are several state Senate and House primary contests that need to be decided. Locally, voters must choose between two GOP candidates running for the U.S. House Sixth District seat, which will be vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus next year.

Alabama Votes website
Alabama Votes website
Voters have a variety of tools for researching candidates, as well as easy-to-use online tools to check registration status and polling places. Alabama Votes, which is a service of the office of Secretary of State provides a registration lookup form, as well as a polling place search. These tools are especially helpful for verifying your state House and Senate district. Also available at this site is detailed information on recently-enacted voter ID laws. (While most voters will show their driver's license at the poll, you may be interested to know that your UMID is a valid form of identification for Montevallo students and employees.)

Other Useful Sites for Voters:

Sponsored by the nonpartisan Lucy Burns Institute, Ballotpedia has detailed coverage of elections at all levels. The site has an impressive and detailed entry on the so-called Cotton Amendment, which is the only ballot initiative that will appear across the state on this Election Day.

Project Vote Smart is an excellent site for researching candidates and elected officials. The site includes candidates' voting records, biographical data, issue positions, campaign finance records, and more. Voters in our state may be interested in a page dedicated to tomorrow's legislative primary runoff elections.


Lastly, Vote411 is a vital resource for information on state election laws. A project of the League of Women Voters Education Fund, the site also contains an online voters' guide with a ballot building tool.

Be sure to head to the polls tomorrow and make your voice heard!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Restructuring History Education, at All Levels

Screeds warning students about the impracticality of graduate education in the humanities are a dime a dozen. But maybe it's not the education itself that is the problem, but instead the way that said education is structured. For a long time, leading professional organizations like the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Historical Association (AHA) have watched profound changes in the academy take place, yet they have not done anything substantial to revise what graduate education looks like.

A character sketch from the 1943 College Night Production Materials, which are housed in the Annie E. Crawford Milner Archives. This item was digitized by Taylor Kerr in HIST 411 Digital History.

Finally, it seems, that's not the case anymore. As was discussed on the most recent episode of the Digital Campus podcast, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the AHA a $1.6 million grant to assist four prominent history departments as they restructure their doctoral programs. The AHA has recognized that the process of educating people to conduct research and teach in universities across the country is not sustainable. The problem isn't just that people who study history aren't getting jobs. It's much greater than that. Instead, the technological developments and rise in digital culture has transformed the acts of producing and consuming history (for more on this, see N. Katherine Hayles's How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis). Now, "producing history" requires a vastly expanded array of digital literacies and information seeking skills.

This is why the Mellon Foundation awarded the grant to the AHA, which will in turn fund four programs: UCLA, Columbia University, University of Chicago, and University of New Mexico. According to James Grossman, executive director of the AHA, the grant will help create curricula that train doctoral students to find employment in business, government, and the nonprofit world, thus "widening the presence and influence of humanistic thinking" outside of academe.

So what would such revised curricula look like? Examples include:
  • New "clinic" courses to examine how history intersects with public organizations
  • Training with digital tools for work in archives, libraries, and museums
  • Project development that is policy-oriented and reaches out to the public
  • Work with presentation strategies that are more common outside of higher education
At the University of Montevallo, we believe that this revised educational model should begin at the undergraduate level. In the past year, several history classes have developed with national trends in mind and have begin to implement digital history methods into the classroom experience. Robert Barone has facilitated successful archive projects on The History of Ireland and Medieval European History. John Bawden has taught an upper-level course in producing digital history. That class worked on a digital archive that produced collections associated with our archives. Similarly, Carey Heatherly is in the process of teaching a class on Oral History in which students interview members of the campus community and create digital records of those interviews.

We hope that students will gain skills that transfer to many contexts, not just graduate school in the humanities. Further, we hope that their work will lead to an increased body of knowledge produced by the university. Take some time today to visit the library for our History Day event, and while you're here, check out some of these digital projects.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reflection on Archiving Irish History

This semester, students in Robert Barone's HIST 411/511 seminar have been studying the History of Ireland and have created a digital archive of items pertaining to Ireland's history. The final result is an Omeka site, The History of Ireland, which features pictures, videos, primary source documents, and other items related to the political and social life of Ireland.

Students from the class will present their digital exhibits in the J.A. Brown Room in the Carmichael library tomorrow, April 15 from 6-7 PM. The presentation will also include a roundtable discussion on the process of digitizing historical objects and creating digital history exhibits with Omeka. Some of the questions we'll consider include:
  • What is the value of doing Digital History as opposed to doing traditional forms of historical research? 
  • What kind of research did you do to create items on the Omeka archive? How did it compare to the historical research you've done? 
  • What are some difficulties you had with completing the Omeka project? What do you wish we could've done differently? 
  • What other or future uses do you see a tool like Omeka serving? Can you think of any examples on campus? 
 If you're interested in digital history methods and and would like to know more about this process, please join us for the discussion. Anyone is welcome to attend. Light refreshments served.