It’s taking shape!

My final site is starting to take shape. I did some very scientific user testing. Ok really, I had my roommate take a look and play around on the site. But she said it’s very easy to figure out and she liked the look of it. YAY!

I’m pretty proud of the structure I have, especially for the translated letters. On the pages with the letters, I have a side bar that lists the letters in chronological date. I have a lot more to do like add captions to photos, allow users to click on a photo to make it better, add footnotes, etc. But as I’m presenting tomorrow night, the little edits will have to wait.

The one thing I’m still considering is how much analysis I give to the translated letters. At this point, I’m leaning towards simply posting the letters and allowing users to make their own connections. Thoughts?

I commented on Danielle’s blog.

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Initial Design Page

My design page can be found here.

I worked a good bit on other pages of my site. But I had a major setback when I went to upload the site. Nothing showed up. I tried a variety of different things. I’m still not sure what went wrong. I decided to start over and copy and paste much of the CSS and HTML that I had already created into a new site that is really just my home page. Fortunately…8th time’s a charm? It’s up.

I’ll have to do some more trouble shooting (or copy and pasting) to see what happened with my other work.

Anyone else have this happen to them?

I commented on Tamara’s and Pearl‘s post.

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Photoshop ills and survey potential

I spent some time working on my site set-up this week. Photoshop skills still elude me. I’m trying to make a header with two images blended or gradiented together. But despite watching several tutorials (all of which have way different advice) my final product still looks like two pictures next to each other. And it took me an embarrassingly long time to even get this. Sighh…

Dresden, zerstˆrtes Stadtzentrum

Any thoughts on a way to accomplish this?

I watched the tutorial on the polls and surveys and I actually think I could add a survey that would add to the “interactiveness” of my final project. I would love to provide a space where visitors could discuss their experiences after WWII, particularly if they sent or were the recipients of CARE packages. I could create a page where survey responses could be posted to further the interpretation of this story. Surprisingly there is little scholarship of the impact of this program. Most postwar aid scholarship looks at the government run Marshall Program or the Truman Doctrine. CARE was a collaboration of 22 private American aid agencies. This changing space could also increase visitor motivation to return to the site.



I commented on Josh’s blog.

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Hand Coloring and Vignetting

I’m getting the hang of this Photoshop stuff!

So far I have been focusing on hand-coloring a photo. I vignetted it as well and I like how the two techniques really make the subject stand out.

Here’s the original. I chose a photo of the young German girl to whom my great-grandfather sent packages. I would say she’s probably about 7 years old here.


Here’s the after:


I used the lasso tool to select the pieces I wanted to color and then used hue/saturation to color them. I’m not sure what happened on the bottom of the dress. I couldn’t fix it but decided not to sweat the small stuff. I first tried to color using the paintbrush tool, but I found the other technique to have a more realistic look. The lasso tool seems to pick up the shading in the folds of the dress better than the paintbrush. I also decided to keep the background in black and white because I liked the way she stands out.

I’m still working on the other techniques. But I feel accomplished having gotten this far!

I commented on Jenna’s and Tammy’s blogs.


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I left last class feeling pretty good about Photoshop and excited to use a new tool. I’m sure when I go back in to meddle with some images for next week’s assignments, I will still find that I have a long way to go before feeling fully competent with it. Thank goodness for the various tutorials posted online and through the Lynda site.

Between the readings like the Case of the Inappropriate Clock and working ourselves on an image, I have realized how easy it is to distort and “fake” photographs or even how important it is to crop photos to draw attention to certain parts of them. I never really considered staging a photograph to be a fake, but Errol Morris made a really good case about some of the most famous Depression-era photographs.

In other news, I’ve finally been getting some translations back for these German letters that I will be digitizing on my web site. I truly had no idea what they might contain and was nervous that they would be filled with casual, every day ephemera that wasn’t that interesting. Thankfully, in just two of the fifteen letters, the writer, an adult German woman who lost her husband in the Battle of Stalingrad, includes observations about her post-war life. I’m excited to see what else the letters contain. I’m waiting on the various German speakers that I begged favors from!

Here are two excerpts I have so far.

“As refugees we are longingly thinking of our loved ones resting in the cemeteries of the hometowns we have left behind. But God’s grace shines even on the most desolate graves. I wonder where my dear husband is laid to rest. Where in the vast countryside of Russia did he find his eternal sleep? I would love to put some flowers on his grave but I will never be able to visit it.  I often think that God is looking after the millions of unattended, ignored veteran graves in this world.”

– Nov. 26, 1950

“It doesn’t look good for my parents to come visit us this year. Most likely they won’t be able to get an inter-sector travel permit to leave East Berlin. It is doubtful that we could go visit them because the situation is very critical at the moment. Why do the Russians always cause problems? It is very sad particularly, since the youth in the Russian Sector is raised under communist rule. These young people don’t know the truth and believe everything the Communist Party is telling them. It is very hard for us in the West to watch – knowing that there is nothing we can do about it.

What is your opinion on this? For my part, I am convinced that Communism will implode in itself one day. May God help us to get rid of the “bad things” in the world!”

– June 14, 1952

I commented on Jenna’s blog.

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Digital History musings

Last weekend I presented a paper at the Virginia Forum in Williamsburg, VA. The Forum is for scholars of Virginia history. I was really impressed by some of the digital history being performed in our state and thought I would share a few things I got to see.

The Library of Virginia presented several really awesome projects. (I swear they are not paying me to write this post!)One was their crowdsourcing transcription project, Making History – Transcribe. LVA is not the only institution doing this but I do like their set-up. The library has made much of their collection digital but it’s not yet OCRed or in English, machine readable or searchable. That’s where the public volunteers come in. Anyone with an internet connection (and some time and passion) is able to view a digitized document and transcribe it. Once this is submitted it is reviewed by library staff and then added back to the library’s digital and searchable databases. The end result is more of the library’s archives are available online and in much more useful forms than PDFs or JPEGs.

Another project is their Civil War 150 Legacy Project. Staff from the library visited nearly every county in the commonwealth and held “scan-a-thons” where locals brought any Civil War related documents, diaries, photos, muster rolls, etc. to be scanned for the library’s holdings. Many of these items were things people had in their attics that researchers might never find.

Lastly, the library is doing some cool stuff to aid research of African- Americans in Virginia especially prior to emancipation. The Virginia Untold project compiles 6,000 records that slaves or freed blacks typically appeared in. These include coroner’s inquisitions, cohabitation registers, deeds of emancipation, and petitions to remain in the commonwealth.

Virginia Untold BannerThis project is especially useful to genealogists and scholars trying to track slaves through the historic record, a daunting task due to the nature of slavery. What’s even more dynamic and unique about this project is that the library has made their collections data public. You can, for example, download a CSV file of all of the deeds of emancipation made in Virginia. This has the potential for some really cool scholarship. (at least it does if you know how to manipulate data and create visualizations!)

The last project I got to see came out of VCU. The Freedom Now Project uses Flickr to display images from the VCU archive of Farmville, VA 1963 civil rights protests. It asked the public to identify the people in the pictures and provide context behind the image. Since its inception in 2014 the project has identified nearly 80 people who participated in the protests.

I found all of these projects to be a timely reminder of the possibilities of digital history  and the force of an interested and engaged public.

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Dingbats and Color Palettes

I spent some time finishing the site from last class. I’m pretty excited that I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the HTML and CSS basics. A huge thank you to Mark and Pearl for sharing their tips with the class.

I decided to play with the colors for the site and change the color palette using one of the tools from this week’s readings.

I used Mudcube Colour Sphere by starting with a color I liked and building a palette around it. I was really excited that these tools exist because I am constantly second guessing myself when it comes to color schemes and need some help to determine if colors really go well together.

I figured out how to get a dingbat into the subheadings though I’m not sure how to keep the dingbat one color and the font another. (Also, I just can’t type dingbat with a straight face.)


I commented on Lacey’s post.

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Another reason to love Google?

My type project

I wrote last week about how much I really liked as a place to grab fonts. However, for my typography page, I ended up using Google fonts. I ended up really liking 2 fonts I found through Google and I found the system to use their fonts very simple.

One hiccup I did encounter was easily fixed. I used Google’s instructions to add the code to the ” head” of the html on Dreamweaver by copying and pasting.

link href=’’ rel=’stylesheet’ type=’text/css’

When I first put this in, I kept getting errors from Dreamweaver. After some troubleshooting, I realized all you have to do to fix this is replace all of the single quotes with  double quotes and the problem is solved.

It should read:

link href= rel=stylesheet type=text/css

Overall, I found adding different fonts this way very easy. The other parts of HTML and CSS are not as simple and I’m still struggling a little to get everything do as I want.

I commented on Pearl’s and Jenna’s blogs.


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Font Inspiration

First off a big thanks to Kim who commented on Josh’s post about the site as a place to go to download free fonts. What I liked about the site was the different categories you could search through. I searched a lot of 1940s, World War, and Army tags to find two that I might use.

My final project will discuss the condition of Europe in the aftermath of WWII and the aid that the C.A.R.E. organization provided to struggling European. I began to pull images to use as inspiration for choosing a font. I want a font that will evoke the WWII propaganda posters and the C.A.R.E boxes themselves.

Here’s my inspiration board:

Pearl Harbor
Still from U.S. Navy newsreel about the bombing of Pearl Harbor

File:We Can Do It!.jpg

When You Ride Alone You Ride With Hitler Join A Car-Sharing Club Today





I found a couple that I liked, though I don’t think I’m completely happy with them.

What’s your inspiration?

I commented on Lacey’s blog.

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Typography and My Portfolio

My Portfolio

Thoughts on Typography

I have never consciously considered the font of a webpage, paper, etc. in very much detail. I have fonts that I like and fonts that I dislike but in general my papers are written in Times New Roman, emails in Cambria and hand-outs for my 8th grade students in Calibri. When I’m feeling generous I might use Comic Sans. They are 8th graders after all.

I was blown away by the Errol Morris article, especially the anecdote about the student who got A’s on all of his papers written in Georgia. I began to thing about when I grade things for my students. It occurred to me that I do tend to have a moment of annoyance when they use “cute” or ridiculous fonts. Don’t even get me started on when they use every color of the rainbow or turn the background of their documents different colors.

Robin Williams’s Non-Designer’s Design Book also gave me much to think about. Websites are inherently visually based and it seems to me that the visuals on the page must be almost if not more appealing than the content of the website in order for a visitor to spend any time clicking through the information.

Writing a Website from Scratch

With that in mind, I began to code my portfolio page. I am frustrated that my lack of skills prevents me from creating a truly dynamic and visually engaging page, at least right now. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get the very simple page that I do have. I spent a lot of time at and googling random tags of code to see what I needed to do. Most of my issues revolved around where things ended up. I tried to remember that the CSS page is where much of that magic happens but despite my best efforts, I could not for the life of me get my header to put my picture on the left and the title on the right.


I commented on Pearl’s blog.


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