A combination of traditional and modern data collection techniques were used to collect and disseminate information via this website. It was essential to use as many low-cost software platforms due to budget constraints. In addition to making this website accessible to a wide audience, it was important to be completely transparent with the software, methods, and concepts employed to make this project a reality. We wanted to be able to show others what and how the project was executed so that it can be replicated elsewhere. The result was an attractive website created through an easily replicable system that can be reproduced and improved upon by others.
Archival Research Methods
The River Street Neighborhood is a small portion of the City of Boise, which made it easier to target the archival research. Most archival research focused on certain keywords; specifically, neighborhood landmarks, such as Riverside Park, street names, buildings, historical residents, and variations of the term “River Street Neighborhood”. Online searches for these keywords mostly revealed urban renewal documents at Boise libraries. At archives and in special collections, these keywords led to the discovery of maps, photographs, and newspaper articles.
Documents from both public and private collections were used on this site. Resources were sought at the Albertsons Library at Boise State University, the Boise Public Library, the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and Idaho State Historical Society Archives in Boise. Additional photographs and documents were generously provided by Lee Rice, II and Pam Demo. Oral history interviews were recorded at the Idaho Black History Museum in Boise or at sites determined by the interviewee.
The majority of this data had to be digitized in order to be displayed on the website. Archival documents were scanned with a flatbed scanner at 300dpi. Maps were scanned on a larger, high-resolution flatbed scanner. Photos and maps were converted into Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG) files for the website and Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) files for use in ArcGIS. Photographs and video of the River Street Neighborhood were taken with a Nikon D5300 DSLR with an external shotgun microphone and with an iPhone 4s. In some instances, digital photographs of some articles and documents were taken with the Nikon DSLR or the iPhone. Filtered video was taken on the iPhone using the 8mm app.
Oral history interviews were recorded with a Tascam DR-05 or similar quality recorder at 16-bit resolution. The resulting files were edited with Audacity.
Graphics and photos used on the website were generally edited using a variety of software. The original scans of the maps were, generally, too large for uploading to the website and were resized using Microsoft Paint or Pixlr.com. Photos that had been scanned as PDFs were edited and converted to JPGs using Microsoft Paint. Other graphics for the website and videos were created using pixlr.com or ipiccy.com.
Maps of the River Street Neighborhood were created using ArcGIS 10.1 and were projected in WGS84, Zone 11, which is the same projection used in Google Earth. In order to get an idea of how the geography of the River Street Neighborhood changed over time, sections of the scanned maps were turned into TIFFs and were georectified as well as possible. The georectified files were turned into georeferenced TIFF format (geoTIFF) with 300dpi. Those geoTIFFs were exported as both Keyhole Markup Language (KML) layers so that they could be added to the website.
The geoTIFFs were also converted back to TIFFs and sequentially inserted into Microsoft PowerPoint in order to simulate a time-lapsed video of the geographic change in the neighborhood. This video was recorded as a Windows Media Video (WMV) file and edited with Microsoft Windows Movie Maker.
Videos and screencasts were also created and edited using a variety of means. The introduction video was created by inserting photographs and video snippets into Animoto, which added and automated the transition graphics to create an attractive result. Other videos were created using Windows Movie Maker out of WMV or QuickTime (MOV) video files. The time-lapse map video and screencast were originally created in PowerPoint and saved as WMV files that were later edited in Movie Maker. The screencast was recorded using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). Additional audio for the videos was recorded through OBS using a Logitech ClearChat stereo headset.
The eBook draft documenting the River Street Digital History Project was created using a combination of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. The final draft was professionally edited and produced using Adobe InDesign. CreateSpace was used to publish paper copies of this book.
The River Street Digital History Project website was created on WordPress.org and hosted with Bluehost. The Customizr template was used to format and display the website’s materials.
Nearly all of the software used to create this site was free or inexpensive. The expensive parts were covered by the Boise City Department of Arts and History grant. It can be used as an example of how digital history can be done on a grass roots scale with near-professional results.
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