Monthly Archives: September 2013

William Pannapacker to speak at THATCamp Harrisburg

The good folks at Messiah College and Harrisburg University are putting on a THATCamp, and I was pleased to see that William Pannapacker of Hope College will join in, Friday, October 25th.  Pannapacker is well known for his regular blogs and column in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and for his advocacy for the Digital Humanities at small colleges. Details are still being worked out, but he will likely have a featured session on Friday morning focusing on the present and future of the Digital Humanities.

William Pannapacker of Hope College was one of the plenary speakers at the inaugural THATCamp Vanderbilt, an “unconference” on the digital humanities. Source: Derek Bruff via flickr

If you have not yet registered and proposed a session or “dorkshort” to feature your project, please do!

THATCamp stands for The Humanities And Technology Camp.  THATCamp Harrisburg is a professional development opportunity for humanities professionals in both academic and non-academic settings. It serves to introduce newcomers to the tools and purposes of the Digital Humanities and give veterans an opportunity to deepen and broaden their skills, and to share them with others.

THATCamp Harrisburg offers opportunities for new conversations and relationships, and contributes to further work in the digital humanities that will benefit the Central Pennsylvania region, as well as the larger community of humanities professionals.

Call for Participation

Proposals we are soliciting

  • Workshops that will teach participants new skills or introduce them to new digital tools.
  • Sessions that will a) discuss topics of interest in the Digital Humanities, b) demonstrate tools, c) create participatory projects.
  • Dorkshorts – short presentations on current projects that participants have under way in the digital humanities.

For a list of sample sessions from other THATCamps, check the “propose” tab on the website:

To propose a workshop, session or dorkshort, register for THATCamp Harrisburg at  Then follow the instructions on the “Propose” tab.

For more information, post a query on the website, or send an email to Peter Kerry Powers, Dean of the Humanities at Messiah College,

Class-sourcing on Soviet Sustainability

Karl Qualls of Dickinson’s History Department reflects on plans to use digital tools in the teaching of Russian history and sustainability (re-blogged with minor edits from Teaching History)

Gleb Tsipursky of Ohio State University has advocated for the value of “class-sourcing,” that is, class assignments where students build websites, Pinterest boards, wikis, blogs, videos, podcasts, and other digital artifacts aimed at informing a broad audience about a specific subject.   In this post I would like to introduce how I have adapted Gleb’s project to my Soviet history course (Russia: Quest for the Modern, History 254) at Dickinson.

Gail Troussoff Marks ('73) and Karl Qualls, associate professor of history at Dickinson College, look over documents that Marks has contributed to the Dickinson archives. source: Dickinson College flickr

Gail Troussoff Marks (’73) and Karl Qualls, associate professor of history at Dickinson College, look over documents that Marks has contributed to the Dickinson archives. source: Dickinson College flickr

Dickinson  College has long been known for fostering global education and study abroad. More recently, we have taken up the call to teach our students and ourselves to be better stewards through the study and practice of sustainability. To this end, many faculty have been creating and reworking, to varying degrees, courses to highlight issues of sustainability in our fields. Given that most definitions of sustainability include not only environmental concerns, but also issues of human rights, access to political and economic power, and maintenance of cultures, the study of the Soviet Union seemed a logical course with which to begin.

Following Gleb’s lead, I have changed assignments in this course from a traditional research paper to a series of projects that will support students’ use of and contribution to our digitized knowledge base. In a series of steps, students will accumulate a bibliography on their topics, modify and annotate the bibliography, collect digitized sources (e.g. films, maps, timelines, photographs, etc.) that will help them tell a story, and then construct a lengthy multimedia blog post that will educate the broader public on their topics. Notes and bibliographies will be collected using Evernote so that students can easily sync their work between tablets and computers. Students will then share these Evernote assignments with classmates for peer review and with the wider world via the Twitter hashtag #h254 (after the course number) and other social media. Final projects will be posted to our blog in December and will be promoted via my Teaching History blog and on various social media outlets.

Updates on the course’s progress will appear every few weeks over on the Teaching History blog, and I’ll provide my thoughts on the pros and cons at each stage. Gleb will be providing his perspective in guest blog posts there as well.

From Russia With Data

Student-faculty research to digitize the Russian-American experience
by Tony Moore
August 27, 2013

A sign outside Gregory Gagarin’s home displays the name of his family’s former estate in Russia. (Photo courtesy of Karl Qualls)

Twenty years from now, when Associate Professor of History Karl Qualls is getting comfortable starting his 34th year at Dickinson and Caitlin Moriarty ’13 has been an alumna for two decades, a project they started this summer might still be going.

“This could be the rest of my career,” Qualls says, without a hint of doubt. The project at hand is nothing less than creating an online repository for the entire Russian-American experience, and it began with just one person: Gregory Gagarin, a Russian prince currently living in Maryland.

In the spring of 2013, Moriarty—who has been abroad to Russia and has studied Russian—curated an archives exhibit called A Family Story: The Troussoff Collection. The exhibit detailed one family’s immigration to the United States during the Russian Revolution nearly 100 years ago. At the exhibit opening, Qualls and Moriarty were standing with Gail Troussoff Marks ’73, a descendant of the Troussoffs and the collection’s donor.

“Gail knew the Gagarins and said [Gregory Gagarin’s] daughter wanted to have someone record his oral history,” recalls Moriarty. This instantly grabbed them both, and before they knew it, Qualls and Moriarty were headed to Maryland to interview Gagarin. After hours of conversation, it became apparent that while Gagarin’s life was big, the project could be much bigger.

“It won’t be just about him,” Qualls explains. “I’m hoping this will lead to more interviews and we’ll create a Web archive of the Russian-American experience.”

The project will bring history into the modern age as a Web-based digitized project, and that aspect will function as the growth engine, eventually churning vast amounts of data.

“Making this a digitized project will be a part of the new move toward digital humanities and opens the project up to Russia,” Qualls says. “If it’s on the Web, it’s there for people in Russia to find. Once there’s a critical mass of things online, people will start coming to us instead of us looking for them.”

The process so far has been eye-opening for both Qualls and Moriarty, and the unfolding cascade of discovery is what Qualls likes best about this sort of research.

“The serendipity is the exciting thing about being a researcher,” he says. “There’s always something else out there. If you talk to the right people, have the right conversations and read the right things, there’s more out there to do than you could ever possibly finish.”

This post originally appeared on the Dickinson College website.