This past week, I worked primarily on research and object preparation. I have been editing the pictures I took at Fort Sackville in Indiana and adding them to my Omeka site. After visiting the site in person and taking a lot of photographs, it has been challenging to decide which images will really be an asset to my project. I have been fighting the urge to add them all! But instead, I have been trying to critically evaluate each image, asking myself what story the image tells and if the image really adds anything to the textual information. I want this to be an engaging historical online site that presents various perspectives of the events surrounding Fort Sackville — not a travelogue of my trip to Vincennes, Indiana.
I have also been trying to balance primary source research (journals and documents that will be helpful for finding quotes for use in my project) and secondary source research (which provide background information). At first, I dove head first into the field journals and diaries, thinking that this would be the best way to get first-person perspectives on this event. Since I believed that these sources will really provide the real meat of my exhibit, I was excited to get to them. But once I started reading through them, I realized that I needed to do a little bit more background research in order to put these first-person perspectives into the context of the time period and geographic location. Since then, I have been reading books such as American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State, by Stephen Aron. This book has been extremely helpful in helping me understand in fuller detail, the origins of the conflict between American Indians and the various European empires, such as France, Great Britain, Spain and the United States. It helped my understand why so many American Indians sided with the British during the American Revolution and why the French habitants at Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Sackville were so wary of the Americans (like Clark).
In addition, as I get a clearer sense of what information is available, I have also been considering changing my organizational and navigational strategy. Right now, my exhibit is set up in five sections (Prelude, Expedition, Arrival, Siege, and Aftermath). Each section has a main page which gives an overview of that section and then has four additional pages, each detailing that event or scene from the British, American, French and American Indian perspectives. Unfortunately, I am not sure that I am going to find enough information to populate each of these pages for each section. In other words, it seems like it would be a stretch to tell about each part of the event from 4 different perspectives. Instead, I am now envisioning making each section about a particular individual such as Clark, Hamilton, Gibault, Bowman, Busseron, Vigo, or Lajes (Big Gate). I would use the main page of each section to get a quick overview of their personal history. Then I would use the individual pages in each section to give their perspectives about some of the different parts of the overall Sackville event. For example, a section on Clark might include pages about the expedition and the siege while Hamilton’s section might focus more on his time in Detroit leading up to the siege.
In the next two weeks, I need to finish my research. I also need to finish adding all of my images to Omeka and make sure they have proper Dublin Core metadata. I also need to decide which organizational structure is going to best help me tell the stories that I have. Finally, I need to start writing some of the text (labels) for my site and make sure that the objects I have complement the text and that the text complements the objects. Finally, I need to figure out how to incorporate the gaming elements that I hoped to include in my site.