History students contribute to national database

A group of Wayne State history students recently had a unique opportunity to write episodes for the History Engine, an interactive online database hosted by the University of Richmond which allows students to collaborate on and publish research projects.

History Engine makes the research experience more authentic because it allows the students to display their research to a public audience and motivates them to be engaging and accessible. 

Liette Gidlow, an associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, had the idea to get her class involved while looking for a new outlet for student research — one that was both digital and not so locally contained, such as a blog which would only be seen by classmates. History Engine offered an opportunity to integrate research with a public audience and a digital platform.  

"History Engine makes the research experience more authentic because it allows the students display their research to a public audience and motivates them to be engaging and accessible," Gidlow said of the project. 

Student Christine Cook enjoyed the experience. "What I thought was innovative and worthwhile about the project was learning the process of taking primary sources — in this case, newspaper articles written at the time of a specific event — and using them to create a narrative event that was a snapshot in time. From there, we used secondary sources to provide important background information. I've never constructed an article or paper in this way before, but it’s a technique I plan to use again." 

With entries written by students from universities all over the country, History Engine covers subjects ranging from civil rights in the '60s to sexism in the 2000s. Each entry is then placed on an interactive timeline connected to a world map. 

To view the WSU student episodes, visit historyengine.richmond.edu/courses/view/163.  


By Ian Aufdemberge, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences communications associate

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History students contribute to national database 3/7/2017
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