Final Reflections on Digital Scholarship

When I applied for the digital scholarship summer fellowship in the spring of my sophomore year, I had just started honing my academic interests. Looking back, I don’t remember having a distinct sense of self yet, or a feeling that I fit into the larger Gettysburg College community. Participating in the digital scholarship program that first summer, and over the course of the past two years, taught me the value of putting scholarship into practice and engaging with communities, and shaped many of my core values.

Some of the irony of digital scholarship is that digital scholars constantly struggle to define the field, even as they work to produce answers that are accessible to a general public. This is not to say that ambiguity is negative–dwelling in different theories and questions helps a person think more broadly, and consider perspectives they otherwise wouldn’t have. However, it’s important to know when to leave this space, decide on an answer, and create work from what you’ve learned (to “get it on the site,” one might say). Digital scholarship taught me to balance theory and practice. While my theoretical and historical work on activism was (and is) important, I realized that I had to back it up by taking action myself. Digital scholarship provided me with the groundwork I needed to be involved in the Gettysburg community–to take the intersectional frameworks I learned about as a student in the classroom and apply it to my daily life. Learning does not stop at evaluating another person’s ideas, it involves contributing your own to the discussion.

In my future, I see myself using digital tools and my digital literacy to encourage others to take action. Digital scholarship taught me to value accessibility. For me, this is not only about making information easily available and understandable, but also about inviting people to take action themselves. When I submitted my initial application to be a DSSF, I wasn’t certain that I had the capacity to complete a project. Being a part of the program showed me the I could, in fact, conduct research, present it to others, form communities, and lead. Wherever my future leads me, I’d like to use digital tools to create narratives that engage people’s ideas and encourage them to take action themselves.

By far, the most important thing I learned as a member of the digital scholarship team at Musselman Library was the importance of engaging with communities. All of the work I’ve done over the past two years came to fruition because I had help and support from a strong network of mentors and co-workers. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to approach or engage with social justice issues because they seem so infeasible. However, coming together to critically engage with discourse creates the potential for productive change. I know that I will take this lesson into the rest of my future life.

In Celebration of Digital Scholarship/Digital Humanities


The opportunities afforded to me by the Digital Scholarship office have shaped my time here at Gettysburg college so far. Having the opportunity to create a scholarship project for a digital audience over the past summer showed me how my work could reach a larger audience. It inspired me to be a better scholar and gave me the tools to do so.

The skills taught by Digital Humanities are easily translatable to an academic and professional setting. DH is public facing and requires communication skills. Writing for the web and a general audience means that text must be concise, easy to follow, and visually guide the reader through the ideas of the piece. Basic digital skills like simple coding and web design are also useful in designing projects, whether they are for public use or internal presentations.

Yet Digital Humanities is not all about digital work. The final product must be well designed and user friendly, with the information presented in an engaging way. That information must come from reputable sources and be well researched. A great deal of work must be done before the project can even be placed in its final digital format. Research skills are essential to the field of Digital Scholarship to promote further scholarship and accurately attribute the sources and media used to create engaging projects. 

These skills have served me well in my classes. While not all assignments have a digital component, the classes I take are humanities based. The basics skills of DH are humanities skills used in a new way to promote the accessibility of scholarship for all.

One thing that should be made clear about DH is that it does not exist to make projects digital for the sake of modernization. DH can enhance scholarship through its format, not make scholarship more difficult by adding hurdles for scholars to jump over. I have had opportunities to make some class projects digital, but DH has taught me that not every project warrants digitization. DH is a goal to strive for, but not a requirement. 

Digital literacy is increasingly important in the workplace and life in general. It should become more important in our classrooms as well. Before I worked as a DSSF this past summer, I had no experience with coding or building a project on a digital platform. Now, I am comfortable doing so. I want to continue to improve in these skills. I will continue to work in DH and promote digital literacy on campus. In the future, these skills will be useful in communicating as wall as workplace settings. DH is not a niche skill set. It is increasingly applicable in our digitized world, and will only become more relevant.

I love working in the Digital Scholarship Office. It has taught me new skills, exposed me to new sources of knowledge, and given me new and engaging ways to create scholarship. Working in the Digital Scholarship Office has been a pleasure. I encourage all to stop by our offices for advice on how to use DH in the future. And be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming #DSSF18. I am sure their projects will be incredible.

“I Can Do That”: Digital Scholarship for Undergraduates

For the past year, I have had the pleasure of working with the Musselman Library’s Digital Scholarship initiative. In that time, I have come to realize the importance of digital skills and digital literacy. We are living in an increasingly digital age and as college students, we are expected to understand digital language. The digital literacy assignment grants sponsored by the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning have been a great way for students and faculty alike to enhance their digital skills and vocabulary.

Throughout the Fall 2017 semester, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with librarians Clint Baugess and R.C . Miessler, and Professor Stefanie Sobelle. Funded by the JCCTL, we were able to design a comprehensive digital learning plan that would be used for English 308: Writing the Literary Review. The main goal of the class was to create an online literary review magazine. Our plan was not to turn students into digital geniuses overnight, rather we hoped that by the end of the course, students would have a basic understanding of digital tools, copyright issues, and project planning. I personally found great value in organizing lesson plans and talking over project ideas. Collaboration between professor, student, and librarian allowed us to create a project that was realistically manageable for a one-semester course.

Once the school year started, R.C, Clint, and I would meet with the class on a bi-weekly basis to discuss different digital themes that correlated with their digital project. Themes such as copyright issues, wireframing, project management, and writing for the web were some of the topics discussed throughout the course. In addition to our in-class sessions, I would hold office hours to offer extra digital support for both students and faculty alike.

The whole experience has been a rewarding one. I personally have been able to learn and grow as a digital scholar. This experience has enabled me to better understand how to teach other undergraduates about the field of digital humanities. I would encourage anyone who would like to learn more about the field of digital humanities to apply for a digital literacy grant. Not only is understanding how to use digital tools important in today’s society, digital projects allow students to be creative. It enables undergraduates to think critically about the methods, issues, and benefits of the digital age. The Digital Fellows along with the digital working committee would offer extensive support.

So, apply! I know I am a bit biased, but digital scholarship is pretty cool. Learning more about digital tools and digital humanities will help us better understand the digital world we live in today.

Keira Koch is a junior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and has been a Digital Scholarship Fellow in Musselman Library since 2016.

What We Did Here, One Year Later

About a week and a half ago, Facebook sent me a notification to let me know that I had a memory to look back on. I opened the app, and saw the message I had composed at the end of the We Won’t Stand for Hate movement, a student-led initiative to resist the hate speech on campus that spiked following the 2016 election. My post encouraged people to engage with a digital collection I’d helped to make with Musselman Library called “What We Did Here.” In the post, I encouraged students to “upload written testimony, audio, pictures, or video that reflect[ed their] experience as a Gettysburg student, no matter what [their] identity, political affiliation, or opinion” so that their voices could be “heard, respected, and responded to.” After that day, What We Did Here became an involved part of my life. For the remainder of the fall, I worked with library staff to improve the website as we started to receive submissions. It was encouraging to see that students and staff were contributing to the site, and that media from other movements on campus (such as a demonstration by students of color that had taken place the previous spring) were among the submissions. When I was abroad in the spring, I kept an eye on What We Did Here as another student movement took place: the Muslim Student Solidarity rally, which was held as a counter space to a talk being given at the same time by Robert Spencer. When I was back at the library over the summer, I continued outreach about the project on a number of occasions. I gave a presentation about the site at Keystone DH, a conference held in Philadelphia, PA, and encouraged alumni from the class of 1971 to contribute items over the course of alumni weekend. A small feature on What We Did Here was also featured in the Spring 2017 volume of the Friends of Musselman Library newsletter.

Despite the various contributions people have made on the site, I still feel like there is room for improvement and growth. Our Gettysburg DH cohort often jokes about the “log cabin in the sky” –a less grandiose reality of the “castle in the sky” you initially envision as the outcome of your project. When we initially designed the website, I thought that it would go viral, gain a massive following, and revolutionize Gettysburg all at once. But, something I’ve learned in my research, (and seemingly ignored in this instance), is that social justice initiatives take time, and often operate on a small scale, particularly on a campus such as Gettysburg’s. However, this doesn’t mean that these initiatives aren’t impactful.  At this time, I think future steps and development should be about increasing student awareness so that students are aware that they can engage with the site at any time, and that the items that they contribute have an important place in college history. What We Did Here has the potential to benefit the entire campus community, but only if we rethink and continue our outreach. As the semester comes to an end, I plan on working with the DH cohort and doing my own evaluation on the project to brainstorm new ways we can increase awareness of the site in the spring.

Rooted In Memory: Cataloging the Trees of Gettysburg College

If you take a walk through the campus of Gettysburg College, you will notice that it is filled with plaques. Known as named spaces, they are under trees, on benches, attached to buildings, or put into walkways. While they are clearly visible to those on campus, their history is less well known. To make these spaces more visible and accessible, I have been working with Special Collections and Facilities to gather data about trees on campus. I have compiled coordinates, photos, and other information to be used in a digital map by the college.

This may seem counterintuitive. After all, the trees are directly on campus. People can go read the plaques and see the trees in real life. But through this method, the information available is limited to that on the plaque. Stephen Hoalden Doane has an exhaustively detailed plaque, but the plaque for Grace C. Kenney does not list any identifying information. By using a digital mapping system, I can link out to further information or embed information into the map. For example, in the digital pin for the TC Williams Football team of 1971, I put a trailer for Remember the Titans, a movie based on their amazing season. The team completed their spring training at Gettysburg College, a fact that many students and visitors may not realize. By using digital platforms to connect people and information, the stories behind the trees can be discovered and accessed by more people.  

The sites I have constructed are only samples of what can be made. The initial site I made used Esri Story Maps from ArcGIS. This site functions as more a catalogue of all the trees on campus, giving users the name, location, plaque information, and picture. What they do with this information is up to them. I also used StoryMapJS from Knightlab to make smaller maps focused on patterns I noticed in the trees. For example, a large number of the donated trees had a link to the 1960s, and could be grouped together in a tour, which I made. Other groups can be made with the trees, like maps of all the graduates, faculty, and staff honored with trees. I am currently working on a map of all the trees with fall foliage using pictures I took on campus. This idea can be expanded upon in the future and maps can be made with winter and spring foliage and information about tree species.

While this project has been fun, it has not been easy. The biggest lesson I’ve taken from this project is that your data is only as good as your platform. I’ve spent a lot of time trouble shooting flaws in a platform to make my data presentable. Some of the mapping systems would not take the full coordinates I gathered for the trees. The maps are perfectly serviceable to get locations for larger objects like roads and buildings, but trees are much more precise, and so they are harder to pinpoint. I found a way around this by using satellite images in the mapping systems and landmarks to approximate their exact locations. Another issue with data arose while trying to input images of trees. Some of the photo files were too large for different platforms to utilize. So, even though I had a high quality image that could orient users, I was unable to put it on the actual map. Luckily, this was only a problem with the platform I used to make sample maps. The actual website has superior photo capacity.

Overall, this project is a great boon to the college. It allows the history of the campus to be more discoverable. As a student of this college and of history, I always wondered who the people commemorated on these plaques were, but I never had a chance to research any of this myself. Funding this project brings the history of this campus to the students on a medium that they can readily use. The project can even be expanded or adapted to the other named places on campus. With construction on campus, it is also important to recognize how this place has changed over time and catalogue the history of this place. This project has the potential to engage people with both the history and future of the college. I look forward to continuing work on this project. After all, there is a great deal of history on this campus. I have just only scratched the surface.


Week  nine was so crazy! I was so stressed about my project and getting everything done. But its so interesting to look back and see what we have created. My goal was to have everything done by the end of week nine. Although it was unrealistic, I think it would have made week ten a lot easier!

Thank you

I would just like to thank everyone that made this project possible. I had a wonderful time and really learned a lot. I really appreciate all of the time and work you all put into the fellowship. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the summer… and I will see you in the spring! Have a wonderful fall!



During the first week of this fellowship my definition of DH was very theoretical. There is nothing wrong with theoretical definitions, but as the summer went on, my definition became more practical. I think the change in my understanding is like the difference between knowing what Storymaps JS is and actually being able to make a Storymap. I think after completing this fellowship I understand the strengths and weaknesses of DH.  I think it is important to look at it critically, but also appreciate what it stands for.

I am not sure which definition my project represents. In some ways, I think it represents the first “ideal” definition, but in some ways I think my project represents the practical definition.

Advice to the next year’s cohort

  1. Don’t be afraid to think big in the first few weeks.
  2. Accept that your project will not be as big as you would have hoped
  3. Ask lots of questions… during sessions, to specific people, or when you need help.
  4. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the greater DH community
  5. Don’t rule digital tools out right away
  6. Have fun
  7. Don’t be afraid to fail

A Look Back

The first week of this program, I went into the library and was asked to write a definition of Digital Humanities/Scholarship. That seemed like an impossible task, distilling all of DS/DH into a simple phrase. I know now that it is, it is supposed to be difficult, and that is the nature of DH.

I believe my initial definition was something along the lines of “the use of digital tools and platforms to create engaging and experimental scholarship.” It’s not bad for something I wrote in ten minutes while trying to comprehend everything I had read previously.

In the second blog post I made, I changed this definition to sound more articulate. Now, DH was “an endeavor that utilizes digital tools and platforms to enhance creations, are open to a larger community and perspectives, and are informed through risks and experimentation.”

Both of these definitions hold true for me in their own ways. DH does use the digital to enhance what is already there. Without good research, there cannot be a great project, even if the digital tools are top of the line. DH is open, both to a wider audience and experimentation, as that allows it to grow. One of the greatest aspects of digital projects is the fact that they do not have to be completely finished, they can change as needed over time. DH can also engage with audiences by making interactive sites.

These ideas guided me in creating my project. I made sure to use the digital platforms to augment my research, not distract from the lack of information with flashy features. I am not yet done with the project, but that is because I allowed myself room to continue working. I focused on what I could accomplish in a summer, and will build up my site as I can. I always kept my audience in mind, designing my site for their ease of use and comprehension of materials.

All that said, I do not have a definitive definition of Digital Humanities, but that is not for lack of trying. Over the summer, I have come to the conclusion that the scope of DH is much wider than initially perceived. I can define DH for myself and my project, and that definition will serve quite nicely. However, I do not know all the ways in which DH is being used, and I cannot speak for them all. I do not want to, as making a definitive definition might exclude some great DH that I do not know exists yet. DH should be thought of instead as a set of aspects. If a project utilizes many of DH aspects- digital tools, collaboration, openness- then it should be under consideration to be known as a DH project.

For those interested in joining the cohort next year, I urge you to try. Don’t be intimidated by the digital, embrace it and use it to your advantage. Have confidence in your project as a part of DH, it does have a place in this field. Most of all, ask for help. DH is collaborative by nature, it is the only way we all grow. I look forward to meeting you and seeing what you bring to the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship.


Emma Lewis