Fondren Fellows Project Proposal



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Fondren Fellows Project Proposal
Name: Woodson Research Center staff
Department: Woodson Research Center
Email: woodson@rice.edu Phone: x 2586
Project Title: Mapping Civil War narratives

When would project work take place: Fall 2016





  1. Please provide a brief (up to 500 word) summary of the proposed project, explaining why it is suitable for the Fondren Fellows program.

Materials related to the U.S. Civil War are an underused strength of Woodson Research Center’s collections. Letters, diaries, scrapbooks, and other materials from North and South are represented in several collections. Some of these materials have been scanned individually, but never examined from a bird’s eye view, identifying the most represented parts of the country in the collection, noting records from less heavily documented battles in the war such as the Battle of Galveston, analyzing the variety of formats of the records – and discovering threads for possible future research in these collections, based on this new examination.


Examples of materials relevant to project:
Kuntz collection (MS 256)-LSC

  • Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln letter discussing, "the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country."

  • Reply from President Abraham Lincoln to F.P. Blair discussing: "the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.” Dated January 18, 1865

  • Inventory of slaves of Henry J. Thibodaux, November 24, 1827

Hobbs Diary (MS 370)

  • Alexander Hobbs was a 21 year old private, a volunteer recruit in the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment of the Union Army. He was captured on 1 January 1863 at the Union defeat in the Battle of Galveston, and subsequently held prisoner in Houston. He later proceeded to Union-controlled New Orleans where he remained on parole until the 42nd Massachusetts was officially discharged on August 20 1863. In his diary, Hobbs records his experiences as a volunteer recruit in New England, his participation in the Battle of Galveston, and his life as a prisoner in Houston.

Using primary resources housed in Woodson Research Center (correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, original documents) create an online exhibit using Omeka (web-publishing platform) of the personal stories of individuals directly affected by the U.S. Civil War, soldiers and families from North and South. Project will also include utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize and analyze spatial information to map locations mentioned in primary sources.




  1. Outline the key tasks that the Fondren Fellow would work on.




  • Review collections to identify relevant materials

  • Receive training by WRC mentor in the Omeka platform

  • Select items for the online exhibit (WRC mentor will scan the items selected and create the appropriate metadata)

  • Receiving training by GIS staff on use GIS software

  • Prepare the Omeka exhibit

  • Write the text for the Omeka exhibit




  1. What qualifications would you expect from students working on this project?




  • An interest in history, U.S. history, interest or experience with GIS software, strong writing skills



  1. What would students learn through their participation in this project?



Students would learn how to analyze primary sources and develop a narrative based on these sources; students would also learn how to prepare an exhibit, and become familiar with the Omeka platform and GIS software.


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