Michney Wins DILAC Award
Posted March 16, 2018
Congratulations to Todd Michney for winning a $25,000 grant from the IAC’s Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC) to continue his work digitizing Ivan Allen’s archives.
Description of the project:
Traditional (paper-based) archives and repositories hold a tremendous amount of historical information of continuing relevance to local communities, yet accessing this information remains a challenging, time-consuming, and sometimes prohibitive process for students and members of the general public. In particular, mayoral administration papers from the mid-20th century to the present reveal how local decisions regarding economic development, housing policy, employment, transportation, law enforcement, and the environment produced the metropolitan settings that a majority of Americans live in today; however, revealing this past’s continuity with contemporary socioeconomic issues is typically left to professional scholars or the handful of amateurs with the time and patience to extract the relevant information. We propose to dramatically expand access to one city’s recent past — and thereby open new collaborative and interpretive spaces —through the Ivan Allen Jr. Digital Archive, a joint project of the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Atlanta History Center. As mayor from 1962 to 1970, Mr. Allen oversaw a period of Atlanta’ s history widely identified with economic dynamism but also characterized by protracted challenges to both the racial status quo and the particular development strategies pursued by his administration and the local business community. By building a networked, digital archive using a wide selection from the Allen mayoral papers — only recently made publicly available — we will enable diverse stakeholders, including student and community researchers as well as traditional academics, to pursue more open-ended interpretive experiences that can potentially enhance and empower civic participation.
Scanning a significant portion of the Allen mayoral records is only the first step in the creation of what will be a new portal for understanding Atlanta history in a more inclusive, fair, and balanced way. Innovative data processing tools will be applied to the digitized records, including optical character recognition for full-text searching, tagging (including georeferencing), embedding hyperlinks to similar or related documents, and ultimately big-data approaches like topic modeling and data visualization. We will also create curricular approaches to the archive for students — lists, themes, glossary, or other meta-information that can help students engage with cultural and historical issues in multiple courses.