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Unit 2: Metadata and Archives

“There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi. And because such a place doesn’t exist . . . the book had to.” -Toni Morrison


“All memory – even personal memory – is a social process, shaped by the various groups (family, religious, geographical, etc.) ”

–The Social Frameworks of Memory (1925)  Maurice Halbwachs 


Key Due Dates:






 Unit 2: Metadata and Archives



Genre Purpose Audience Writer’s Role Rhetorical Situation
Online Exhibit Inform audience about items and potential research questions within Migration Memorial Database. Public Museum Currator You are a Curator who is contributing to an online database and wants to guide a user through the database by telling a story about a few items in the archive.


The Migrations Memorial is a multi-course collaborative experiment hosted by the Migrations Lab at the Franklin Humanities Institute and English Department at Duke University. The goal is to build a digital database of memorials that can be accessed and searched freely to begin to ask new questions about memory and migration.

The project was inspired by the lack of reference materials available for students and teachers of memorials, whether experiential, abstract, or traditional. This project explores what it means to “make History” through collecting and analyzing information about memorials dedicated to migration. The project is currently in the process of collecting and organizing information about memorials to migration on the web, bringing together records from formal sources, like the National Parks Services and the Historical Marker Database, and informal sources, like Yelp and other social media platforms. By developing an archive of memorials dedicated to transiency, we seek to develop innovative research into better understanding what, why, and how we memorialize, as well as how publics encounter the past and their envisioned migrant history.

In addition to a database of memorials, the open-access digital platform that we are using allows for collaborative exhibit curation and presentation.



Step 1 (2/11/19-2/13/19):


We will learn how to add items into the database using the following categories:

Memorial Description (an individual or institution)
Date of Dedication
Date Refers to (temporal tags)
Physical Aspects
Nation-State (ethnographic tags)

Reference Document


We will find memorials using the following sources:

Yelp/Trip Advisor – Open source, user contributed database of memorial plaques. – US National Park Service Data

Search Engines



Step 2 (2/15/18):


Video: Adding Items into the Migrations Memorial Website


UNIT 2 FEEDER 1: Contribute at least 3 “items” to the Migrations Memorials.
You will also strive for good photo quality that is not muddled or pixilated. Strive to find “open-source” or “creative commons licensing” on all photographs uploaded to the database. You must cite all material.
When uploading the material to the database, you are also required to apply accurate descriptions and metadata for your contribution. You will receive a presentation guiding you on this and we will also edit and revise metadata in class.UNIT 2 FEEDER 1 DUE AT MIDNIGHT 


Step 3 (2/20):

Select 3-5 different items in the archive to use in an argument about how we remember migration. Think about what is interesting in the items you selected and what research questions they could help answer.

Begin to find 2-3 sources that would help your argument.



Step 4 (2/22-2/25):

Example of Annotated Bibliography: exampleOfAnnotatedBib


Unit 2 Feeder 2: 

Create an Annotated Bibliography

Length: 2-3 sources with annotations
Manuscript preparation: MLA or Chicago

Prepare a list of 2-3 sources that you will use for your Unit Project. Your sources should mainly come from academic journals, although you may include an article or chapter from 1-2 books. Do not use Internet websites unless they are particularly credible, official, or important sources of information on your topic (i.e., official government websites, or vetted non-profit organizations). For each source, write a brief summary and evaluation. Consider these questions: What is the main claim or finding of the article? Why will this source be useful for your literature review? How helpful is the article to your research? How effective is it as a source?



Step 5 (2/27-3/8):


Finally, you will create a digital exhibit that relates to your research question. In the process, you will need to choose a title, describe the project, describe individual works represented and craft an eye and ear-catching collection that tells a story about the connection between migration memorial contributions and the discussions we’ve been having about memory.
Please look at this exhibit as an example: 


You should use around 3-4 different items from the archive for your exhibit.

The exhibit should be between 1000-1200 words.


Here is the Rubric used to grade the assignment.