Marchand Archive: dig into the digital humanities

In February, The History Project at UC Davis launched the expanded and improved Marchand Archive: a growing digital collection of images and lesson plans, freely available via the Internet to teachers, students, researchers, and professors alike. The Marchand Archive comprises two collections, an Image collection and a Documentary Source Problems collection.

The Image collection is a repository of more than 8600 images – from maps to paintings to codices – contributed by faculty members of the UC Davis History Department and curated by The History Project staff. Andrés Reséndez, Alan Taylor, Cynthia Brantley, Joan Cadden, Louis Warren, and Karen Halttunen (who is now at USC) have added their teaching images to the original slides donated posthumously by the family of Roland Marchand.

The Documentary Source Problems collection is a catalogue of lessons that require students to apply analytical skills to a set of primary sources from which they can deduce and explain events from the past.

Named for Roland Marchand-an internationally acclaimed scholar, member of the UC Davis History Department’s faculty, and one of the co-founders of The History Project at UC Davis-the Archive builds on Marchand’s legacy as a devoted teacher and innovative scholar. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The History Project at UC Davis has expanded the Marchand Archive from its modest origins to the robust database it is today.

“The Marchand Archive is invaluable to teachers,” says Brian Riley, a teacher at Vacaville High School. “The breadth and quality makes any stop here worthwhile. Whether I am developing a lesson or simply looking for an example, the Marchand Archive is the first place I start. I have bookmarked this site and it is my most frequently used bookmark.”

The Marchand Archive exemplifies what Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Director at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, describes as central features of digital humanities projects. The Archive focuses the user’s attention on digitized (and digital) objects of material culture. It encourages scholarly and pedagogical practices aimed at producing and disseminating knowledge “freely to an audience apart from or parallel with more traditional structures of academic publishing.” Finally, the open-source information architecture and the collaborative working model that produced the Marchand Archive embody the perspective and the practice of the digital humanities.

I think the Marchand Archive is interesting because it offers insight into the historians’ thinking, particularly in the case of Roland.

By looking at the topics and the images associated with them you can see how he helped his students think about history.

Teachers also benefit from Sherrill Futrell and Camille Leonhardt’s work adapting the documentary source problems Roland used with his university students for high school and middle school.

– Letty Kraus
The History Project

As a digital humanities project, it reaches across disciplinary and academic boundaries to produce a trove of material that bears multiple descriptions. To school teachers, the Marchand Archive is a resource for images and lesson plans aligned with California teaching standards. To researchers and graduate students, it is a collection of raw material to make sense of. IT professionals see a database, employing PHP scripting to create dynamic data sets of image files and metadata. To the volunteers, teacher leaders, and professional development mentors who have nurtured the Archive since its nascence and through multiple iterations, the Marchand Archive is a path to share what is best about academia with a broader public audience.

The History Project invites you to visit (or revisit) the Marchand Archive, and browse or search for something that will be useful to your teaching, research, or writing.

While you are there, consider filling out our survey; your responses help us improve the site, enhancing its utility and its reach.

Visit the Marchand Archive

Marchand Archive Survey

Please fill out a survey on the Marchand Archive. Your feedback helps us improve our growing digital collection of images and lesson plans. As noted in the article above, the “Marchand Archive” refers to our Image Collection and Documentary Source Problem Collection, two browsable and searchable collections of teaching resources freely available to teachers.

Click here to complete the survey

This article originally appeared in The Source, the newsletter of the California History – Social Science Project. Download the Spring/Summer 2011 edition, dedicated to Teaching History in the Digital Age.

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