The Civil War Augmented Reality Project – VERY COOL!

The Civil War Augmented Reality Project

I was recently contacted by a group of history educators in Pennsylvania about The Civil War Augmented Reality Project. The team (see below or the “about” link for members) has provided the following concise description of the project:

Our project, the Civil War Augmented Reality Project, is intended to enhance the experiences of visitors to Civil War sites. It is also intended to increase attendance and revenue for historic sites by offering both “high” and “low” tech experiences to best reach the majority of the population. We feel that our project is fulfilling a need that educators, park workers, technology enthusiasts, and Civil War enthusiasts have discussed in the past: How can historic sites both raise public interest in their institutions though technology, and not alienate the non-technical history fans? We have worked hard on the answer. The objective of the project is to develop and implement augmented reality services related to the American Civil War in Pennsylvania, and to modify soon to be released tablet personal computers to allow the general public a chance to experience the applications.

Full disclosure…my day job is in wireless telecommunications marketing and in the past year I’ve been involved with the launch of Blackboard MobileTM Learn on Sprint (also very cool) so this project resonates with me big time. It’s about making education relevant and fun to all generations but particularly those who grew up using wireless and internet technologies. I’m so excited about it that I’ve created a new category on my links nav bar titled History and Augmented Reality.

I encourage you to visit The Civil War Augmented Reality Project blog which you can access here. Be sure to check out the June 23rd 2010 post, What is Augmented Reality just in case this is new territory for you. It provides a good grounding in the technology and potential AR holds.

Consider donating to the funding of the project. They’ve created a fun, Civil-War flavored funding campaign on Kickstarter accessible here. Be sure to view the video they’ve prepared at this site which really makes the team’s vision come to life. I am most impressed with the AR contest concept conceived around the battle for Little Round Top. The AR app being developed will work on Android devices (this would rock on the HTC EVOTM 4G because of the screen size), iPhonesTM, and undisclosed soon to launch tablet PCs which have cameras. The team points out that while the Apple iPadTM has driven adoption of tablets, it falls short for AR use because it lacks a camera).

The Civil War Augmented Reality Project

Hats off to the team leads for The Civil War Augmented Reality Project which includes:

Jeff Mummert- Hershey High School and York College of Pennsylvania
Art Titzel- Hershey Middle School
Jay Vasellas- Red Lion Area High School and York College of Pennsylvania

Sprint is the trademark of Sprint. Blackboard and Blackboard Mobile are the trademarks or registered trademarks of Blackboard, Inc. iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple, Inc.

Civil War Naval History Thesis Topic and New Book Acquisition: Union Jacks

Union Jacks

I’m narrowing down my thesis topic. I plan to examine the Civil War experience of those who enlisted in the navy under the rank of “Boy” including 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class who were under the age of eighteen. From what I’ve seen to date, this is an area not extensively researched. As is always true with the beginning of a research project, I’m gathering a list of sources. If you have any recommendations, PLEASE don’t hesitate to let me know

I’ve acquired several books in support of the topic above, some directly related, some peripherally so. I’ll be highlighting these in individual posts. First up, Union Jacks: Yankee sailors in the Civil War by Michael J. Bennett. This book is extremely good. Bennett’s bibliography is excellent as is his use of primary resources including several diaries of “Boy” ranked sailors. It is clear that Bennett did a superb job of researching this topic which resulted in a doctoral dissertation from Saint Louis University.

The book won several awards including the 2004 John Lyman Book Award in United States Naval History, North American Society for Oceanic History and the 2004 Fletcher Pratt Literary Award, Civil War Round Table of New York.  The latter puts him in the company of historians like Bruce Catton (1956 for This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War and 1969 for Grant Takes Command, Shelby Foote (1963 for The Civil War: A Narrative – Vol. 2 and 1974 for The Civil War: A Narrative – Vol. 3) and Steven E. Woodworth (1995 for Davis and Lee at War). Good company.

Union Jacks

I am quite confident that a trip to the National Archives will become a necessity so that I can examine the muster roles and rendezvous (naval recruiting station) reports.

NARAtions: The Blog (and Wiki) of the United States National Archives

I am adding  NARAtions to my blogroll along with other sites that help me with my research. I’m sure this won’t be news to many of you but NARAtions is, as my article title suggests, the U.S. National Archives blog. The stated purpose…

We began this blog because we are hoping to talk with you about online public access to the records held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).   We care about improving your researcher experience.

There are currently seven bloggers most of whom appear to be “history geeks” – a phrase I use only with the utmost respect and admiration.

As I embark on my own thesis research in Civil War naval history, I am both appreciative and disappointed with what is online from our National Archives. Apparently,  the cost of digitization means that a small percentage of available materials have been digitized. What a shame that there isn’t more. Interestingly, ancestry.com has pension records for soldiers and sailors of the American Civil War and I have full access to the site (yes a pretty penny).

NARAtions

They’ve also created a Wiki called “Our Archives” where the public can contribute. It is accessible here. This could actually be a good thing if adopted. It will be interesting to see if it is given more respect among historians than other Wikis. The stated purpose of the Wiki is as follows:

Our Archives is an online space for researchers, educators, genealogists, and Archives staff to share information and knowledge about the records of the National Archives and about their research.

Our Archives Wiki