The first time I remember seriously working on Rowe Family Scrapbooks was right after librarian Angie Kemp introduced our class to the Digital Archiving Lab. Our five group members sat outside the room and discussed when and where we would like to meet to get our project started, and we all decided that we wanted to get our work done as soon as possible so that we wouldn’t be stressed during finals week. Little did we know that that one decision would pay off massively near the end of the semester.
Throughout our process, we kept a color-coded schedule, a scan list, and multiple documents meant to help us stay organized. We streamlined our process by meeting twice per week outside of class, and in class, discussing what we would do during our meetings. This made our once-daunting project much easier to handle and provided us with a guaranteed plan of attack every week.
We began by writing our contract, making sure we had an idea of what we wanted to do and iterating those ideas to Dr. McClurken. We decided that we wanted to make an archive with an emphasis on visual appeal, something that is often pushed to the wayside in historical sites. We would build our site to not only be informational, but to be fun to visit as well, with special attention to accessibility. We chose to advertise our site with a Twitterbot, as it could be automated to last longer than we wanted to manage it. Our contract did not go without revisions, however; we had to edit it about four times before it was finalized.
We continued our work in Simpson Library’s Special Collections under Carolyn Parsons’ guidance. We spent weeks going through the Rowe family’s donations, choosing what we would and would not feature on our site. This decision was difficult since we were unsure of how we were going to craft our narrative or what route we were going, though we did all agree to focus on the women in the family. This narrowed our choices down by about a third, until we finally chose the women we were going to speak about in our project: Gilmer Martin Stoffregen, Jeanette MacDonald Stoffregen, Katherine Stoffregen Wilson, and Anne Martin Wilson Rowe. We later met with two of Anne’s daughters, Jeanette Cadwallender and Florence Barnick, at Agora cafe in downtown Fredericksburg, to make sure that we were portraying their family accurately; this was easily my favorite part of the project, as I enjoyed hearing their stories.
From there, we selected our artifacts, met with Angie Kemp, and began scanning in the Digital Archiving Lab, a process that took only three hours to complete, to our surprise. We then spent a bit longer converting our preservation-grade .tiff scans to .pngs and uploaded them to our flash drives, which we took home with us once residence halls closed for the semester. We were thankful that we had decided to scan the scrapbooks early, since we had everything we had needed for our site to be created according to our original vision.
After returning home, it was time for us to focus on the site itself. We still met twice per week, this time over Zoom. Most of our work here was captioning images, as Glynnis and Erin had already built our site’s framework at this point. This took hours and was a tedious process; it was probably the most difficult part of our project, as we had to make sure that all of our information was correct and followed captioning protocol. After this, we turned toward advertising, crafting a narrative, and finishing up final bits of detail work, filling in gaps as needed. I built the Twitterbot to draw attention to our site; this was the final step to our project.
Ultimately, I feel that Rowe Family Scrapbooks is more accurate to my group’s initial vision than I could have ever expected, especially under current circumstances. I am incredibly proud of our results and the work we put in, and I hope the Rowe family is as well. Fortunately, I feel that it is safe to say that our site was a success.