Omeka Site Reviews

Welcome to the first of my many site reviews! I’ve decided to review “A Shoebox of Norwegian Letters” and the “Square Dance History Project” this time around, which both use Omeka to host and build their sites. I ended up gravitating more towards hobbyist sites, as that is most likely what I will use Omeka for in the future.

A Shoebox of Norwegian Letters

Though the “About” page on the site describes its purpose in much more detail, “A Shoebox of Norwegian Letters” makes available multiple series of letters sent between two long-lost relatives. They have been translated from Norwegian and published online in order to archive and preserve the letters, as well as make the family’s story available to the public. I chose this site because it is similar to my group’s project, wherein we digitize scrapbooks in order to tell the Rowe family’s history.

The site is organized in a way that allows the reader to choose in which order they read the letters; readers can sort by chronological order, tags, location, or by author. Offering each of these options is very helpful, and I’d like to take this into consideration when working on my own project; however, the number of categories on the front page feels a bit bulky. If my group were to use this idea for our scrapbook project, I would instead suggest including a “Sort By” drop-down menu on a page that includes every artifact. Overall, though, the site is somewhat easy to navigate and explores a unique topic.

The Square Dance History Project

Though square dance has been a part of American history for decades, the “Square Dance History Project” is one of the only websites to document its conception and evolution. This issue is quite common in the field of Digital History; many subjects, especially if the people involved are or were of a lower socioeconomic class, go undocumented. Therefore, the “Square Dance History Project” is vital to understanding an often unnoticed part of American history.

Much like that of “A Shoebox of Norwegian Letters,” the organization of this site offers many ways for readers to sort through artifacts, namely by subject, item, or exhibit. This site, however, has a more colorful and aesthetically pleasing design and includes many photos, videos, and audio clips. Because of the included media, it is a lot easier to become immersed in the “Square Dance History Project”. I also find it to be a lot easier to navigate than the first site, and the topic relates to a greater range of people.

3 Replies to “Omeka Site Reviews”

  1. The Shoebox of Norwegian Letters sounds like such an awesome concept!!! It’s amazing that someone took the time to translate all those letters from Norwegian to English so that this wonderful family story could be preserved. However I do agree with you that the Square Dance website does have a better design layout, which definitely makes it seem more user friendly and just overall more fun to poke around the website. Good luck on your scrapbook project!

  2. Having looked at the Norwegian Letters site, I think you make a very good point about the front page. In addition to your suggestion about displaying the artifacts themselves, I think the same holds true for the tags: instead of making separate links to ‘tags by frequency’ and ‘tags alphabetic’, the site creators could have created one link to a tag cloud and then given options within the page as to how the tags are organized.

    I also think that you make a good point with regards to the square dancing site and the problem of documentation. I think the square dancing site is an example of the medium fitting the subject extremely well, both in terms of the fact that it provides an exploration of something new, and in terms of the capacity for audio and video clips. These are particularly relevant to the historical subject, and digital media allows them to complement the presented information in a different way than would be the case in something like a documentary film, one that gives more freedom to the viewer to explore what they personally find most interesting.

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