Making the Local National / Making the National Local, Online: Creating Remembering Lincoln

David McKenzie, Fords Theatre, USA

How can digital technology help bring local flavor to a national commemoration?

This lightning talk will address that question by discussing Remembering Lincoln, an online project by Ford’s Theatre to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (funded with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services). The project is a collaboration of Ford’s and over a dozen partner institutions to collect, digitize, and share local personal, institutional, and civic responses to the assassination.

The project’s goal is to create an online platform that will be the place to discover the reactions of people who lived through the president’s murder and its aftermath. We hope to connect people through this national website with local and state libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies, and provide a national venue for local organizations to present their collections in a wider context.

This fast-paced talk will highlight materials brought together so far and discuss the planning process, including:
• The project’s origin in an onsite exhibition interactive, and the process of translating the “big idea” from an in-person experience into an online experience.
• Sometimes contentious advisor meetings and online discussions about digital topics like crowdsourcing.
• The process of collaboration among multiple institutions with differing experience with digital projects.
• Audience research, including lessons learned for such endeavors for digital projects versus physical exhibitions.
• The process of choosing a platform based on audience needs as identified by a formative evaluation process.

Our goal for the project is that Remembering Lincoln will connect students, teachers, scholars, enthusiasts, and everyone else with this important event. We hope that the project will provide a template for local, state, and national organizations to combine resources to commemorate historical events.

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