This paper presents an approach to designing editing workshops related to digital public history projects based on archival materials at institutions of higher learning. These events engage campus communities in the practice of public history and create opportunities for students interested in archives and digital humanities to develop professional skills. The model draws on the experiences of faculty, staff, and students who have contributed to Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, a pedagogically focused project that explores methods for the collaborative online publication of selected personal papers and correspondence of local African American leader Eartha M. M. White (1876–1974), held in the Special Collections of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida. Although this article focuses on designing workshops in the context of higher education, the model discussed can potentially be extended to other contexts beyond the campus.

This paper presents a model for conducting editing workshops at institutions of higher learning in connection with digital projects based on archival materials. These events are designed to engage campus communities in the practice of public history and create opportunities for students who are interested in archives and digital humanities to gain professional skills. We propose a flexible approach that can be used for both limited, short-term events and regularly occurring workshop series. The model draws on the experiences of students, faculty, and staff at the University of North Florida (UNF) in the context of Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, a pedagogically focused project that explores methods for publishing in a collaborative fashion selected personal papers and correspondence of local African American leader Eartha M. M. White (1876–1974).

This article first provides background on the Eartha M. M. White Collection and its importance for the North Florida region in general and for UNF specifically. It locates our discussion of editing workshops in a larger scholarly context, and details the evolution of our paradigm since 2016, identifying its basic components and proposing strategies for its successful deployment. We reflect on the implications of this model for engaging communities, on campus and potentially beyond, in the recovery of historical narratives and for providing formative experiences to the students who will chart the future course of digital public history.

This essay explores a model for project outreach and student engagement, not a specific implementation. Accordingly, although we focus on the particulars of Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection by way of example, our primary objective is to outline a paradigm that others can adapt to serve the needs of their own projects, students, and institutions. Out of a concern with keeping this larger goal in focus, we relegate details on technical topics, to the extent possible, to the endnotes, pointing to specific resources that others can use as starting points.

This study connects to several established and emerging conversations in today’s academy. These include discussions about electronic textual editing as an area of scholarly inquiry, digital humanities pedagogy, experiential learning, and digital editing as a form of public history practice. It also relates to scholarship examining the relationships between archives and the digital humanities and the notion of digital community engagement. In addition, this study intersects with work examining recent efforts by institutions of higher learning to reckon with the past amid heightened social awareness of racial injustice.

Electronic textual editing has been an important area of scholarly activity for decades. Indeed, the field we today understand as digital humanities grew, in large part, from efforts to employ technology and computational methods in the storage, transmission, and analysis of written texts. Marking an important moment in this process, in 1987 the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) was established to create a standard for markup, thereby addressing problems of compatibility and sustainability that had developed in the preceding years.1

Since that time, the interdisciplinary field of digital editing has grown exponentially. Researchers and institutions have undertaken countless projects that pursue diverse objectives, including preserving and providing access to cultural heritage materials, enabling new ways to interact with and understand archival texts, and bringing attention to overlooked writers and communities.2 As this partial list suggests, digital editing is not only an area of praxis but also a space for analyzing critically our relationships with written material and the ways in which we create and transmit narratives in a world shaped by technology. An expanding body of scholarship reflects the dual nature of digital editing as both a theoretical and applied pursuit with broad implications for the humanities today.3

In recent years, scholars have grown increasingly interested in the pedagogical applications of digital humanities methods at the undergraduate and graduate levels.4 Scholars have considered broadly what to teach, how to teach it, in what context, and why we might do so.5 Within this body of work, some studies look specifically at the pedagogy of digital textual editing. Authors have examined the potential objectives or outcomes of engaging students in the practice of digital editing, proposing, among other possibilities, that such activities can be used to teach critical thinking and close reading skills.6

Though not always explicitly stated, scholarship on digital humanities pedagogy often connects with theories of experiential education that rose to prominence in the last quarter of the twentieth century and continue to represent a central component of learning in many academic fields today. The use of digital humanities methods in teaching often involves hands-on, project-based work, as well as critical analysis of the processes involved. Such an approach reflects ideas about learning that, since John Dewey first articulated them in the early twentieth century, emphasize lived experience and critical reflection on that experience.7

Scholars have also considered the role of libraries within digital humanities endeavors, examining topics including collaboration with academic faculty and the ongoing management of digital humanities projects.8 Within this context, some authors have reflected specifically on the place of special collections and archives in the digital humanities.9 Scholars have likewise studied the role that archives can play in teaching and building connections between institutions and the publics they serve.10

The concept of digital community engagement has emerged to describe processes by which scholars and non-academic constituencies collaborate in the production of digital scholarship.11 Work on this topic has pointed to ways that such a model goes beyond merely involving communities in scholarly processes, instead creating equitable relationships in which academic and community partners share both in the design of the projects and the ownership of their outcomes. In examining such scholarship, authors have pointed to the ways that digital work creates broader and more engaging possibilities for these partnerships than does traditional academic production.12

Scholars have likewise reflected on the relationship between editing, archival work, and public history. Historical editors make available archival materials and the narratives they contain, and as such, their work has long been understood to be a way of conducting public history.13 As scholars have noted, however, editors, public historians, and archives professionals continue to occupy separate professional realms, despite the overlap that exists today between their work.14

In recent years, and particularly following the public outcry after the murder of George Floyd, various universities have found themselves compelled to reckon with or atone for aspects of their pasts that reflect racial violence and injustice. Often reluctantly, prodded on by the efforts of researchers and students, institutions have taken steps to acknowledge and make visible the contributions that enslaved persons and African American workers made to their founding, construction, and operation.15 Scholarship has highlighted the difficulty in recovering, in particular, the stories and perspectives of Black women, especially those who were enslaved.

This article connects to all of these conversations. We point to a paradigm through which archivists, teaching faculty, staff, and students can work together to transmit materials of value to local history. We examine a method for putting into practice ideas around digital editing as a pedagogical tool, and in doing so, seek to contribute to remedying the relative absence of scholarship in the humanities related to experiential learning and student leadership.16 We also present a way to connect archives and digital projects with communities on campus and potentially beyond, through hands–on engagement with textual material, in a process that—in the case of our project, at least—has implications for the way the institution understands the role of race in its past and present. In doing so, we seek to bring together several threads that have not always intersected. We hope also to contribute to the creation of new spaces for collaborative, innovative public history practice, and promote stronger connections between archive professionals, teaching faculty, students, and others.

Eartha M. M. White was a businesswoman, philanthropist, and civil rights activist in Jacksonville. Born in North Florida in 1876, she relocated to New York as an adolescent in response to the 1888 yellow fever outbreak in Jacksonville. As a teenager, she toured as an opera singer, returning to her hometown after the death of her fiancé in 1896. She studied at the Florida Baptist Academy and taught in Bayard, a transit point between Jacksonville and St. Augustine that was later annexed by the former, as well as at Stanton School. In 1904, White founded the Clara White Mission in the LaVilla neighborhood, just west of downtown Jacksonville, naming the institution after her adoptive mother. Over the following decades, White’s other charitable works included the establishment of an orphanage, a refuge for single mothers, and a home for elderly African Americans. She also managed several successful business ventures, the profits from which she directed toward the Clara White Mission and her other endeavors. White was a community organizer, campaigning against lynching and encouraging fellow African American women to exercise their franchise. She was also active in women’s organizations, including the National Association of Colored Women, and served in leadership roles in local and national civil rights organizations. Her legacy is most visible in the ongoing functioning of the Clara White Mission, a cornerstone of Jacksonville’s nonprofit sector for nearly 120 years, but the lasting impacts of her work continue to mark the city in many other less obvious ways.17

Through the efforts of Dr. Daniel Schafer, the first professor of history UNF hired when it opened in 1972, the university attained a portion of her estate in 1975.18 The Eartha M. M. White Collection was the founding acquisition of UNF’s Special Collections and remains today the most frequently consulted of its holdings.19 The collection gathers over one thousand letters, documents, event programs, notes, photographs, and other artifacts connected with White’s life and work.20 These materials are critical sources for understanding the African American history of North Florida, in particular with regard to the vibrant social, economic, and religious life of the early twentieth century, a time when LaVilla was known as the “Harlem of the South” and when Zora Neale Hurston, J. Rosamond Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, A. Philip Randolph, and other figures of national stature lived and worked in Jacksonville’s historically Black neighborhoods.21

Those areas were later transformed by the forces that hollowed out inner cities across the United States. The advent of redlining, the construction of expressways, the demolition of neighborhoods under the rubric of “urban renewal,” and the exodus of white residents to increasingly sprawling suburbs all combined to undermine the viability of areas where African American communities were centered and that had been central to the city’s earlier development. The consolidation of Jacksonville and Duval County in 1968 dramatically increased the size of the city, making it the largest in the contiguous forty-eight states by area and diverting attention from the problems of a declining urban core.22

The founding of UNF in southeast Jacksonville was itself a reflection of this movement away from the city’s historic center. Rather than downtown, the university was located in what was then forest, thirteen miles away. This outcome was the product of a complex and contentious process that pitted supporters of a downtown site against those who believed a rural location would be less expensive and allow for greater future growth.23 According to Daniel Schafer, race was an undeniable factor in the decision. He cited City Council President John J. Lanahan’s explaination from an interview held in 1979 that asserted that support for a downtown campus had been limited primarily to those in the Black community, who, to his mind, did not need UNF. Lanahan believed that the “junior college system really suffices their needs for the immediate problem of the first two years of college where you sort of screen out the person, whether he is really third and fourth year college material.”24 In other words, Lanahan believed that no reason existed to build the university in the urban core, as it was to be an upper-division institution only, and few downtown residents were likely to make it through two years of junior college and later enroll at UNF.

Due to such attitudes, according to Schafer, the strongest and most enduring criticisms of UNF’s ultimate location came from those who felt the decision was racially motivated. Writing in 1982, he explained that “Blacks in Jacksonville, some of them prominent public officials, have accused UNF of being a racist institution because of its location.” Schafer argued that UNF itself cannot be held responsible, as the city council, not the university, chose the site. He agreed, however, that race played an important role: “To argue that UNF itself had no say in its location is accurate, but to say that race was not a factor in the site selection is to disregard the evidence of the 1960s.”25 Exacerbating the negative impact of this decision on the city’s African American communities was the fact that the campus was not only far from downtown, but entirely unreachable by many, as no bus lines connected the new campus to the city’s center.26 Although half a century has passed, the sense of betrayal this caused has not been forgotten by some Black residents, including Jacksonville civil rights activist Rodney Hurst Sr., who has been active in the area for over six decades.27

Administrators were aware that UNF was inaccessible to those who lived in the core, and in the late 1970s, the University attempted to address the situation by establishing the Downtown Center, situated on what was then Hemming Plaza, a location that since the nineteenth century has been central to the public life of Jacksonville.28 The satellite campus offered undergraduate classes from 1978 through 1987. After its closure, UNF continued for a time to offer courses downtown in a few academic fields, using space in buildings not owned by the university, and maintaining an administrative office called the Downtown Service Center, which was subsequently closed in 1990.29

UNF today remains a predominantly white institution. For the fall of 2021, the university reported that 60 percent of students and 74 percent of full-time faculty were white. At 10 percent and 5 percent respectively, the percentages of African American students and faculty members on campus remain significantly below that of Jacksonville itself, where, according to US Census Bureau data, 32.9 percent of the population was Black or African American in July 2021.30

The university is aware of the need to diversify the campus and in recent years has taken steps in that direction. The institution mentions diversity as a key part of its vision and values, maintaining an Office of Diversity and Inclusion that is led by a vice president with the title of Chief Diversity Officer.31 Among the responsibilities of that position are to “lead and collaboratively assist in recruiting and retaining underrepresented students, faculty and staff; assess and improve the campus climate for diversity and inclusion; promote inclusive excellence in scholarly and creative activity; and engage the community to encourage discourse while countering bias and discrimination.”32 Efforts to increase diversity at UNF extend to curriculum, perhaps most visibly through efforts in recent years by the College of Arts and Sciences to strengthen and expand its Africana Studies Program.33

The results of a Campus Climate Survey conducted in 2019 suggest that most students, faculty, and staff believe the university is making efforts toward diversity and inclusion, but that systematic differences persist. Among the report’s summary findings are that “[n]on-white students as compared with white students are more dissatisfied with how much the university values diversity, less satisfied with the diversity at all levels of university (including students, faculty, and staff), have lower beliefs about their safety on campus, feel less valued and included, experience a lower sense of community, are less satisfied with leadership’s response to discrimination, report being marginalized, are less satisfied with the interactions among diverse groups of students, and less satisfied with the atmosphere for difference at UNF.” Results for faculty and staff, the report indicates, “mirror the student data collected.”34

In an opinion piece in May 2022, Joshua Smith, an editor of UNF’s student newspaper, considered how Black students on campus live this reality. Smith recounts his own experience during the COVID-19 pandemic:

When I first enrolled at UNF, I don’t think I really grasped how few black people there were at the school.…However, since I was only working on campus and taking most of my classes online, this did not bother me that much. Then, as the school began to re-encourage on-campus learning during the fall semester of 2021, I found myself sitting in in-person classrooms. I noticed a particular trend.…I was one of two black students in nearly every class. And in the situations where there were not two of us, there was one. Me.

Setting aside the question of underrepresentation, Smith proposes that a more important issue has to do with communication and respect: “Making up 10% of the University of North Florida (UNF)’s student demographics, it is highly unlikely that black students have a hard time being seen. However, they certainly have a harder time being heard.” Smith asserts that Black students often feel “unheard or just ignored” when interacting with professors and classmates.35

Jacksonville’s African American population is now more geographically dispersed than in the past, and so the impact of UNF’s distance in physical terms from downtown is not the same as in the university’s earlier years. However, the areas where African American residents are most concentrated remain the neighborhoods in which White lived and worked, as well as others further out on what is known as Jacksonville’s “North Side.”36 Although bus routes today connect UNF to those areas, relying on public transit in Jacksonville presents what most residents would consider to be significant inconveniences, with relatively infrequent departures and trips taking significantly longer than by private vehicle.37

In recent years, UNF has begun to again have a presence downtown. Since 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), located coincidentally in the same building that once housed the Downtown Center, has been a “cultural resource” of the university. While an important link between the university and the city’s center, MOCA is a specialized entity that does not extend access to its degree programs into the area. In 2019, the university opened a Downtown Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, but while potentially the start of a larger reengagement with the urban core, that space serves primarily for business development and for offering a limited number of graduate-level business courses.38

The Eartha M. M. White Collection, therefore, offers opportunities not only to researchers and the public at large but also to the university itself. It is not merely the jewel of the institution’s special collections, but also potentially a tool for confronting the racial injustices that continue to impact and divide Jacksonville and that are not disconnected from the institution’s own history. Projects that can engage the UNF community with the collection in compelling new ways can present opportunities not only to celebrate the life and work of White, one of the city’s most prominent residents, but also to rethink the university’s connections to the city’s core neighborhoods and rich African American history—a history that is inseparable from that of the city itself, despite the degree to which it has been forgotten or erased since the middle of the last century.

Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection began in the context of an experimental course in the summer of 2016 taught collaboratively by Dr. Clayton McCarl and Dr. Aisha Johnson–Jones, then head of Special Collections and University Archives.39 McCarl coordinated the project documentation and workflow and managed the technical aspects of the course. Johnson–Jones provided context regarding White’s biography and the African American history of Jacksonville, and facilitated the students’ access to materials in the Eartha M. M. White Collection. The students selected and transcribed items, encoded them in TEI–XML, and published them online through a preliminary web interface. The course concluded with a public presentation in the Library’s Special Collections Reading Room.40

In the spring of 2018, McCarl and history major and project intern Susan Williams sought to continue the project outside a classroom context and extend its reach to new audiences. They designed a short–term workshop series, conducted in three sessions over a period of three weeks.41 The events were promoted through the campus newsletter, the email list of the Digital Humanities Institute, and posters located around campus, including in the library. Despite these efforts to publicize the events, most participants, as it turned out, were librarians, who were interested in learning more about the project and the White Collection itself.

The scope of these events was modest, with the first and second lasting two hours, and the final one hour. McCarl and Williams co-led the first two sessions, in which participants learned the basics of TEI–XML and transcribed and encoded short items from the collection. The third session was an informal presentation and conversation in the Special Collections Reading Room. This event proved particularly useful to the organizers, as the librarians were able to offer insights into the project and its processes that differed from those shared by students after the 2016 course.

In response to an invitation to submit a chapter for possible inclusion in the collection Archives and Special Collections as Sites of Contestation, edited by Mary Kandiuk, McCarl reflected on some of the problems surrounding the project. He considered specifically the way the editing of the documents took place far outside the context in which they were created, and without the participation of African American constituencies. He examined, in particular, the manner in which the digital edition created, intentionally or not, narratives about local Black history.42

In the fall of 2019, McCarl initiated a new collaboration with history/Spanish major Lyn Hemmingway with two goals in mind. They sought to advance the project by expanding the 2018 series and to address the concerns examined in McCarl’s book chapter. In Spring 2020, Hemmingway became student leader of the project, and, as in the case of Williams previously, his experience was framed as a digital humanities internship undertaken for credit. He applied for and received a grant through the UNF Office of Undergraduate Research to support his work.

Hemmingway focused on three areas of activity. The first was to create and implement the expanded workshop series. He designed, publicized, and led a semester-long series of open workshop sessions, held twice weekly for a period of two to three hours on each occasion (figure 1). They were hosted in a computer lab operated by the Digital Humanities Institute. To promote participation in these events, Hemmingway improved the online presence of the project by constructing a new website using Omeka, created and managed social media accounts for the project, and spoke to classes and on-campus organizations.

Figure 1.

Flier developed by Hemmingway to promote the Spring 2020 workshop series. (Courtesy of authors)

Figure 1.

Flier developed by Hemmingway to promote the Spring 2020 workshop series. (Courtesy of authors)

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Through these efforts, he was able to recruit a student population that we did not reach with the 2018 workshops. A community of regular participants emerged around the project, with several students attending the open sessions at least once a week. This group included students from various majors within the humanities, but also others in computer science, engineering, and other fields. When the COVID–19 pandemic interrupted the workshop series in mid–March, Hemingway continued his work remotely, completing and publishing on the new Omeka site all documents that had been edited up to that point.

Outside of the weekly workshops, his other primary focus centered on creating interpretive materials that would assist project participants and users of the website to gain a broader perspective on the collection. His idea was to provide context that would connect individual documents to each other in order to illustrate larger narratives about African American history and activism, especially as protagonized by Black women. With guidance from Dr. Felicia Bevel of the UNF Department of History, Hemmingway wrote and published on the project website the exhibition “Eartha White and the Creation of Black Historical Memory in Florida.” His essay features several edited documents from the collection and demonstrates how they reflect coherent efforts by White and her associates to recover and document the African American history of Florida.

Hemmingway also engaged in broader outreach, speaking about his work with the project at numerous public and professional events. At the invitation of Susan Swiatosz, who began as head of Special Collections in 2018, Hemmingway gave a talk as part of the Library’s Black History Month programming in February 2020 (figure 2, figure 3). Later that spring, he presented at SOARS, UNF’s annual undergraduate research symposium, and in the fall, at the National Humanities Conference, along with Bevel, McCarl, and Swiatosz.

Figure 2.

Poster advertising talks by Dr. Felicia Bevel and Hemmingway as part of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library’s 2020 Black History Month programming. (Courtesy of authors)

Figure 2.

Poster advertising talks by Dr. Felicia Bevel and Hemmingway as part of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library’s 2020 Black History Month programming. (Courtesy of authors)

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Figure 3.

Photo taken following Hemmingway’s February 2020 presentation showing (left–to–right) McCarl; Susan Swiatosz, head of Special Collections and University Archives; Hemmingway; Dr. Laura Heffernan, associate professor of English and director (2019–2021) of the UNF Digital Humanities Institute; and Dr. Felicia Bevel, assistant professor of history.

Figure 3.

Photo taken following Hemmingway’s February 2020 presentation showing (left–to–right) McCarl; Susan Swiatosz, head of Special Collections and University Archives; Hemmingway; Dr. Laura Heffernan, associate professor of English and director (2019–2021) of the UNF Digital Humanities Institute; and Dr. Felicia Bevel, assistant professor of history.

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In the spring of 2021, Hemmingway undertook a second internship, focused on developing an approach to conducting remote workshops, as well as continuing to create interpretive materials. He collaborated with UNF’s Center for Community–Based Learning to initiate a series of virtual sessions involving students at a local high school.43 That experiment proved to be of limited success due to problems related to technology that were beyond the control of both Hemmingway and the school in question. More productive was a series of remote workshops for members of the UNF community that Hemmingway also organized, promoted, and led. Despite being virtual, these workshops attracted numerous participants, some of whom had attended the in-person workshops on campus the previous year.

By this point in the evolution of Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, the project was explicitly engaged in the practice of public history. Not only were workshop participants contributing to the publication of the documents, but they were also involved in thinking about how the documents should be understood. As Hemmingway and the other editors prepared the materials for online publication in 2021, they searched together for documents with thematic significance that could become the focus of online exhibits, collaborative critical work that is now part of the project’s process.

The group’s efforts that semester led to Hemmingway’s second exhibition, “‘Not for Ourselves, But for Others’: African American Women Organizing and Leading in Jacksonville, Florida, and the United States.” Participants had edited several pamphlets related to African American club women's organizing, and in response to their work and the conversations around it, Hemmingway developed and published his exhibition. In doing so, he connected specific items that contributors had edited to a broader story that runs through the Eartha M. M. White Collection regarding the role of White and her female associates as protagonists of civic life.44

Hemmingway continued his outreach efforts, speaking about the project at numerous events. In May of 2021, he presented with McCarl and Swiatosz at the annual meeting of the Society of Southwest Archivists, and the following year, he appeared at the conferences of the Florida Digital Humanities Consortium and the Association for Documentary Editing, as well as an on-campus event hosted by the UNF Office of Research and Sponsored Programs as part of the university’s annual Research Week.

The model we propose has three main phases. In the first, session leaders provide the necessary contextual and technical information. For our project, this initial orientation focuses on two main topics. First, we discuss Eartha M. M. White and her role in the history of North Florida, as well as give an overview of her papers at UNF. We then walk students through the basics of TEI–XML, examining briefly how and why the standard was developed, demonstrating the fundamentals of XML structure and syntax, and reviewing the project documentation, in which we provide a reference of elements to use in specific situations. As part of this introduction, we show and discuss a selection of the items already completed.

In the second phase, the attendees transcribe and encode documents. They work in XML files we prepare in advance, using document images that we provide. We monitor their progress, answer questions, assist in addressing technical problems, and aid in using the project documentation.

In the final phase of our model, participants present the results of their efforts. We ask them to give an overview of the item’s content and comment on its importance to the larger project and our understanding of White’s life and work. We encourage them to identify any problems they encountered and explain the solutions they devised, as well as to reflect more generally on their experiences. That final event also serves as a forum in which to gather participants’ suggestions about the workshops going forward, feedback that can be complemented by information gathered through surveys or other means.45

The nature and duration of these three components differ, depending on the format. In the spring of 2018, the three phases corresponded roughly to the three workshop sessions: the first session involved phase 1 and the start of phase 2, the second session continued phase 2, and the third session was comprised of the presentation in phase 3. In total, the process involved five to six hours. In the 2020 series, phase 1 occurred on an individualized basis, with Hemmingway orienting each participant as they joined the project (usually a 20–30 minute conversation), and phase 2 continued for most participants over various weeks, with the number of hours invested by any given individual varying, according to availability and interest. We intended to approach phase 3 as an end–of–semester presentation and discussion of 60–90 minutes in the Special Collections Reading Room, but this was not possible due to the COVID–19 pandemic. Hemmingway and several of the contributors were able to present, however, at UNF’s annual undergraduate research symposium, held in a virtual format in April of that year.

At some point prior to publishing the edited documents on the website, the student leader and faculty mentor must review the files produced. In situations in which time allows, a first round of review could be conducted by the student leader during phase 2, providing feedback to participants, who could make changes prior to a final review by the faculty mentor. When such an iterative process is not possible, review could take place following the workshop series.46

As documents are published, they can be highlighted on the project’s social media accounts and website or by other means. Sharing these items on a periodic basis provides an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of participants and raise awareness about the project. Building a social network around the project through the process of posting such materials and tagging contributors is also a way to keep those individuals connected and potentially draw in future participants.47

The key to making this workshop model function is the effort that takes place beforehand. Some of this, of course, is logistical. Dates, times, and locations for the sessions must be determined, a system for registration implemented, and publicity materials created or updated and distributed. Additionally, any remote participation must be coordinated, ensuring that participants have access to the technology and software needed.

The most important preliminary work pertains to the preparation of the project documentation and the materials to be edited. A statement of editorial approach and a reference list of TEI–XML elements and their use must be developed and maintained. Step–by–step instructions that guide contributors through the necessary tasks are also helpful. Particularly for remote workshops, short how-to videos can be beneficial, as participants can refer back to them as needed.48

Most critically, a pool of materials to use must be pre-selected and prepared. Projects will have diverse criteria for identifying these items, but length, readability, and complexity in terms of layout should be primary considerations in most situations.49 For workshop series with only a few meetings or a large number of participants, items that can be edited in a matter of hours are preferable. For workshops that take place in a compressed time frame, or as initial documents for those participating in longer series, brief, easy-to-read letters offer numerous advantages. For recurring workshops held over an extended period of time, regular contributors can handle longer items. Due to the brevity of our Spring 2018 and Spring 2021 workshops, participants generally edited short letters or fliers, but in the 2020 series, they worked across multiple sessions with more complex materials, such as programs from community events and letters of four or more pages.50

Reproductions of the selected materials must be procured, and the resulting images must be named according to the project’s scheme for filenames.51 An XML file must also be created for each item. An effective approach can be to create an XML template with the TEI header pre-populated with the metadata that is common to all items, and then copy and rename that file for each. Contributors also benefit from having the first few lines already transcribed and encoded by way of example, as well as tips for getting started that are included as XML comments. Adding all of the necessary page break elements, configured to point to the corresponding image files, can also help to minimize potential problems.52

The XML and image files must then be made available to the participants. This can be done via a shared online folder or other means. We currently use a customized version of TEI Boilerplate, so we place the files in the appropriate folders on the server where our installation resides.53 We then add an entry for each new item to the project’s Omeka website, linking to the corresponding XML file and adding the name of the participant who will work with the document, if that person has been identified, as a contributor in the Dublin Core Metadata. We then confirm that the correct XML file loads for each item and that all the corresponding images appear properly on the resulting page. The contributors can then save the XML file locally from within their browser and either consult the images online or save them locally as well. This approach offers the advantage of allowing the contributor to see how the item will figure on the site once complete. Thorough testing is essential, however, as any errors in filenames or links can prevent participants from accessing materials—or cause them to access the wrong materials—during the workshops.

A plan needs to be made with respect to contributors’ access to an XML editor. At UNF we have had a site license for the Oxygen XML editor since 2016, which is installed on our Virtual Lab, allowing remote access.54 Other options exist, including software available at no cost.55 The main consideration is that whatever tool is chosen be easily accessed by contributors, and if software is to be installed locally on their personal devices, the time needed to address any related problems must be accounted for in the workshop schedule. For in-person events, software preloaded on machines that contributors can access may be the least problematic solution.

A system must also be in place to receive the completed files from contributors as well as to move them to the server or wherever they will reside. The best way to handle this will depend on the circumstances of a given project. In the past, we have asked contributors to place the files in a shared folder, from where we retrieve them and transfer them to our server using an FTP client. This manual process has worked well for our relatively small project, but an endeavor involving numerous contributors or facing other types of complexity may need a more sophisticated system for workflow and version control.

The three phases we outline can be conducted in person, online, or in a hybrid format. In-person sessions offer a potentially greater level of personal contact, as well as the possibility to have students physically visit the archive and view or handle the actual documents. Many participants, particularly those who face challenges in using technology, may prefer this format, which may also present advantages with respect to effectively teaching and discussing the historical context of the project. Conducting sessions in person, however, can mean a smaller number of potential participants, given the logistical difficulties of being present in a specific location at a particular time, realities that persist for many despite the general resumption of in-person activities on campuses in the wake of pandemic disruptions.

Online sessions can offer more than just greater accessibility and flexibility in terms of scheduling. The ability to share screens in video conferencing software, for instance, has proven to be an effective mechanism for demonstrating processes to participants and for working through problems that they encounter. Such hands-on guidance, in fact, can sometimes be delivered more effectively in this fashion than in person. Because conducting such sessions requires a greater degree of organization and clarity, this format can often compel a project to create more straightforward procedures and documentation, both of which can benefit contributors. Perhaps most importantly, online sessions offer different, and potentially greater, possibilities with respect to expanding workshops to communities beyond the campus itself.

The frequency of such events can vary. For some endeavors, once a year might be appropriate. In the case of Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, we offer a workshop series annually in the spring. For an ongoing, largely open-ended undertaking like ours, which is focused more on community and outreach than reaching a point of completion, this schedule can work well. Such an arrangement might not be optimal for projects with shorter timelines or specific objectives in terms of publication.

Although we did not set out to create a model for student leadership in digital public history projects, this has been perhaps the most rewarding outcome of our explorations with these workshop series. This discovery was a product more of necessity than pedagogical vision, as McCarl’s empowering of Hemmingway to take charge was motivated, in the beginning, mainly by limitations on his own time and ability to focus on the project. This decision, however, resulted in fundamental changes to the way the project operates and how we view its purpose.

Among the critical contributions made by Hemmingway was his design of the open workshop series and his approach to project outreach. Hemmingway saw the ongoing, informal session format as a more likely way to draw in a diverse population of students. Through his outreach to classes and student organizations, he demonstrated that students would engage with the project in different ways when interacting with peers instead of faculty leaders. He also showed that students were able to attract participants who might not otherwise have considered contributing to such a project or realized they were eligible to do so. In this way, Hemmingway was able to extend the reach of the project and expose a greater range of students to the open publication of historical documents and discussions of local history.

The most valuable aspect of Hemmingway’s outreach was, perhaps, his efforts to build relationships between the project and African American groups on campus. Through his interactions with the Black Student Union, several members of that organization became active participants who attended every week. The African American Faculty Staff Association also helped to promote the project, inviting Hemmingway to present at their Spring 2020 general body meeting. The support, contributions, and feedback from these groups were invaluable in furthering the project. Through his public appearances in roundtables and other events, Hemmingway also helped to connect Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection to other efforts on campus focused on African American and Diaspora studies, including several that are led by or involve the collaboration of African American and Black scholars.

Hemmingway’s approach to creating the interpretive exhibits was also transformative. His work in this area responded to a question posed by McCarl in his 2020 book chapter about the narratives that the online archive may unintentionally present about White and Jacksonville’s African American communities. To give one example, many of the documents edited prior to 2020 were letters of appeal written to White by individuals who found themselves in dire circumstances. These documents interested project leaders and participants because they are generally short and compelling in their immediacy and intimacy. As a disproportionate share of the documents presented in the archive-in-process, however, they project an image of poverty and crisis that does not reflect the multi-faceted nature of Jacksonville’s culturally rich and economically thriving African American communities in the early twentieth century.56 For this reason, themes such as Black historical memory in Florida and African American women’s leadership stood out to Hemmingway. These topics demonstrate the efforts of local Black leaders to preserve and make visible the state’s African American history and to combat the unjust and violent circumstances of Jim Crow segregation.

Although Hemmingway’s efforts to shape the narratives presented by the project took place in response to a question from McCarl, his work was entirely self-directed. He conducted independent research, took initiative in consulting with Bevel, and built on his own interests and prior experiences as a history major to formulate an approach to guiding users through the collection. These exhibits now serve as models for how the project will seek to analyze and interpret the documents and reflect critically upon its work in the future.

Hemmingway also played a key role in shaping how the project presents itself to the public. He determined that, after the interpretive exhibits, the most important public-facing dimension of the project was the accessibility and discoverability of the documents. The Omeka website that he created made browsing and searching the online archive easier, and consequently made the historical value of its contents more apparent to users. Additionally, through his various presentations, Hemmingway solidified the notion of Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection as being not only, or not primarily, a project about the editing of a specific set of documents, but rather a space for experimenting with methods for project outreach and the formation of student leaders.

Creating positions of responsibility like the one Hemmingway assumed with Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection is a way to provide formative opportunities to talented students who are interested in careers in public history, as well as in libraries, archives, and cultural heritage management. This is particularly valuable at institutions like UNF, which does not currently have degree programs in these areas. Through partnerships between academic departments, the library, and the Digital Humanities Institute, UNF is able to create spaces in which such students can discover their potential and find future direction.

This is certainly true in the case of Hemmingway. He graduated from UNF in Spring 2022 and is now enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Georgia. He plans to focus on conducting public history related to historical memory and gender in the US South. Although many other factors have also come to play in his success, he credits his involvement with Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection and his experiences as a student assistant in Special Collections as having a direct impact on his academic and professional trajectory.

The benefits of involvement with this type of project are not limited to leaders and project interns. Since 2016, several students in addition to Hemmingway and Wilson have presented about their work on this project at on-campus events, including a panel at HASTAC 2017, a presentation to the University’s Board of Trustees, and several events held annually on campus: the School of Computing Symposium; the Digital Projects Showcase, hosted by the Digital Humanities Institute; and SOARS, our annual undergraduate research showcase. In most cases, the participants were presenting on academic work in a public forum for the first time.57

This work has also been a way for these students to broaden their understanding of humanities scholarship. Students have expressed that their involvement with this project allowed them to discover categories of academic work, as well as scholarly communities, that they did not know existed, both with respect to public history and the digital humanities. They have also expressed satisfaction at being able to contribute in a lasting way to a project that they regard as meaningful.

Student engagement with digital projects can also help institutions to build digital humanities curriculum and programs. Workshops like those we describe here can be an entry point for participants to discover semester-long digital humanities courses, as well as related majors, minors, or certificates. Digital humanities centers or institutes can also draw on the communities of students that coalesce through these workshops, appointing them as student representatives or involving them through other capacities, a type of partnership that can be important when seeking to design curriculum, expand programming, and raise the institutional profile of the center or institute.

After the disruptions caused by COVID-19, we are now making plans to resume our annual in-person workshops in Spring 2023. A new student leader will be identified to replace Hemmingway, and that individual will organize, promote, and operate the open workshop series, manage the project’s social media, and present on the project at various events. We also hope that Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection can play a central role in developing an online museum of North Florida African American History, a project led by the Africana Studies Program at UNF, with support from the Digital Humanities Institute and in partnership with numerous community organizations. As a step in this direction, faculty at UNF are currently seeking funding to begin a series of public events to take place at various venues in the historically African American neighborhoods of Jacksonville.58 One of the proposed events for Spring 2023 will be a digital editing workshop with community members, paired with a discussion of how UNF might best utilize the materials in the Eartha M. M. White Collection to reconnect with and benefit Black communities in Jacksonville.59

Because the project has always focused primarily on developing methods for collaboratively building the digital archive, we have never sought to fix a prospective completion date. We have prioritized thinking about the pedagogical, theoretical, and practical aspects of engaging the campus, and one day the larger community, in a collaborative process of this sort. At our current rate, many more years—a decade at least—would be needed to exhaust the supply of materials available to edit in the Collection. Well before we might reach such a point, however, the website of Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection may transition from being a showcase for this pedagogically focused endeavor to a more permanent digital archive, dedicated to the public presentation of finished materials in a sustainable fashion. Such a transition ideally would be carried out in a fashion that integrates the project more closely with the digital offerings of the library.60

If Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection eventually reached such a state of completion, with no remaining material to edit, the project—with a more general name perhaps—could also continue as an input to other digital endeavors focused on local African American history, a kind of Black Jacksonville digital editing workshop that could function on a regular, ongoing basis. The materials edited might come not only from UNF’s Special Collections but also from local repositories like the Jacksonville Historical Society, the St. Augustine Historical Society, and the Jacksonville Public Library.

The workshops described in this article can serve a variety of purposes. They can create spaces in which communities can participate in the recovery of local history and help shape narratives about the places they live. These events expand the base of contributors who engage with a project, attracting students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader public. For both digital projects and archives themselves, they can be a mechanism for connecting with stakeholder communities, gaining the perspective and support of those groups, and engaging with those constituencies in the conduct of public history. In addition, they can be a means for creating hands-on opportunities for the students who will serve as the next generation of scholars working at the intersections of public history, archives, and digital humanities.

The model discussed in this article is not inherently specific to digital editing projects, nor to projects related to archival materials. Any digital public history undertaking involving work that can be divided up and distributed in small units could employ or adapt this paradigm. With the exception of the more specific details related to implementation, most of this essay could apply in other settings.

The model does, however, work particularly well with textual projects. This is in part because the work involved with transcription and encoding can be organized in a fashion that presents relatively low barriers for new contributors. It is also because of the immediacy of archival documents. No specialized background or interests are necessary for participants to become curious about personal letters and other writings that provide insight into the past. The opportunity to contribute to the online dissemination of unpublished materials has a broad appeal, particularly when those documents can—as in the case of the Eartha M. M. White Collection—play a role in recovering stories that have been overlooked, lost, or erased.

For their help and support, the authors would like to thank Dr. Noelle Baker, Dr. Felicia Bevel, Jennifer Bibb, Dr. Karen Cousins, Dr. Patricia Geesey, Dr. Laura Heffernan, Dr. Gregory Helmick, Dr. Aisha Johnson–Jones, Dr. Wanda Lastrapes, Dr. Tru Leverette, Courtenay McLeland, Dr. Dan Richard, Andy Rush, Dr. David Sheffler, Joshua Smith, Joleen Stahl, Susan Swiatosz, Susan Williams, and Dr. Richmond Wynn. They would also like to thank the following entities at UNF: Thomas G. Carpenter Library; Digital Humanities Institute; Department of History; Center for Instruction and Research Technology; Africana Studies Program; Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Office of Undergraduate Research; Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; Center for Community–Based Learning; African American Faculty Staff Association; Black Student Union; and Department of Diversity Initiatives.


“TEI: History,” Text Encoding Initiative, www.tei– For help in getting started using TEI-XML, see the resources listed on “Teach Yourself TEI,” Text Encoding Initiative,


With respect to the ethos of inclusion that is widespread in the field today, see the call for submissions for volume 40 of Scholarly Editing: “We particularly seek the contributions of researchers from Black, Latinx, and Indigenous peoples; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people and cultures of the Global South as well as those who have expertise in the histories and literatures of those groups and peoples, including documentary editors, textual scholars, historians, educators, genealogists, family historians, students, librarians, archivists, and community members,” Association for Documentary Editing, Another example can be found in the “Community Statement” that is part of the constitution of the Association for Documentary Editing, which references the “multiple communities engaged in a range of editorial practices” that make up the organization, as well as “the diverse constituencies supported and empowered by editions, works of recovery, and digital projects,” pointing directly to the social function of editorial work: “Documentary works enable the generation of knowledge, support personal and community memory through works of recovery, and assist educators in introducing original source materials in classroom environments. In many instances, particularly decolonial initiatives, our community constituencies are also collaborators in addressing past archival erasures and silences, and in imagining new technical approaches for amplifying narratives and texts,” Association for Documentary Editing,


For examples, see Daniel Apollon, Claire Bélisle, and Philippe Régnier, eds., Digital Critical Editions (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014); Lou Burnard, Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, and John Unsworth, eds., Electronic Textual Editing (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2006); Jerome McGann, “Why Digital Textual Scholarship Matters: or, Philology in a New Key,” in The Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship, ed. Neil Fraistat and Julia Flanders (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 274–88; Matthew James Driscoll and Elena Pierazzo, eds., Digital Scholarly Editing: Theories and Practices (Cambridge, England: Open Book Publishers, 2016); Julianne Nyhan, “Text Encoding and Scholarly Digital Edition,” in Digital Humanities in Practice, ed. Claire Warwick, Melissa Terras and Julianne Nyhan (London: Facet, 2012), 117–37; Elena Pierazzo, Digital Scholarly Editing: Theories, Models and Methods (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015); and Elena Pierazzo, “A Rationale of Digital Documentary Editions,” Literary & Linguistic Computing 26, no. 4 (2011): 463–77.


Among the most prominent examples are Claire Battershill and Shawna Ross, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers and Students (London: Bloomsbury Academic, [2017]); Brett D. Hirsch, ed., Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics ([Cambridge, England]: Open Book Publishers, 2012); Ann R. Hawkins, ed., Digital Humanities Pedagogy (focused on DH in the English curriculum), special issue of CEA Critic 76, no. 2 (2014); and Emily Christina Murphy and Shannon R. Smith, eds., Imagining the DH Undergraduate: Special Issue in Undergraduate Education in DH, special issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3 (2017). Other studies include Roopika Risam, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2019); Chris A. Sula and S. E. Hackney, “A Survey of Digital Humanities Programs,” Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy 11 (2017): 15–40; Anna Wing–bo Tso, Digital Humanities and New Ways of Teaching (Singapore: Springer, 2019); and Meredith J. C. Warren, “Teaching with Technology: Using Digital Humanities to Engage Student Learning,” Teaching Theology & Religion 19, no. 3 (2016): 309–19.


For an example of scholarship addressing each of these topics, see, respectively, Simon Mahony and Elena Pierazzo, “Teaching Skills or Teaching Methodology?” in Hirsch, Digital Humanities Pedagogy, 215–25; Brandon T. Locke, “Digital Humanities Pedagogy as Essential Liberal Education: A Framework for Curriculum Development,” in Murphy and Smith, Imagining the DH Undergraduate; Kara Kennedy, “A Long–Belated Welcome: Accepting Digital Humanities Methods into Non–DH Classrooms,” in Murphy and Smith, Imagining the DH Undergraduate; and Hirsch, “Digital Humanities and the Place of Pedagogy,” in Hirsch, Digital Humanities Pedagogy, 3–30.


Mackenzie Brooks, “Teaching TEI to Undergraduates: a Case Study in a Digital Humanities Curriculum,” College and Undergraduate Libraries 24, no. 2–4 (2017): 1–15; Amanda Gailey, “Teaching Attentive Reading and Motivated Writing through Digital Editing,” in Hawkins, Digital Humanities Pedagogy: 191–99; Francesca Giannetti, “‘So Near While Apart’: Correspondence Editions as Critical Library Pedagogy and Digital Humanities Methodology,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 45, no. 5 (June 2019); Malte Rehbein and Christiane Fritze, “Hands–On Teaching Digital Humanities: A Didactic Analysis of a Summer School Course on Digital Editing,” in Hirsch, Digital Humanities Pedagogy, 47–78; and Kate Singer, “Digital Close Reading: TEI for Teaching Poetic Vocabularies,” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy 3 (2013).


While some scholars have pointed to this connection, work focused directly on the digital humanities as a forum for experiential learning is relatively scarce. Among the studies that do exist, many relate to the learning of digital methods and skills in the context of libraries and archives, or collaboration between archivists and teaching faculty. See Douglas A. Boyd, Janice W. Fernheimer, and Rachel Dixon, “Indexing as Engaging Oral History Research: Using OHMS to ‘Compose History’ in the Writing Classroom,” The Oral History Review 42, no. 2 (2015): 352–67; Kayo Denda and Jennifer Hunter, “Building 21st Century Skills and Creating Communities: A Team–Based Engagement Framework for Student Employment in Academic Libraries,” Journal of Library Administration 56, no. 3 (April 2016): 251–65; Arianne Hartsell–Gundy, Kelley Lawton, and Hannah Rozear, “17 Librarians and One Big Undertaking: Creating a Digital Project from Start to Finish,” Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 32, no. 1 (2020): 19–28; Deborah Tritt and Carey Heatherly, “Practitioners as Professors: Experiential Learning in the Distance Digital Liberal Arts Classroom,” College & Undergraduate Libraries 24, no. 2–4 (2017): 545–58. Two recent studies that take a high–level look at experiential learning—outside the context of the digital humanities—are Jayson Seaman, Mike Brown, and John Quay, “The Evolution of Experiential Learning Theory: Tracing Lines of Research in the JEE,” Journal of Experiential Education 40, no. 4 (2017); and Ruth Heilbronn, Christine Doddington, and Rupert Higham, eds., Dewey and Education in the 21st Century: Fighting Back (Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018).


Lydia Bello, Madelynn Dickerson, Margaret Hogarth, and Ashley Sanders, “Librarians Doing DH: A Team and Project–Based Approach to Digital Humanities in the Library,” Collaborative Librarianship 9, no. 2 (2017): 97–103; Jane A. Burns, “Role of the Information Professional in the Development and Promotion of Digital Humanities Content for Research, Teaching, and Learning in the Modern Academic Library: An Irish Case Study,” New Review of Academic Librarianship 22, nos. 2–3 (2016): 238–48; Theresa Burress and Chelcie J. Rowell, “Project Management for Digital Projects with Collaborators Beyond the Library,” College & Undergraduate Libraries 24, no. 2–4 (2017): 300–21; Brett D. Currier, Rafia Mirza, and Jeff Downing, “They Think All of This is New: Leveraging Librarians’ Project Management Skills for the Digital Humanities,” College & Undergraduate Libraries 24, no. 2–4 (2017): 270–89; Arianne Hartsell–Gundy, Laura Braunstein, and Liorah Golomb, eds., Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists ([Chicago]: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2015); Sarah L. Moazeni, “Integrating Digital Humanities into the Library and Information Science Curriculum,” Public Services Quarterly 11, no. 3 (2015): 225–31; Alex H. Poole, “‘A Greatly Unexplored Area’: Digital Curation and Innovation in Digital Humanities,” Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology 68, no. 7 (2017): 1772–81; Miriam Posner, “No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library,” Journal of Library Administration 53, no. 1 (2013): 43–52; Susan Powell and Ningning N. Kong, “Beyond the One–Shot: Intensive Workshops as a Platform for Engaging the Library in Digital Humanities,” College & Undergraduate Libraries 24, no. 2–4 (2017): 516–31; Robin Rice and John Southall, The Data Librarian’s Handbook (London: Facet: 2016), 144; John Russell, “Supporting Digital Humanities,” Online Searcher 41, no. 2 (2017): 49–52; Rebekah W. Shun Han, “Digital Humanities: What Can Libraries Offer?” Libraries and the Academy 16, no. 4 (2016): 669–90; Chris A. Sula, “Digital Humanities and Libraries: A Conceptual Model,” Journal of Library Administration 53, no. 1 (2013): 10–26; Edin Tabak, “A Hybrid Model for Managing DH Projects,” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly 11, no. 1 (2017); Fred Truyen and Demmy Verbeke, “The Library as a Valued Partner in Digital Humanities Projects: The Example of EuropeanaPhotography,” Art Libraries Journal 40, no. 2 (2015): 28–33; Elías Tzoc, “Libraries and Faculty Collaboration: Four Digital Scholarship Examples,” Journal of Web Librarianship 10, no. 2 (2016): 124–36; John W. White and Heather Gilbert, Laying the Foundation: Digital Humanities in Academic Libraries (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2016); Emma Annette Wilson, Digital Humanities for Librarians (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020).


Alison Cullingford, The Special Collections Handbook, 2nd ed. (S. L.: Facet Publishing, 2016), 150; Harriett E. Green, “Facilitating Communities of Practice in Digital Humanities: Librarian Collaborations for Research and Training in Text Encoding,” Library Quarterly 84, no. 2 (2014): 219–34; Athena N. Jackson, “Forging into the Future: Facing Digital Realities and Forecasting Endeavors for Special Collections Librarianship,” in Forging the Future of Special Collections, eds. Melissa A. Hubbard, Robert H. Jackson, and Arnold Hirshon (Chicago: ALA Neal–Schuman, 2016), 53–59; and Alice Schreyer, “Everything Old Is New Again: Transformation in Special Collections,” in Hubbard, Jackson, and Hirshon, Forging the Future, 74–84.


For special collections and archives in teaching, see Sarah Berry, “Students in the Archives: A Short Report on a Significant Learning Experience,” Currents in Teaching & Learning 3, no. 2 (2011): 33–41; Morgan Daniels and Elizabeth Yakel, “Uncovering Impact: The Influence of Archives on Student Learning,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39, no. 5 (2013): 414–22; Natalia Fernández, “Collaborations between Multicultural Educators and Archivists: Engaging Students with Multicultural History through Archival Research Projects,” Multicultural Perspectives 18, no. 3 (2016): 153–58; Kevin Gotkin, Benjamin Hebblethwaite, Timothy B. Powell, Suzy Taraba, and Sarah Werner, “Undergraduates in the Archives,” Archive Journal, 2012; Sammie Morris, Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, and Sharon A. Weiner, “Archival Literacy for History Students: Identifying Faculty Expectations of Archival Research Skills,” American Archivist 77, no. 2 (2014): 394–424; Silvia Vong, “A Constructivist Approach for Introducing Undergraduate Students to Special Collections and Archival Research,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Cultural Heritage 17, no. 2 (2016): 148–71; and Peter J. Wosh, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Esther Katz, “Teaching Digital Skills in an Archives and Public History Curriculum,” in Hirsch, Digital Humanities Pedagogy, 79–96. For archives and community engagement, see Alexandrina Buchanan and Michelle Bastian, “Activating the Archive: Rethinking the Role of Traditional Archives for Local Activist Projects,” Archival Science 15, no. 4 (2015): 429–51; Whitney Douglas, “Looking Outward: Archival Research as Community Engagement,” Community Literacy Journal 11, no. 2 (2017): 30–42; Lydia E. Ferguson, “Researching the Past to Write the Present: Archival Research, Civic Engagement, and Liberal Arts Advocacy,” Journal for Cultural & Religious Theory 16, no. 1 (2017): 40–51; Kevin S. Fleming and Morna Gerrard, “Engaging Communities: Public Programming in State Universities’ Special Collections and Archives,” Archival Issues: Journal of the Midwest Archives Conference 36, no. 1 (2014), 7–26; and Nancy L. Godoy–Powell and Elizabeth G. Dunham, “21st Century Community Outreach and Collection Development: ASU Chicano/a Research Collection,” Journal of Western Archives 8, no. 1 (2017).


We do not discuss here scholarship related to crowdsourcing, as we do not regard the model we propose as falling within that category of activity. Crowdsourcing in the context of archives and editorial projects often takes the form of “Transcribathons,” in which members of the public are marshaled to make mass contributions to the transcription of archival documents, either at in-person or online events. This type of activity is also carried out asynchronously in many cases through the use of transcription interfaces like FromThePage and the Scripto plugin for Omeka. While these opportunities are important ways to connect publics with archival material, as well as potentially accomplish large amounts of transcription work, we believe our model differs from those types of activities for two reasons. First, our project is not primarily about transcription, but rather a more complete editorial process that involves participants in more complex ways. It also does not focus on product (getting materials transcribed) but rather on processes related to outreach and student development.


In their recent volume dedicated to this topic, Rebecca S. Wingo, Jason A. Heppler, and Paul Schadewald describe such projects as “co-creative,” argue that they are fundamentally “reciprocal” as opposed to “extractive,” and suggest that they create situations in which “academics and communities can learn from each others’ methodologies.” Rebecca S. Wingo, Jason A. Heppler, and Paul Schadewald, eds., Digital Community Engagement: Partnering Communities with the Academy (Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati Press, 2020), 12, 17. As Wingo, Heppler and Schadewald observe (8), other recent collections that address digital collaborations between communities and academics include the Handbook of Digital Public History, edited by Serge Noiret, Mark Tebeau, and Gerben Zaagsma (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2022) and Digital Engagements; Or, the Virtual Gets Real, a special issue of Public: A Journal of Imagining America, vol. 4, no. 4 (2018). Ian McShane and Bhavna Middha examine digital community engagement in the context of collaborative urban planning in “Expectations and Realities of Digital Public Spaces: A Case Study of Digital Community Engagement in Melbourne, Australia,” Articulo–Journal of Urban Research, vol. 22 (2022).


Thomas Cauvin, Public History: A Textbook of Practice (New York: Routledge, 2016), 127–29. This connection underlies Wosh, et al., “Teaching Digital Skills.”


As Peter J. Wosh points out, “public history and archives professionals remain peculiarly isolated from each other, as well as from academic historians.” See “Reflections on Public History and Archives Education,” Journal of Archival Organization 15, no. 3–4 (2018): 95–99. Melinda Haunton and Georgie Salzedo build on this idea, arguing for greater collaboration between archivists and public historians. See Haunton and Salzedo, “‘A Duty, an Opportunity and a Pleasure’: Connecting Archives and Public History,” Archives and Records 42, no. 1 (2021): 40–57.


Several examples of relevant scholarship are found in The Public Historian, vol. 42, no. 4 (November 2020). Rhondda Robinson Thomas discusses the project Call My Name at Clemson University, which seeks to uncover and honor the lives of the Black laborers in the institution’s past in “Meeting the Challenge of Honoring Clemson University’s Invisible Black Founders,” 41–55. Chana Kai Lee discusses work at the University of Georgia that has met with greater administrative resistance in “A Fraught Reckoning: Exploring the History of Slavery at the University of Georgia,” 12–27. Hilary Green describes her efforts to make visible the history of slavery, and in particular the experiences of enslaved women, at the University of Alabama in “The Burden of the University of Alabama’s Hallowed Grounds,” 28–40.


For a discussion and review of sources on this topic, see the section “Experiential Learning and Internships in the Humanities” in Clayton McCarl, “An Approach to Designing Project-Based Digital Humanities Internships,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 15, no. 3 (2020).


Daniel Schafer, “Eartha Mary Magdalene White,” in Notable American Women: The Modern Period: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1980), 726–28; Maxine D. Jones, “‘Without Compromise or Fear’: Florida’s African American Female Activists,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 77, no. 4 (1999): 475–502 (White is discussed on 483–88).


See “Daniel L. Schafer,” University of North Florida Department of History, The remainder of her papers are held at the Eartha M. M. White Historical Museum and Resource Center at the Clara White Mission.


Personal correspondence with Susan Swiatosz, August 8, 2022.


“Eartha M. M. White Papers,” University of North Florida Thomas G. Carpenter Library,


Sources on early twentieth-century LaVilla and other Black neighborhoods include Peter Dunbaugh Smith, A Cultural History of the First Jazz and Blues Communities in Jacksonville, Florida, 1896–1916: A Contribution of African Americans to American Theatre (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2015); Robert Cassanello, To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013); and Mary F. M. Jameson, Remembering Neighborhoods of Jacksonville, Florida: Oakland, Campbell’s Addition, East Jacksonville, Fairfield: The African-American Influence (St. Louis: Mira Digital Publishing, 2010).


See Ennis Davis and Bill Delaney, “The Forgotten Factor Behind Downtown Jax’s Struggles,” Modern Cities, December 14, 2021.


For a detailed history of how the decision was made, see Daniel Schafer, From Scratch Pads and Dreams: A Ten Year History of the University of North Florida, University of North Florida, 1982, 31–54, UNF Digital Commons,


Quoted in Schafer, From Scratch Pads, 31.


Schafer, From Scratch Pads, 31.


Thomas C. Healy, William C. Merwin, and John P. Minahan, “An Urban University Moves Downtown,” The Journal of Continuing Higher Education 28, no. 3 (1980): 12–14.


Hurst pointed to this in a round table hosted by UNF as part of its series “The Justice Sessions” on Tuesday, February 22, 2022.


The former Hemming Plaza, renamed James Weldon Johnson Park in 2020, was the site of the notorious 1960 incident known as Ax Handle Saturday, in which white residents assaulted African American youth who were protesting the segregated lunch counters at a department store located diagonally from MOCA, today city hall.


See “UNF Downtown Center—Galleria Building,” Thomas G. Carpenter Library, University of North Florida,; and Schafer, From Scratch Pads, 85–86. Undergraduate catalogs from the era also contain descriptions of the Downtown Center, such as that on page 2 of the 1979–80 version, available through the UNF Digital Commons, Numerous photographs and references in undergraduate catalogs, yearbooks, issues of the student newspaper Spinnaker, and other sources can be also found on the Digital Commons by searching with the term Galleria. Ennis Davis discussed the Downtown Center recently in the online publication The Jaxon. See “Five Lost Colleges & Universities of the Inner City,” The Jaxon, April 9, 2020,


See “University Profile,” University of North Florida,; and “UNF Fall Faculty Dashboard,” Office of Institutional Research, University of North Florida, According to the US Census Bureau, on July 1, 2021, Jacksonville/Duval County had a total population of 999,935, and 329,049 were Black or African American. See “Population Characteristics Release Updates,” United States Census Bureau,


Diversity is mentioned in the institution’s statements of vision, values, and unity. See “UNF’s Mission & Vision,”, University of North Florida.


See “Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” University of North Florida, The CDO is currently Dr. Richmond Wynn. See “UNF Names Dr. Richmond Wynn as Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer,” University of North Florida, February 15, 2022,


In recent years, the College of Arts and Sciences has hired several tenure track faculty members in disciplinary departments who have an affiliation with the Africana Studies Program, which in 2022 received approval for the creation of an Africana Studies major from the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. Dr. Tru Leverette directs the Africana Studies Program.


See “2019 Summary of the Findings,” on “Campus Climate Survey,” University of North Florida,


Joshua Smith, “Opinion: Being Black on Campus is About Perseverance,” Spinnaker, University of North Florida, May 17, 2022,


See the “2020 Census Demographic Data Map Viewer,” United States Census Bureau, (search for “Jacksonville” and select the tab labeled “Black or African American”).


To travel from the Clara White Mission in LaVilla to the UNF campus, for instance, could involve multiple buses and take between an hour and ninety minutes, depending on the time of day (by car the route would generally take between one-quarter of the time or less). These estimates are from Google Maps, which the Jacksonville Transportation Authority uses as a route planner. Most residents of the North Side using public transit would be traveling from farther away than the Clara White Mission.


Isabel Pease, “UNF Center Downtown is a Hub for Entrepreneurism,” UNF Journal, Summer 2019, The university has also built stronger connections to the urban core through the Center for Urban Education and Policy, housed in the College of Education and Human Services and led by Dr. Christopher Janson and Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr. See “Center for Urban Education and Policy,” University of North Florida,


This was an undergraduate course in which one Master of Arts student in English also participated via a graduate-level directed independent study course. We regard it as experimental because it was being taught for the first time and was largely focused on collaboratively developing a model for such a course. This experiment was part of the process of creating new curriculum for the minor in digital humanities, a project of the Digital Humanities Institute that resulted in the addition of that new program of study to the catalog in fall 2017.


For a more detailed discussion of that initial phase, see Clayton McCarl, “Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection: An Experiment in Engaging Students in Archival Research and Editorial Practice,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 44:4 (2018): 527–37.


This new start for the project occurred when Williams approached McCarl as director of the Digital Humanities Institute, inquiring about opportunities for internships that would fulfill the studio requirement for the minor in digital humanities.


Clayton McCarl, “White Folks in the Black Archive: Questions of Power, Ethics and Race around a Digital Editing Project,” in Archives and Special Collections as Sites of Contestation, ed. Mary Kandiuk (Sacramento: Library Juice Press, 2020), 285–305.


The connection with Edward H. White High School was coordinated initially by the UNF Center for Community-Based Learning, which had an existing relationship with that institution.


Hemmingway’s work that semester was supported in part by the UNF Department of History through the Dr. Carolyn Williams Research Award.


The students in the Summer 2016 course wrote reflective essays at the end of the term. While this type of in-depth written reflection can be assigned to research interns, that is generally not the case with contributors who are not earning academic credit nor receiving compensation. In 2020 and 2021, we choose instead to distribute short surveys for occasional participants, asking those who later become regular attendees to respond to a more extensive questionnaire. These surveys also gather information on the new historical insight gained by participating in the project and spending time with the primary sources.


We have never rejected any work by participants, but rather have carried out whatever remaining work was needed to complete items and ready them for publication. Other projects might justifiably choose to address this differently.


For examples of social media posts from 2020 through 2021, see the project’s Instagram account,


For examples from our project, see “Editorial Criteria,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,; and “Resources,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,


Younger contributors who are not familiar with cursive may sometimes find handwritten documents more difficult to read, at least initially. Likewise, one-column documents with left-to-right text will be considerably more straightforward for beginning contributors than documents with more complex layouts, including those that have interlineal and marginal insertions or other similar characteristics.


The following, for example, are short items from Spring 2018 and Spring 2021, respectively: “Letter from M. E. J. Washington to Eartha M. M. White, Jacksonville, FL, July 22, 1920,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,; and “Flyer for War Work Campaign Mass Meeting,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida, The following are two longer, more complex items from Spring 2020: “Letter from Leroy Daniel Singleton to Eartha M. M. White, September 11, 1930,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,; and “Souvenir Program of Women’s Day Activities, June 23, 1957,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,


For an example, see “Editorial Criteria,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,


For our standard template, as well as a version customized for a specific document, see “Reference,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,


For information about this platform, see “About TEI Boilerplate,” Indiana University,


In our case, this must be done by using a remote access client, which can present unwanted complexity.


For a list, see “Editors,” Text Encoding Initiative,


To some extent, this type of distortion may always be present, despite any efforts to select documents that represent the diversity of the collection. Even if the entire collection were edited, we would still be dealing with an arbitrary set of materials. We do not know what White’s criteria were in retaining the materials, and UNF possesses only part of her papers.


For a list of all presentations related to the project, see “Presentations and Publications,” Editing the Eartha M. M. White Collection, University of North Florida,


Aside from the undergraduate research grants that Hemmingway received in support of his work, the project itself to date has received no funding.


Also key to that endeavor is the Viola Muse Digital Archive, a project supported by a Scholarly Editions and Scholarly Translations Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. See Viola Muse Digital Archive, University of North Florida,


Currently, the project benefits from a commitment to the long-term hosting of its interactive output by the Digital Humanities Institute and the Center for Instruction and Research Technology, and the Library has expressed interest in hosting static versions of the documents in PDF format alongside document images in the Digital Commons.