Remembering Lincoln (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/) is an IMLS-funded project of Ford’s Theatre Society that serves to engage teachers, students, enthusiasts and scholars with primary sources detailing responses to the Lincoln assassination.
Remembering Lincoln brings together letters, diaries, newspapers, mourning ribbons, lithographs and photographs contributed by more than 40 libraries, archives and museums from across the United States (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/contributors), plus some individual collectors and even descendants of people who experienced this event.
The goal of the Remembering Lincoln website is to localize and personalize this well-known and oft-recounted event. It is an example of how interpretation and storytelling can be accomplished on the Web in ways that might not be possible for a physical exhibition. It encourages users to weigh evidence from primary materials to draw conclusions about how the assassination affected individuals and institutions in their own communities, as well as to compare reactions across communities.
Remembering Lincoln engages users through a series of interpretive sections (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/exhibit/introduction) that allow for exploration of items through short biographies of some responders (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/exhibit/people), plus an interactive timeline (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/exhibit/events) and map (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/exhibit/places).
Users are able to interact with thematic collection items from multiple repositories without leaving their homes (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/browse). Users can search by region, tag, or keyword. Each item page contains standardized metadata providing context for the item, plus a zoomable and downloadable image (example: http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/192). Ford’s encouraged contributors to add transcriptions and rich metadata to allow for further engagement and understanding. Since many items remain untranscribed, Ford’s has been working with a set of K-12 classrooms to complete transcriptions and allow for greater ability for users to find interesting and relevant items.
To help teachers bring Remembering Lincoln into the classroom, it also includes Teaching Modules (http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/teaching-modules) that draw on primary sources in the database. Ford’s is working with teachers to add more modules.
Ford’s launched the site on March 18, 2015, for the 150th anniversary of the assassination.
The launch brought about an increased number of contributions, as well as positive publicity and praise from leaders in the field. Traffic has continued to grow, and teachers have reported using the site in the classroom. Focus groups with recent museum visitors and teachers, as well as a survey taken by 100 teachers, have shown how users are engaging with this material and provided feedback for improvement. Several teachers, for example, commented on how their students connected with the assassination emotionally, not just intellectually.
One teacher has brought his students into local archives to find responses to include in the collection (http://blog.fords.org/2016/02/17/citizen-historians/). Ford’s is currently seeking contributions from more institutions and individuals.