Each group of 3-4 students will create an online research-based project and a short (10-15 minute) documentary-style video about the history of an artifact of American technology. [Topics cannot duplicate those of other groups, cannot duplicate those of previous HIST 325 projects at (unless you can make the case that they will improve on those projects in some substantive way), and cannot overlap with those covered in class lectures.]  Each group’s digital project, created in WordPress, and video, posted with their digital project, will be linked to the class projects page and will explain the background and invention or adoption of the piece of technology, as well as examining its impact on American society and culture. Advance deadlines have been set for topic approval, proposal with bibliography, project outlines/storyboards, the research-based digital project, and the documentary, as well as a chance to revise one of the projects; be sure to meet these deadlines.  Students will receive a group grade and an individual grade for the research-based site and for the documentary.


1) Research-based WordPress site

Each group will create a research-based WordPress site about the history of an artifact of American technology that they find interesting.  Your blog will be used to present your proposal, create a skeleton outline, and the final project, as well as host the video you create, and will be linked to the class projects page.  [Trouble choosing a theme? See here.]

Areas each project should cover:

1) Background – should include information on antecedents or influences.
2) Invention – Explain why this artifact was invented and what perceived “need” it fulfilled.
3) Adoption of the artifact of technology – should include any alternatives to the technology and an explanation of why one technology succeeded over others.
4) Impact of the technology on American economy, military, society and culture. [Not all of these may be applicable to your technology, but at least some will be.]
5) Footnotes/Endnotes and Bibliography – Cite the sources for all quotes, ideas, information, images, or video.

Although there might be slight differences for each topic, these are the basic content areas that each web site should cover.

A note on website appearance
Digital sites allow historians to present information in different ways, so take advantage of them. Part of your grade on this project is based on using that medium in creative ways.

1) A good digital project is clear and well organized, making it easy to navigate and get information.

  • Pages on the website should be appealing, consistent and laid out in a logical manner for the topic.
  • The content should be appropriate for your audience, clear, and well-written (with no errors in grammar or spelling).

2) A good digital project also takes advantage of the possibilities of the Web without letting them interfere with the communication of information.

  • This should not just be the text of a research paper dumped onto a web page.
  • Use  links in logical and helpful ways.
  • Use pictures and graphics, where appropriate and available.
  • Use timelines and maps and other digital tools, where appropriate.

For the WordPress site, clever and creative presentation is welcome, but it’s not an acceptable substitute for content.

If you have any questions please ask me.


2) Documentary-style video (10-15 minutes)

Whereas the WordPress research site should be rigorous and scholarly in approach (using thorough citation), the documentary video can be more creative and fun.  Think about how you might take what your group has learned about the technology you’re studying and convey that in a visual and auditory format.

In 10-15 minutes, the documentary should address some aspect of your technology–its history, its impact, its story–in a way that appeals to a different (broader?) audience than your website.  The video can take a serious, (Ken Burns-ian?) documentary approach, or can be more mockumentary than documentary, or something more creative.  You can use interviews, images, public domain clips (see, and your own narrations.

The video should include references to all sources at the end, should be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, and embedded on your project site.

If you have any questions please ask me.