Defense of Contract and Final Reflections

The essential goal of our project, as stated in the Murray/Slaughter contract, was to digitize the letters of Montgomery Slaughter and George Murray, and we have been able to do so. We have completed our website, an Omeka-based digital archive that creatively displays our collections of letters from Murray and Slaughter.

In terms of the details of the contract, in broad strokes, we have done very well. Essentially everything was completed in terms of the website itself. We have not, however, done the intended publicity work, due to the constraints of time though I am willing to send some emails to that effect over the next few days. In terms of deadlines, we missed a few, though only the deadlines for having the letters uploaded and the StoryMap completed were missed by a significant margin. That delay was due primarily to technical difficulties and the fact that the group, due to the complications with Omeka’s item ordering and the relevant plug-in for that, believed we would have to upload the letters in a staggered fashion. The delays in getting Murray’s letters done meant that although I had Slaughter’s transcribed letters ready, we had decided I couldn’t upload them, as we wanted to complete the Murray collection in the complete order first. That ended up taking longer than anticipated. Despite that, once given the go-ahead, the Slaughter letters were up inside of two days. The StoryMap, which required looking at all of the letters, was also delayed as we focused on resolving the technical issues plaguing the letter uploads.

In terms of the parts of the project I was responsible for, my main regret is not fixing the transcriptions of the letters to the best of my ability before they went up on the site, as substantial parts were left blank on the transcriptions I was working with. However, I had a couple of difficulties that partially account for this, the main one of which is that I was working with handwritten transcriptions, which took far of my time in the special collections room than I expected, so I was unable to spend any time also working with the originals, which Kathleen had scanned. Until all items relating to the same letters were up on the website, which did not happen until weeks later than expected, I did not have any terribly convenient way to display both the original transcription and a separate description, so that ended up dropped from the agenda as I worked on other aspects of the project. Relating to this, another area in which the contract also ended up being slightly outdated over time was the tasks assigned to each member, as we ended up helping each other on tasks on originally assigned to one member; in my case, I assisted substantially with the StoryMap and helped with some of the initial planning and clip selection for the video.

Despite the challenges, I am overall pleased with the website. It was completed on time, the entire group was satisfied with how it looks, and it certainly achieves the basic task of digitizing the Murray-Slaughter letters. Overall, I am proud of the work we did for the website, and feel we fulfilled the spirit of our contract.