Center for Digital History and Education and New Media Studio Develop iPad App

The Center for Digital History and Education (CDHE) and the New Media Studio have developed an iPad app based on their recent project, “Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families.”  The app is now available for free in the Apple App Store here.

“Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families” is an interactive exploration into the lives of children who actually lived in colonial America. The navigation and enhanced content enliven the stories of three families in London Town, Maryland from before the Revolutionary War.

A screenshot from the new app.

A screenshot from the new app.

The app features include interactive timelines, historical and thematic maps, image galleries, a clickable glossary of terms and people, and a teaching guide.

The stories were written by elementary school teachers in graduate course work at UMBC, under the direction of Marjoleine Kars, chair of history. Rachel Brubaker, CDHE, directed the digital project. Bill Shewbridge, director of the New Media Studio, oversaw the app design.

“Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town” builds on a successful grant partnership between the CDHE, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and Historic London Town and Gardens. Funding for the project was provided by the United States Department of Education’s Teaching American History Grant Program.

A companion website was developed in 2012. The project received the 2012 Social Studies Program of Excellence Award from the Middle States Regional Council for the Social Studies, an affiliate of the National Council for the Social Studies.

UMBC video documentaries in The Baltimore Sun capture voice, history of Sparrows Point steelworkers

In a gripping Baltimore Sun feature story on the lives of former steel mill workers after the closing of Sparrows Point, video documentaries from the UMBC project “Documenting Cultural Heritage in Partnership with Communities” (supported by BreakingGround) offer important first-person perspectives on life and work in the community.

UMBC students interviewed former mill employees while learning about oral and audiovisual storytelling and documentation. The steelworkers shared their stories of working at the mill, the impact the Sparrows Point closure has had on the community, and the future of the industry locally and nationally. Bill Shewbridge (New Media Studio) and Michelle Stefano (American Studies) collaborated to bring to life a project that introduced students to the ideas, techniques and ethical considerations that underpin qualitative research, particularly from a community-based, out-in-the-field perspective.

Baltimore Sun Features UMBC Faculty, Students in Front-Page BreakingGround Story

BreakingGround Sun storyToday’s Baltimore Sun features a front-page story about students in two UMBC courses shedding light on the human side of Baltimore’s industrial past. The students, guided by New Media Studio director Bill Shewbridge and American Studies folklorist in residence Michelle Stefano, are helping tell the stories of steelworkers from the now-defunct Sparrows Point Steel Mill, which once employed thousands. The mill has been shuttered and is being sold for scrap.

The oral history project is supported by a BreakingGround course development grant. The article also describes several other BreakingGround courses and projects through which people from UMBC are solving problems and working with community partners to make innovative contributions to the common good. For additional details on BreakingGround, see the project website, myUMBC group or #digUMBC on Twitter.

Video Produced by New Media Studio Featured in the New York Times

On December 10, the New York Times profiled weather prognosticator William O’Toole, III, of the J. Gruber’s Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack in an article entitled “Divining the Weather, With Methods Old and New.”

Maryland Traditions, the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council, which is a partner with UMBC, recently honored the Almanack with its annual “Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts” Award. Maryland Traditions partnered with the New Media Studio to produce a short film for the awards ceremony, which was featured in the New York Times story.

The video can be seen here:

Center for History Education Introduces “Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town”

UMBC’s Center for History Education (CHE) has recently unveiled the Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families project, a digital storybook about real people who resided in London Town, a colonial-era trading port near Annapolis, Maryland. The project is the result of a collaboration between the CHE, elementary school teachers from Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and Historic London Town and Gardens. The U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching American History Grant Program provided funding.

The stories were developed through graduate coursework under the direction of Dr. Marjoleine Kars, chair and associate professor of history at UMBC, and Mary Davis, Anne Arundel County Public Schools resource teacher. The teachers working with Kars realized that focusing on children would generate interest among their 4th and 5th grade students studying the colonial period. The resulting narratives provide insight into the daily lives of three different families.

The teachers worked at London Town with Lisa Robbins, director of education, to research the children’s lives, making use of available primary sources like documents and artifacts, as well as secondary sources on the history of childhood. The resulting narratives span the early 1700s to the American Revolution. Read together, the stories are an inclusive portrait of life in London Town in the eighteenth-century colonial south. As a teaching resource, the book can be used across the disciplines and in a variety of subject areas.

The Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town website, which was developed by UMBC’s New Media Studio in conjunction with the CHE, has a number of interactive features, including maps, a timeline, and glossary.  Site visitors will also find additional background information on the people and places in the stories and learn more about present-day London Town. The website is an example of the digital humanities work taking place within UMBC’s Department of History.

The Center for History education seeks to strengthen and invigorate the teaching of history in Maryland schools through innovative professional development programs and resources for elementary, middle and high school educators. Graduate courses and summer institutes assist K–12 educators in enriching their history curriculum.

The project was the recipient of the 2012 Social Studies Program of Excellence Award from the Middle States Regional Council for the Social Studies, an affiliate of the National Council for the Social Studies.

For more information, contact

Bill Shewbridge, New Media Studio, in Urbanite

Bill Shewbridge, director of UMBC’s New Media Studio, spoke to Urbanite about the role technology plays on campus and in the lives of students.

“There is a tendency to think that students are digital natives,” says Bill Shewbridge, the director of the new media studio at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). “But uploading a picture to Facebook doesn’t make you a producer, much less an informed consumer.”

A television producer-turned-professor, Shewbridge discovered this after embarking on UMBC’s digital storytelling project eight years ago. To tell digital stories—short videos, usually for a particular class, that combine scriptwriting, interviewing, and research—students first needed to be taught video editing, audio recording, and image processing. Now, UMBC offers a multimedia literacy lab, a one-credit course taken concurrently with another class, where students learn those skills.

The article, “The Wired Campus,” appeared March 30 in Urbanite.

Faculty and Students Collaborate With Community on Historical Photos, Digital Stories


(Above, Bill Shewbridge and Lynn Casabon receive a proclamation from Sam Moxley, representing the county executive. Photo by Vin Grabill.)

In celebration of the new Arbutus Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, UMBC faculty and students worked with members of the surrounding community to display historic railroad photographs and create a series of digital stories about the area through residents’ eyes.

Lynn Cazabon, associate chair and associate professor of art, worked with students to create a series of mural-sized prints from historical photographs of the railroad in the Arbutus area, which are on permanent display in the new Arbutus Branch.

Intercultural Video Communication students, led by Bill Shewbridge, director of the New Media Studio, collaborated with community residents to combine photos, images and oral history for a series of short films. In “Arbutus Stories,” residents reflect on the community, share experiences and describe their hometown.

The digital stories are available on the Baltimore County Public Library and UMBC New Media Studio websites.

Below is an overview of the project:

Below is the digital story, “38 and a Half Years”: