Public History/Digital Humanities

The DOCUMERICA Environmental Education Project (DEEP)

still picture id number 412-da-2753; rediscovery id number 25246;The DOCUMERICA Environmental Education Project (DEEP) is an ongoing digital humanities project that uses photos taken during the 1970s as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Project DOCUMERICA” to teach high school and undergraduate students environmental and American history (the collection was recently been the subject of an exhibit by the National Archives and Records Administration entitled “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project”–check out a review of the exhibit on Slate). Working with Quanta, created through Arizona State University’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, high school students from around Arizona were involved in the pilot project.  They chose photos from the collection, build custom research projects around the photos and, working with mentors at ASU, completed their projects. I also incorporate the project into my undergraduate courses. The project and research are the subject of a book project and, optimistically, an interactive, educational website.

Water, Power, and Community in the Valley of the Sun: Interpreting the Phoenix Metropolitan region through the Salt River Project Canal System

Arizona Falls on the Arizona Canal, early 1900s

Arizona Falls on the Arizona Canal, early 1900s, Courtesy SRP

This public history and digital humanities project melds traditional interpretation and web- and mobile-based tools to curate the Phoenix Metropolitan area according to the most essential element for life in the region: water. Through collaboration with the Salt River Project, a local utility, students in my upper division history of the American West and Environment course in Spring 2013 began conceptualizing how to understand the history of the Phoenix area through humans’ ongoing attempts to obtain water and the region’s expansive canal system.  In 2014, working with graduate students in ASU’s public history program, we moved this project to the next phase including gathering content to create signage and for a interactive mobile-optimized website.


Dragoon Mountains, Cochise Co., AZ

Dragoon Mountains, Cochise Co., AZ

This is an ambitious public and digital humanities program that seeks to curate the U.S.-Mexico borderlands from the Colorado River to the Rio Grande developed with fellow environmental and Western historian, Paul Hirt. When finished, this project will blend the best in borderlands theory and historiography with public programming and digital applications to provide residents and visitors with a deeper understanding of this storied landscape.  Eventual products will include a mobile-first, geolocated interpretive website (click here to see an example created for a similar project Paul Hirt directed for the Grand Canyon), a digital mobile tour, public cultural and heritage programming, and support for digitizing and indexing oral histories in more than a dozen communities in the project area.  Over the past two years, we have created a network of dozens of advisers and community partners in more than 15 borderlands communities.  We received a Planning Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in August 2014, submitted our application for an Implementation Grant in Summer 2015 and are eagerly waiting to fully implement the project.

Stories of the REACH 

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 12.26.57 PMThis digital humanities project uses a mobile-first, geo-located website and mobile application to extend the The REACH the Hanford Reach National Monument Interpretive Center) beyond the walls of the museum. “Stories of the REACH interprets the human and natural history of the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River, the Manhattan Project, and the Mid-Columbia Basin. Check it out at