As an incoming freshman last year, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to work as a research assistant by my second semester at W&L. During orientation week, I met Dr. Stephanie Sandberg and learned about her play, Stories In Blue, which tells the stories of six sex trafficking survivors in Michigan. Through the Digital Humanities Initiative, I was given an opportunity to work with Dr. Sandberg on the adaptation of her play into a website that is a resource for people to learn more about the intricacies of domestic sex trafficking as well as how they can help bring it to an end.
In the first week of August, I traveled with Dr. Sandberg, Associate University Librarian Jeff Barry, Digital Humanities Fellow Sydney Bufkin and Digital Humanities Librarian Mackenzie Brooks to the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS) conference at the College of Wooster. As it says on their website, “ILiADS is a project-based and team-based opportunity for focused support of a digital project.” Making this conference unique, is the liaison model where each team is assigned an expert liaison who assists on different digital aspects of the project. Monday through Thursday were devoted to working as a team on our project, where we brainstormed what we wanted the structure of the website to be and then began building it as well as generating content. As a student with limited digital literacy skills, ILiADS provided me with an opportunity to not only take the research I have been collecting and turn it into synthesized articles, but to also learn more about what it takes to build a useable and informational website.
ILiADS is a great opportunity for students and faculty from different universities to come together for a week, work on digital humanities projects and compare what each of their institutions are doing to promote digital scholarship as technology becomes a necessity in higher learning. To be able to have this experience as a student was amazing for me because I not only got to see how important digital humanities is to our project at W&L, but how it is being used at other universities. Digital humanities is allowing the research done by students and faculty, that may otherwise get lost to the ages, to live on through easily accessible platforms.
Coming out of ILiADS, I will continue to work on research, but will also be writing more content for the website and entering my research into our hidden database structure that will make finding information easier.