ECHO is also a first step into the field of digital history: since 2001 it has been a laboratory for experimentation in this new field, and it fosters communication and dialog among historians, scientists, engineers, doctors, and technologists. In addition to facilitating access to digital resources on the history of science, technology, and industry, ECHO has promoted the creation of digital history with tools like Zotero and the construction of Digital Memory Bank technology (as in preserving the memories of Hurricane Katrina). We also help scholars and institutions with their own digital history projects through workshops and consultancies.
The project is based at George Mason University's Center for History and New Media. ECHO has been funded by two generous grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
This site is best viewed through Firefox 2.0, Safari 3, or Internet Explorer 7.
Contact InformationIf you have any questions, or a site you'd like to submit to our database, please mail us at echo[at]chnm.gmu.edu.
Mission and HistoryAt the broadest level, our goal is to fulfill the potential of digital media and networks to create a more democratic history. That means including multiple voices and diverse perspectives in the historical record; making the historical record accessible to multiple audiences; and developing historical practices that many different people, not just “certified” professionals, can conduct. Democratization, however, does not mean compromising the quality of our historical work: We strive to foster a democratic historical practice that draws upon the most exacting standards and approaches of professional historians and archivists.
In addition to the website, the ECHO team remains committed to fostering new online collecting through consulting with individuals and groups. Recent consultees include: a global health initiative by the NIH/National Library of Medicine; an examination of the Australian asbestos industry; a history of the Transportation Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security; a history of the employees and customers of the Reynolds Metals Company; and a collecting project on the history of the Las Vegas trade show and convention industry. In order to encourage the practice of online collecting, the ECHO project has also accepted proposals for a number of seed grants to jump start new digital collecting projects.
Internally, CHNM is also applying the digital memory bank approach to case studies of the open source movement. One focuses on the Mozilla foundation (at www.mozillamemory.org), the group behind the successful Firefox browser and other open source projects. The Mozilla Digital Memory Bank already contains over 900 objects and several lengthy digitally collected first person accounts, and has attracted additional support from the Mozilla Foundation.
CHNM’s most extensive recent internal effort at creating a Digital Memory Bank came in response to the 2005 hurricanes. Launched in November 2005, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (HDMB) now holds 11,700 objects in its digital archive, from items submitted by individuals to special collections from 19 partner institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and the Louisiana State Museum. To date, HDMB has received 4.5 million hits and 800,000 page views, thanks in part to CHNM’s direct outreach campaigns during Mardi Gras festivities, the Katrina and Rita anniversaries, and the re-opening of the Superdome (including radio/television interviews and leafleting of public and university library workstations). The success of the Katrina project also inspired the Jewish Women’s Archive to work with us to create their own hurricane memory bank.
ECHO's future objectives include continuing to leverage the power of digital media to improve the research, writing, collecting, presenting, and preserving of the past. Our specific plans include continuing to develop easy-to-use tools for practicing historians, offer consulting and workshops, and experiment with new approaches to collecting history online.
Privacy and Collection PoliciesWe will not disclose your private information to any third party except if required to do so by law. We take all reasonable care in handling your personal information to ensure its security both offline and online.
When you submit a story, e-mail or other information to an ECHO project, we will ask you whether or not you want your submission made public. If you choose to keep it private, it will be held by ECHO, but not made available for public viewing on the website. If at any time you change your mind and want a public submission made private, or vice-versa, please contact us.
ECHO does not require the submission of personal information in order to browse the site and related projects. Your IP address (current Internet address), time and date of visit, and specific information about your browser and system are stored in the server logs at the time of your visit, just as they are on all websites. The information collected by the web server logs are used by Echo to better refine the information and content we provide, and we will not distribute this information to third parties.
Since the use of the Internet as a tool for historical research is only in its infancy, we assume that notions of acceptable practices will evolve over time. We welcome your comments about our policy. In addition, if anyone would like to ensure that they are never contacted by the ECHO project, please let us know and we will do our best to avoid any deliberate or inadvertent communication.
StaffThe ECHO team looks forward to your suggestions and your participation in the project.
- Ken Albers, Dan Cohen, Jim Safley, Tom Scheinfeldt, Connie Moon Sehat, Sean Takats
- Alumni: Joan Fragaszy, Josh Greenberg, Sharon Leon, Rikk Mulligan, Roy Rosenzweig, Jim Sparrow