Public History

Personas Revised

As part of my collections project I had to develop two personas. These personas are intended to keep me focused on who the project is intended for and how will they determine if it is successful or not. Using personas are very helpful and their application goes beyond just digital projects. As a disclaimer these personas are not intended to represent any one in real life, but they are certainly inspired by people I know. As they use to say in the TV show “Dragnet” the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Persona #1

Name: Jim Thurber
Demographic: 55-75, White male, retired
Descriptive Title: Member of the local historical society
End Goals: Jim is aware of social media and online collections and recognizes that his local historical society has not kept up with these technologies. He also would like to widen the society’s demographics, and bring more younger people into the organization. Jim also knows that his society is rooted in a dated approach to local history. This has impacted its interpretation of Civil War history. In the past the society has advocated support for the creation of an onsite museum, located at small elementary school. However, the impact of COVID now demonstrates the greater need to make local history accessible online, so the wider community can participate in its curation and interpretation.
Quote: “History needs to be a shared experience and everyone should be able to participate in its interpretation.”
A Day in a Life Narrative: Jim is very active with the local history society. As a member of the its board for many years, he is concerned that the society is losing its relevance as a recognized advocate for historical curation and preservation. He has a strong track record in promoting local history and is well known among civic associations and local government. Since he is retired he can spend a lot of time researching and promoting preservation projects. He has a strong interest in local Civil War history.

Persona #2

Name: Yolanda Smith
Demographic: 30 -45, African American, female
Descriptive Title: 4th grade elementary school teacher
Quote: “I want to make history more exciting for my students.”
A Day in a Life Narrative: As a 4th grade teacher in Virginia the Civil War is an important part of the state’s history curriculum. It is difficult to make something that happened over 160 years ago relevant to a 10 year old. Being able to offer class assignments based on local history would be of great value.
End Goals: Ms. Smith wants to be able to direct her students to online resources that support interesting and innovative activities. She wants to teach my students the difference between primary and secondary sources, and how to develop their own skills for historical interpretation. Many historical documents, like letters and diaries, are still in cursive. She needs help in decoding them. Some of the concepts of the Civil War are difficult to teach in today’s politically charged environment. Ms. Smith is looking for county supported programs that provide new and local interpretations of black history and freeing the enslaved. She would love to have her students participate in the local historic research and curation process.

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