Project title: Documenting Maine's World War I Memorials
Project leader: Elizabeth Bischof, Associate Professor, Department of History and Political Science
This digital humanities project aims to create a searchable digital inventory of Maine’s World War I memorials and monuments, including photographs (contemporary and historical), descriptions, inscriptions, mapped locations, and information on the history, creation, and dedication of each memorial. This project began in Professor Bischof's fall 2014 course: HTY 394: World War I: Culture, Politics, Memory, where each of the 30 students enrolled in the course was responsible for finding three WWI memorials located in Maine, among the estimated 200 to 300 memorials. For the purposes of this project, the class decided to count "All Wars" memorials as part of the inventory, since they specifically recognize those who served in World War I. The initial inventory of Maine's World War I memorials (currently a work in progress) is organized by County/City/Town and located on USM's Digital Commons, as part of the Digital Maine initiative: http://digitalcommons.usm.maine.edu/wwi/ .
While common memorials include plaques on granite boulders, honor rolls, and the occasional statue, Maine's WWI memorials are quite diverse, as they include bridges, highways, trees, city squares, arches on college campuses, flagpoles, etc. These monuments and memorials adorn parks, town commons, city and town halls, libraries, high schools, nature preserves, summer camps, highways, byways, and college campuses all over the state. Many are prominent and well cared for; others have been forgotten. We wish to promote awareness of these memorials, their interesting histories, and invite visitors to reflect on their many meanings--then and now.
The second phase of the project is the creation of a website that will contain an interactive map that “pins” the location of each memorial, as well as include research and narrative historical context about Maine's WWI monuments and memorials, as well as those who commissioned, designed, and dedicated them.
Occasioned by the Centennial of World War One (2014-2019), this project seeks to celebrate and preserve Maine's history, while increasing public awareness regarding the role of the United States in World War I, which is often overshadowed in American History, especially by the Civil War and World War II. By highlighting WWI memorials in Maine on a digital portal featuring an interactive map, this project seeks to make historical research relevant to broad audiences beyond the university, and make humanities values central to the development of American civic culture.