Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Higher Education

Digital Paxton currently features three lessons suitable for undergraduate and graduate classrooms.

The first, "Native American-European Contact in the Colonial Period," is a multi-part lesson plan designed by educational specialists at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The unit is tailored to high school teachers introducing students to the history of North American settlement practices: it includes discussion questions, core concepts, competencies, background information, expansions, vocabulary, primary source materials, and assessments. Nevertheless, it can be adapted—and with little difficulty—to an undergraduate classroom.

The second assignment, "Podcasting the Paxton Boys," is designed explicitly for college students. Montgomery Wolf (University of Georgia) asks her students to break into groups, research the pamphlet war using Digital Paxton, and conduct a talk show in which the host interviews members of the Paxton Boys. The assignment encourages students to both critically and creatively engage primary source material, and they’ll pair critical inquiry with technological savvy they may take for granted.

Finally, "Exploring the (Digital) Archive" emerges from a collaboration with two faculty members, Benjamin Bankhurst (Shepherd University) and Kyle Roberts (Loyola University Chicago). In spring 2017 Bankhurst and Roberts co-taught an undergraduate history course about the American Revolution, in which they integrated a transcription assignment using Digital Paxton. After a short introduction to Digital Paxton and a crash course in eighteenth-century cursive, students explored the Friendly Association papers. Every student transcribed at least one page of manuscript and reviewed another student’s work.

We have since ingested those student-authored transcriptions into Digital Paxton and added an entirely new section of the project to support crowd-based transcriptions. Shortly after we completed the assignment, Kate Johnson, Marie Pellissier, and Kelly Schmidt—three Loyola graduate TAs—created a system through which students on- and off-campus could submit transcriptions. Johnson, Pellissier, and Schmidt have created step-by-step instructions for transcribing manuscripts, an ongoing project available via the "Transcriptions" page.

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