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HIS501 - Bloom

Introduction to Applied History

HIS501 - Introduction to Applied History - Bloom

This guide was designed to help you complete your driving tour project for the Cumberland Valley Railroad Museum (CVRM). You will be using a web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating online exhibits called Omeka.

For assistance with Omeka, contact Professor Fic directly (, or use the "Schedule Appointment" link in blue under Professor Fic's profile photo in the left hand column to schedule a research consultation.

For questions regarding local railroad history sites, contact Dr. Tiffany Weaver (, Museum Director of the CVRM.



The term "meta" comes from the Greek for "alongside" or "with". Over time, "meta" was also used to denote something transcendental, or beyond nature. "Meta-data", then, is "data about data", such as the contents of catalogs, inventories, etc. Since the 1990s, "metadata" denotes machine-readable descriptions of things, most commonly in the context of the Web. The structured descriptions of metadata help find relevant resources in the undifferentiated masses of data available online. Anything of interest can be described with metadata, from book collections to football leagues. Describing different types of resources requires different types of metadata and metadata standards.

In the mid 1990s Dublin Core started with the idea of "core metadata" for simple and generic description of electronic resources. An international, cross-disciplinary group of professionals from librarianship, computer science, text encoding and museum community, and other related fields of scholarship and practice developed such a core standard – the fifteen Dublin Core elements. But this was just the first steps – since then the World Wide Web has changed in some ways and has broken new ground on the way to a semantic web. Dublin Core followed this path developing further standards for metadata based on the World Wide Web Consortium's work on a generic data model for metadata, the Resource Description Framework (RDF). At the same time the scope of Dublin Core metadata was broadened from "electronic resources" to encompass, in principle, any object that can be identified, wether electronic, real-world, or conceptual, and particularly including resources of the sort named in the DCMI Type Vocabulary.

-- Dublin Core user guide

Project Requirements

Your class will be creating a driving tour of the Cumberland Valley that highlights sites associated with local railroad history. Working in groups, you will prepare a written narrative as well as audio that is supported by artifacts and/or images related to the site you have chosen. These will come together in Omeka. Your class will use Omeka to create a page that outlines the driving tour route, including the textual narratives, audio recordings, artifacts, and images.

Need Help Recording and/or Editing Audio?

Contact Media Services. Located on the ground floor of Grove Hall. Email with questions.

Potential Tour Sites

  • Carlisle station - ties to Carlisle Indian Industrial School
  • Cumberland Valley Railroad passenger station (Shippensburg)
  • Western Maryland passenger station (Shippensburg)
  • Sherman Hotel (Shippensburg)
  • 1908 Pinola train wreck (Franklin County)
  • Chambersburg station - this was the Cumberland Valley Railroad hub

Adding & Describing Items in Omeka

The driving tour will be built around items from the CVRM collection, and other regional archival/museum collections. You must add and describe items before you design your section of the tour. Describe items using Dublin Core. Fill out as many fields as you can. At minimum, you must use these fields:

  • Title
  • Subject
  • Description
  • Creator
  • Date
  • Format
  • Type
  • Coverage
  • If your item contains text, you must use the Language field. If your item is from the CVRM collection, you must use the Identifier field.

Files: Upload an image file to visually represent your item.

Map: Enter the address of your site to link the item to the map.

If your item is not from the CVRM collection, you must obtain written permission from the owner to include the item in Omeka for the driving tour.

Adding Blocks

The page will be comprised of blocks. There are 4 types of blocks:

  • items with text
  • item gallery
  • text only
  • geolocation map (You will add your site to the map on the tour page)


You will be required to meet a minimum word count. Keep in mind that the work you put into this project should be equivalent to completing a graduate level paper. A portion of your time and energy will be spent learning to use a web-publishing platform, entering data, and designing layouts, so the content you create will not equal the length of a graduate paper. However, you are expected to conduct thorough historical research, as you would for any term paper. Your writing will be professional yet accessible to a general audience.

Details are forthcoming; this guide will be updated to reflect any changes to project requirements.

Omeka Style Guide

Heading Style

  • Use Heading 2
  • Headings should be left-aligned
  • Use title case capitalization


  • Captions should be center-aligned
  • Length: 50 words max.
  • Description, date.
    Courtesy of…
  • Example:
    • Train and superintendent’s mansion at Pine Grove Iron Works, 1875.

Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society.


  • All images should be cropped (scanner background is not visible)
  • Images should accompany relevant text
  • Images that accompany text should be left- or right-aligned
  • Stand-alone images should be center-aligned


  • All text should be left-justified
  • Do not indent paragraphs

Author Attribution

  • Names will be listed alphabetically by last name at the bottom of the driving tour landing page

Grandchild Pages

  • Use sparingly for additional specific information not necessary for the main narrative.
  • Open in new tab/popup

Writing for a General Audience

  • Avoid disciplinary jargon
    • Replace unnecessary jargon with a simpler phrase or word
    • If you can't replace it, define the term (for people who don't have a background in your discipline)
  • Write simply, concisely, and directly
  • Don't be overly wordy
  • Use active voice
  • Write positively
  • Titles and/or headings should be short, yet highlight what is unique or important about that section
  • Write a chronological narrative
  • Your introduction should hook your reader - Open with a relevant quotation, question, story, problem, declarative statement, or illustration that encapsulates what you want to say about that subject
    • Provide the reader with enough context and background so that they understand the main argument and importance of the research
  • Provide lots of examples to make abstract concepts concrete; use anecdotes or descriptive imagery
  • Avoid charts and tables that would be difficult for a non-expert to interpret