“Making History: Applications of Digitization and Materialization Projects in Repositories” – Front matter

Making History: Applications of Digitization and Materialization Projects in Repositories

A thesis submitted to the Temple University Graduate Board in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts by Megan H. P. Miller

December 2014

Examining Committee Members

Seth C. Bruggeman, Ph.D, Thesis Advisor, Department of History

Kenneth Finkel, M.A., Department of American Studies, Temple University

Mary Rizzo, Ph.D, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, Rutgers University—Camden

Abstract

This project draws upon material culture, digital humanities, and archival theory and method in the service of public history investigations. After selecting an artifact and performing object analysis, I will digitize the artifact and materialize a new object. I will then perform another object analysis on the 3D printed object. This exercise will provide the familiar benefits of object analysis, but the decisions and interactions necessary to digitize and materialize the object provide a fresh perspective. I will propose approaches for performing similar investigations in repositories, along with a pedagogical argument for doing so. By emphasizing modularity, flexibility, and minimal capital requirements, I hope these approaches can be adapted to a variety of institutions and audiences. Researchers will reap the benefits of intellectual and emotional engagement, hands-on learning, and technological experimentation. Public historians will have the opportunity to engage in outreach and innovative education and exploration of their collections.

Acknowledgments

I must thank the staff of the Germantown Historical Society, including Laura Keim, Addie Quinn, and Pilar Yeakel. They welcomed me (and, on one occasion, my research assistant), allowed me to peruse artifacts in the museum and collection records, and photograph my chosen artifact. I am particularly grateful to Ms. Keim for conversations about interpretation, the scope of the collection, and the challenges and operations undertaken by the staff.

Sarah Horowitz, Head of Special Collections at Haverford College, was kind enough to discuss some of the behind-the-scenes work recently undertaken on the collection I was researching. The fact that the arrangement and description of a collection cited in this paper are in flux, highlighting the constructed nature of archives, ties neatly into my focus on the roles of human actors—an unexpected thematic bonus in my final round of research.

An early conversation with William Turkel of Western University, and access to several preprints, suggested research avenues to pursue and helped shape my project. Conversations with Rita Krueger during my (first) thesis colloquium served to sharpen my focus and helped me decide what I wanted to talk about—and, just as important, what I didn’t want to talk about.

My experiences in Temple’s History department have been rewarding. In particular, I am grateful to Seth Bruggeman for pointing me in the direction of this project, which ended up being a bit Frankensteinian but quite rewarding. I also appreciate his tolerance for unanticipated scheduling issues and my progression through the iv program, best described as upside down and backward. Martin Levitt’s archives class, taken as a tentative first step toward a graduate degree, sparked my interest in archives as a field of study and profession.

Formal and informal interactions with fellow graduate students, members of the PhillyDH community, and staff at the American Philosophical Society have helped me articulate the arguments I wanted to make—and, again, decide which ones I had no interest in making.

Lawrence Miller has likewise been an able smart-nonexpert-in-the-field sounding board, as well as a supportive partner while I wrestled with questions about long-term career goals. My late mother, Margaret Powell, provided a model for returning to school after a long absence. I am indebted to John Finkbiner, whose willingness to provide child care made life significantly easier.

Kaia Miller has been something of an impetus for my slow-motion career pivot and graduate schooling; she continues to be a source of pride and delight. In addition to his role as research assistant, Tobin Miller served as an adorable scapegoat for my delay in finishing this project.

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS
CHAPTERS
1. INTRODUCTION
Small Things Not To Be Forgotten
Methodology and Situation
2. CRITICAL MAKING
Critical Making and the IKEA Effect
Multidisciplinarity in the Archives
Rubrics in the Classroom and Wider Ecosystem
Identifying Publics
Children and High School Students
College Students
Makers
Public Historians
3. APPROACHES
Approach Components
Approaches
Approach 1: The Artifact as a Static Object
Approach 2: The Artifact as an Absent Object
Approach 3: The Artifact as a Machine
4. RACHEL WILSON’S MEAT GRINDER
Terminology
Methodology
Meeting the Meat Grinder
Object Analysis
History of the Meat Grinder as Object and Artifact
History of a Family
5. DIGITIZATION AND MATERIALIZATION
Digitization
Photography
3D Modeling
123D Catch
Meshmixer
Materialization
Printing
6. MEGAN MILLER’S MODEL
Object Analysis
Atypical Analysis
Originality
Emotion
7. CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDICES
A. KICKSTARTER
B. TECHNOLOGY CHOICES

List of Tables

  1. Basic campaign data
  2. Prownian categories
  3. Funding results
  4. Backers of 3D printer projects

List of Figures

  1. A model of the meat grinder and its environs, generated by 123D Catch, with areas selected for deletion
  2. Meat grinder model with most excess material deleted, but some remaining interstitial cutting mat-colored material
  3. Meat grinder model, with mesh visible
  4. View of holes in the mesh, internal and external angles
  5. Meshmixer model displaying model measurements along various axes
  6. Stability analysis of model
  7. Strength analysis of model
  8. Meshmixer model with proposed supports to the handle
  9. Meshmixer’s optimized orientation and support of the model

List of Photographs

  1. 3D printed object wrapped in air cushions for shipping
  2. The meat grinder in its place on a Germantown Historical Society shelf
  3. The Germantown Historical Society break room
  4. The Germantown Historical Society basement
  5. Photograph taken using flash, showing bright light from window and shadows on meat grinder
  6. Photograph taken aiming down to use the cutting mat as a backdrop
  7. Photograph taken aiming down but with the tablecloth visible as a backdrop
  8. Meat grinder in the Germantown Historical Society basement
  9. Meat grinder, paper visible inside
  10. Meat grinder, accession number visible
  11. Meat grinder, view from below showing auger
  12. Meat grinder without screw, paper visible inside
  13. Meat grinder screw, alongside ruler
  14. Meat grinder, alongside ruler
  15. Printed meat grinder, angle similar to the photoset used for model generation
  16. Printed meat grinder, view of hand crank
  17. Printed meat grinder, view of goiter and drum depressions
  18. Printed meat grinder, view of whorls and gritty texture
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