New Exhibitions launch on as part of pilot project with library science students

By DPLA, March 5, 2014.

BOSTON, MA – The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is pleased to announce the addition of two brand-new exhibitions on the subjects of Depression-era American theater and the 19th-century US gold rush to its growing collection of curated virtual exhibitions ( The exhibitions were created as part of the DPLA’s Digital Curation Project, a pilot program in which graduate students from four library and information science schools envisioned and curated their own exhibitions over the course of a semester. The new exhibitions tell the stories of two different but equally compelling chapters in America’s history. 

The Show Must Go On! American Theater in the Great Depression

The Great Depression had an enormous impact on theatre across the United States. Productions decreased dramatically, audiences shrank, the show buttonand talented writers, performers, and directors fled the industry to find work in Hollywood. But despite adversity, the show went on. The public construction projects of the Works Progress Administration built new theaters in cities across America. The Federal Theater Project was established to fund theatre and performances across the country providing work to unemployed artists. This influx of new artists had transformed the industry, opening theatre to new voices, themes, and audiences. The Show explores these Depression-era changes and their impact on American theater. The Show was created by Kathleen Dowling, Laura Marte Piccini, and Matthew Schofield as part of Professor Anthony Cocciolo’s course “Projects in Digital Archives” in the School of Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute (NY).

Staking Claims: The Gold Rush in Nineteenth-Century America

Staking Claims explores the Gold Rush—several related gold rushes to Western territories in the second half of the nineteenth century—and staking-claims-buttonits impact on American history and culture. Catalyzed by the discovery of gold the Sierra Nevada in 1848, gold fever would persist for decades, attracting migrants looking to stake their claims to increasingly northern and eastern destinations—from the Rocky Mountains in present-day Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to the Yukon Territory and present-day Alaska by the 1890s. Staking Claims was created by Heidi Buljung, Chelsea Condren, Rachel Garfield-Levine, Sarah Martinez, Liz Slaymaker-Miller, Chet Rebman, and Brittany Robinson as part of Professor Krystyna Matusiak’s course “Digital Libraries” in the Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver (CO).

 The goal of the Digital Curation Pilot project was to engage graduate students in curating and writing exhibitions using, at least in part, content available through the DPLA data store, which numbers more than 5.7 million items and growing. The pilot provided students with real-world experience in the development and implementation of high-quality, well-conceived exhibitions on topics of national interest and scope. Students were also exposed to copyright and permissions issues related to digital resources.

“The DPLA Digital Curation pilot was an excellent opportunity for Pratt SILS students to creatively execute on making digital collections meaningful to a wider public, as well as experience the benefit of shared metadata,” said Anthony Cocciolo, Pratt Institute SILS Assistant Professor, who worked with students on The Show Must Go On. “I also know that the students had a lot of fun putting together their exhibitions, and appreciate having access to the real-life context that DPLA provided.”

“The DPLA Digital Curation pilot project provided an exciting opportunity for me as an instructor to incorporate a real-life assignment into my Digital Libraries class and to enhance students’ learning through authentic, collaborative activities,” added Krystyna Matusiak, who oversaw student development of Staking Claims. “The students not only explored the issues of large-scale digital libraries, resource discovery, metadata, and copyright in the context of DPLA, but also gained hands-on experience in selecting digital objects, investigating rights for their reuse, and building a themed exhibit in the Omeka software [which powers DPLA’s exhibitions], critical skills necessary in preparing the new generation of library and information science professionals.”

The other library school programs that participated included the University of Washington and the University of Oklahoma. Based on the success of the Digital Curation pilot, DPLA intends to organize additional programs in the future.ŸŸŸ


About the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America ( strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. Since launching in April 2013, it has aggregated over 5.7 million items from over 1,100 institutions. DPLA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.

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