Capturing the Past in the Present

written by Olivia Dorsey

edited by Daijha J. Copeland

Olivia Dorsey B.S. Information Science Afri Amer &Diaspora Stds Minor  from Clayton,NC

Olivia Dorsey
B.S. Information Science
Afri Amer & Diaspora Stds Minor
from Clayton, NC

Upon entering into Carolina, participating in undergraduate research had never crossed my mind. I just wanted to hone in on my technical abilities to produce websites and graphic designs, which was my passion. After taking an African, African American, and Diaspora Studies course my sophomore year, I acquired an interest in African American Studies. After hearing about the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from a friend who was a recipient himself, I was convinced to apply.  I decided that I would use my SURF experience to challenge myself; I would combine my two passions for history and technology. The skills in web development, which I had developed in my years at Carolina, would allow me to create a digital collection, preserving damaged historical photographs from families in the area.

To conduct my project, I traveled to Franklin, North Carolina where I would be able to digitize the family photographs of those who may or may not realize the historical or sentimental value. Many people had their photo albums tucked away, and had even forgotten about them. Yet when asked to see the photos, they were eager to relive those memories and take me along for the journey.  By the end of the project, I created FranklinMemories.com, a website, which holds about 200 photographs and several interviews capturing Franklin’s past.

A photograph of unknown individuals, take from the album of Carrie Stewart Franklin, NC

A photograph of unknown individuals, take from the album of Carrie Stewart
Franklin, NC

In Franklin I created bonds with people there that I will continue to cherish. Next semester, I will be attending the School of Information and Library Science, at Carolina, in pursuit of a Masters of Information Science to study the Digital Humanities. Because of my SURF project, I want to pursue a career as a developer of Digital Humanities projects.  I am not only focusing on web design, but also 3D modeling, motion graphics, and other avenues that I feel will only enhance historical projects. I really hope that by creating these projects, I can continue to make local history accessible to those within the community who may not know about their history or who may not have the means to access it.

I encourage anyone who is planning to pursue a research project, whether funded through SURF or not, to be persistent. If your project is something that you are passionate about, you will be able to find a way to make it happen. But I also think that in order to make your project successful, you must be willing to challenge yourself. divider