Partnership Program Creates New Free Digital Publication at Fort Vancouver NHS

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Date: January 22, 2014
Contact: Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, Fort Vancouver NHS, 360-816-6231
Contact: Dr. Dene Grigar, Director of and Associate Professor in the Digital Technology and Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver, 360-546-9188

VANCOUVER, WA -- Today, the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historical Site and the Creative Media and Digital Culture (CMDC) Program at Washington State University Vancouver jointly announced the release of a new, free digital publication entitled The McLoughlin Family Collection: A Look Inside the Fort Vancouver Museum Collection.

Specifically designed as an electronic publication, or ebook, by students in the Creative Media and Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver through the national park's Fall 2013 Public History Field School, the publication introduces readers to numerous items from the collection of the family of Dr. John McLoughlin, now preserved by the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver NHS. 

This publication is available to the general public as a free download and can be accessed in several formats for various electronic reading devices. Readers using an iPad, iPhone, or the iBooks application on many computers can access a specially enhanced version of the publication, featuring interactive images, animated videos, and 3D images. Readers can even select and hear songs recorded from the McLoughlin family's nineteenth century melodeon.  

"At Fort Vancouver NHS, park staff preserve and protect more than two million historic objects in the park's museum collection, including the world's largest collection of archaeologically recovered Hudson's Bay Company artifacts and objects from several other national park sites," said Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. "This project is a great model for working in partnership with an award-winning university program to help connect visitors to these often delicate objects through cutting-edge technology."

"This project fits well in the vision for the CMDC program. We are developing a digital publishing track in our program and experimenting with open source technologies to produce scholarly, artistic, and commercial publications. The production of The McLoughlin Family Collection represents a step in that direction and allowed us to think about how to display 3D models, music, and other media assets in ways that encouraged interactivity and participation from the reader," said Dr. Dene Grigar, director of the CMDC program.

The project team included students from Washington State University Vancouver working closely with key National Park Service employees and volunteers. CMDC student Nicholas Rudy served as the project manager, with Bryan Ruhe leading graphic design and widget development, and Kyleigh Williams leading animation and video development—all under the guidance of CMDC founder and director Dr. Dene Grigar. National Park Service museum technicians Heidi Pierson and Meagan Huff wrote and prepared content and context, and provided access to the museum collection; volunteer John Edwards provided numerous photographs of the historic objects; and Greg Shine, the park's chief ranger and historian, served as the park's team leader and publication editor. 

"This has been one of my most favorite projects," said Shine. "The students developed a beautiful overall design and included some amazing technical enhancements while also learning about the park, its resources, and its national significance. Park staff provided access to the museum collection, as well as specific knowledge about the objects and their historic context. Everyone who participated benefitted, but it's the readers who really win out—they get unprecedented access to these wonderful items."

This is the second ebook publication produced at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site with local universities through the park's Public History Program. The first, Revealing Our Past: A History of Nineteenth Century Vancouver Barracks through 25 Objects, received the National Park Service Pacific West Region's  2013 Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation. It is also available as a free download through this link:

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special events and activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

Faculty and students involved in the field school pose in a classroom on the WSUV campus.
Project team, from left to right: Nicholas Rudy, WSUV Student & Project Manager; Greg Shine, NPS Chief Ranger & Historian; Dr. Dene Grigar, WSUV Course Instructor & CMDC Director; Bryan Ruhe, WSUV Student & Lead Designer; and Kyleigh Williams, WSUV Student & Content Specialist. Not pictured, Meagan Huff & Heidi Pierson, NPS Museum Technicians.
Image of page 20 from The McLoughlin Family Collection, showing the family's melodeon.
A sample page from the enhanced ebook publication showing the McLoughlin family's melodeon. Readers who download the enhanced version can select songs and hear them played on the melodeon.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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