Friday, October 14, 2011

JCHC First Look: QR Code

New for the JCHC! Go ahead and scan this code with the QR reader on your smartphone.

This took me a little while to manipulate to get a working code with our logo embedded, but I am very pleased with the results.

Let me know what you think.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

JCHC Updates: Photo Album


I decided to spend today at the JCHC taking photographs of our current exhibits. I had the idea that our website could use a little more flair, and I decided to make a Flickr slideshow that I could embed onto our exhibits webpage.

So after a few hours of photographing and uploading, this is the final result:

I hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

JCHC Updates: Journeys

Hello everybody!

It's been really busy here at the JCHC. We just opened up a new exhibit, "Journeys," that focuses on people of color and their experiences in Jefferson County. The exhibit features an Underground Railroad "tunnel" entrance where guests enter into a "dark basement" where a motion sensor triggers the playing of audio that exposes visitors to the sounds and feelings of a group of slaves running away and hiding from Federal Marshals. Also featured in the exhibit is a scale model of the historic Heath house on Pickering Street that was used in the Underground Railroad.

I took the time to record some footage of the new exhibit and put together a short video "trailer" of the JCHC project using my Flip Video and iMovie. Please take the time to enjoy the brief tour of the Jefferson County History Center's new exhibit "Journeys":

This project is supported by a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service and administered under the Preserving African American Heritage in Pennsylvania program of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hot Off The Press...

You'll notice that I'm holding a physical copy of the new JCHC brochure that I designed. I'm very excited to get these out for our visitors and to hear feedback!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

JCHC Updates: Tour Guide Pamphlet & Pepsi Refresh Project

After a long summer...I'm officially back to work at the JCHC. (Technically I started back last week, but this is my first blog post since the spring.)

One major item that I am working on at the moment is a pamphlet for the museum that acts as an informational tour guide. I had designed a similar item last year, but it never got printed. So, this time around, I had more of a focus on editing the content and creating a visually appealing document. Now that I have a new computer to work from, I was able to utilize Microsoft Publisher to create the new pamphlet. The design is a bi-fold, 8.5" x 11" brochure that has a building map on the inside as well as a description of the museum galleries. Take a look at the front'll notice a more professional look based upon the organizations "branding." Hopefully these will be sent to get printed within the next few weeks.

Another important item that I would like to address is the Bowdish Model Railroad and its involvement in the Pepsi Refresh Project. Through various forms of voting, the Bowdish Railroad has the opportunity to win a $10,000 award to help maintain and update the popular exhibit.

For more information on how you can help out the JCHC and the Bowdish Model Railroad, please take a moment to read our eNewsletter about the project.

That's all I have for right now. Be on the lookout for more news relatively soon.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

JCHC Updates: PA Civil War 150 Roadshow

Be sure to check out PACW150's Civil War Road Show this summer at the Jefferson County Fair on July 21 - 23, sponsored by the Jefferson County Historical Society!

JCHC Grad Assistant Blog: Summer


It's been quite some time since I've posted anything of real substance on my blog.  This doesn't mean that there hasn't been a lot going on at the JCHC, it just means that there has been so much going on with the organization and the wrapping up of my graduate classes for the semester that I have not been able to find the time to post any updates.

Lately, most of my time, I have been working on the "Historic Brookville" street markers in Photoshop.  I basically have three signs done to be shown to the board: the Marlin Opera House Block, the New Jefferson House and Columbia Theatre, and the Sandt Service Station.  I'm very pleased with the outcome of this project and look forward to the continued work on them in the time to come.

Other than that, I have been doing my normal, everyday duties of web upkeep, constantly updating our Facebook, Twitter, and website information.  This has been a major focus of mine since I first started at the JCHC, and I try to take a little time each day to connect with members through our social media.

For me, the semester is coming to an end, and my assistantship with the JCHC is going to go on hold until next fall.  Tomorrow will be my last regular day of work for this academic year, but I am very glad to volunteer my time to work on these projects (mainly the historic signage) from home this summer whenever I have free time while working as a summer member of AmeriCorps.

I will definitely try to stay up to date with this blog during the summer whenever I finish a project or update items on the web.

I'll be back in full swing in late August!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

JCHC Updates: Facebook & Gift Shop

Hello everyone!  It's been awhile since my last post.

I've been really busy working on the designs for the signage that we are planning for Main Street.  However, today I took a little break from that to update a few internet resources.

First of all, we are really close to getting the virtual gift shop up and running with paypal.  Hopefully by the end of the month, people will be able to use this service to order our specialty books.

Secondly, I took a little time to update our Facebook profile picture.

I'm also working on networking some more to get new fans for our page so that our news and events reach more people.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

JCHC In The Works: Informational Sign Design

I've been working hard lately, spending most of my time in Photoshop working on graphics for some future signage.  Here are the results:

Click To Enlarge Image

This is still very early in the design process, but I'm pleased at where this is going.  What do you think?


Friday, March 18, 2011

JCHC In The Works: Walking Tour Signage

What a nice day out today!

Here at the JCHC, we have just begun work on our smart phone walking tour for Brookville's Main Street.  We are working on gathering pictures and information about all the great historic landmarks in town.

After some talking, we also see this time as a great way to develop some permanent signage to place around town.  What we are thinking of would be 10 signs that have graphics and text about the most interesting places and events from Brookville's past.  The signs would provide people with a lot more information and larger images than they would receive on the smart phone tour.

This idea is still just in the very beginning stages, but I did take some time to throw together a sample graphic to get an idea of what the basic designs of these signs might look like.

I hope you enjoy:


Thursday, March 17, 2011

JCHC First Look: New Website Feature

Hello everybody,

It's been busy here at the JCHC.  We have a bunch of new projects in the foreground right now that are really starting to take over.

First of all, we are beginning work on an app for smart phones that will act as a digital tour guide for Brookville's historic Main Street.  The project is still in the very early stages, but we are definitely excited to dig into this one.

Another new item that we are working on is setting up a digital database for our patrons to search for names through our archives of newspaper articles.  This feature will allow users to find out basic information about the person that they are searching for and see what newspaper clippings we have on file related to them.

I just recently designed two buttons for the website for our users to find this new feature.  They won't be installed onto the site until it's fully functional, but here is a preview of the buttons right now:


Friday, March 4, 2011

JCHC Fun Fact: Charles Bowdish

Hello everybody!

Tomorrow marks the opening of our new Civil War exhibit, Drumbeat to War.  It also happens to be the date of our annual Charlie Bowdish Birthday Celebration.  I thought I'd share a little local history with a brief story about Bowdish.

A Brief History of Charles Bowdish...

Charles Bowdish (1896-1988), famous for his miniature railroad displays, called Brookville his hometown.  After being released from service in World War I due to exposure to mustard gas, Bowdish began building models of real buildings in Brookville while he recovered.  Every Christmas, he would assemble his models into a display that featured Lionel trains running throughout.  

On Christmas Eve, 1920, Charles played host to his brother's wedding and reception.  Guests were entertained by his miniature railroad display.  One guest enjoyed it so much that he asked if he could invite friends over to see the display.  Word quickly spread and close to 600 people showed up to see Bowdish's work.

Every Christmas season to follow, Charles began constructing his display with a new theme (White Christmas, Indian Summer, etc.).  The railroad grew so big that it took up the entire second floor of his house.  Thousands of guests would come annually to see his creation, and Bowdish never charged a fee to view his work.

Flooding that would nearly destroy his models and an insurance company that would not cover the amount of people coming to view the displays forced Bowdish to look for a new home for his railroad.  Eventually, Charles chose the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh to house his work in 1954.

In 1987, Buhl officially became part of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.  Joining with Carnegie allowed Buhl to expand, and in 1991, under a new name, the Carnegie Science Center was opened.  This new building allowed enough room for Bowdish's railroad to be displayed year-round.

Today, Bowdish's Miniature Railroad and Village display can be viewed at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh from Thanksgiving through mid-September.  The railroad goes into a two-month shut down period for maintenance, cleaning, and the construction of new features on the railroad.

To view some old photographs of Bowdish's creation, follow this link.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

JCHC First Look: "Drumbeat To War"

As March approaches, so does the opening for our first 150th anniversary commemorative Civil War exhibit, Drumbeat to War.  This exhibit is planned to feature depictions, dioramas, and original artifacts dealing with the recruiting process, training, and camp life of the recruits from Jefferson County at the start of the war.

In 1861, many Americans thought that the Civil War would only last a very short time.  Originally, a term of service that men signed up for in the spring of '61 was for a period of only three months.  Soon, the American people would realize that the war would last a lot longer than only three months.

Our exhibit captures the excitement and expectations directly related to 1861.  Right now, we are trying to finish everything up before the opening.  For me, this means work on designing signage.

Take a look at what the gallery housing the exhibit looks like at the moment:


Friday, February 11, 2011

JCHC Updates: Winter 2011 Jeffersonian

Today, I uploaded the latest issue of The Jeffersonian, the JCHC print publication that gets mailed out three times a year to members, to our website.  I wanted to share this with you because this issue contains an article that I wrote pertaining to my use of technology within the organization.

Below is an excerpt from my article:

"In today’s world where technology rules and people have access to an endless supply of information at home, at work, and on devices that fit right in their pockets, communication technologies are becoming a huge deal. For us, we see this as an opportunity to connect and share our work with the world. Here at the JCHC, we are changing the way that we communicate with members, patrons, historians, the community, our friends, and other organizations...

[One] step we’ve taken to connect more frequently with people is through the use  of an Enewsletter that gets delivered directly through email.  This service allows us to send out announcements about events and share news in a more frequent manner than our print newsletter.  Our first issue went out in early December and announced the Fieldstone holiday concert sponsored by the JCHC.  If you received this email, you are already on the mailing list.  However, if you did not receive the eNewsletter and would like receive future announcements, you can head to or contact us via email or phone in order to sign up."

To read the rest of the article as well as the remainder of this issue of The Jeffersonian, please visit this link: The Jeffersonian, Volume 24, Issue 1, Winter 2011


Thursday, February 10, 2011

JCHC First Look: Civil War 150th Anniversary Commemoration

Hello everybody!

Today has been spent working on getting the word out on the next big thing going on at the JCHC.  What we are planning is a five-year commemoration of the Civil War.

2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the war, and museums and historical organizations across the country are busy putting together exhibits and programs to commemorate the people effected by the conflict.

To read more about our plans and efforts, please follow this link to the JCHC e-Newsletter presenting the first information about the commemoration.
(Note: This is a sneak preview of the e-Newsletter scheduled for delivery on Monday, Feb. 14th)

A lot of excitement can be felt around the History Center as we prepare to unveil our very first contribution in this five-year event.

Keep looking for updates along the way as more information can be shared about our commemorative celebration.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

JCHC Updates: MailChimp User Guide

Hello everybody!

Some of you may know that here at the JCHC, we've recently started using the HTML email service provided by MailChimp.  This service allows us to create and send very nice emails to our contact list very efficiently.

Originally, I found the website, started using it to get used to its features, and began sending out our initial emails.  I feel as though, since I am not always going to be a graduate assistant at the JCHC, that I should put together a small, easy to follow users manual for creating and sending emails through MailChimp.

So, I put together a 15 page guide that shows anybody how to log on and use the great features that the website has to offer.
The guide has many pictures showing where key buttons and links on the site are.  I designed it to be relatively basic, yet detailed enough for the user to learn more advanced features of the website through exploration and experimentation.

Now, all I have to do is make a guide for our Facebook...


Thursday, February 3, 2011

JCHC Updates: 105th Updates

Hello everyone.  Today, I've been spending some time putting the finishing touches on the 105th project video.  The meat and potatoes of the entire thing is done, but I'm adding a bit more flavor to it.  I decided to add in a little "Effects of the War" portion to focus on some individuals in the regiment and how the war impacted the soldiers.  This portion of the video will include some stories of officers as well as looking at the large number of men lost due to battle. Included will be some images of actual soldiers in the 105th regiment that we have in the JCHC archives.  Hopefully, this will allow the users to connect more to the story of these men and all the miles that they traveled along their five year journey.

Did you know, the 105th regiment ranks among the top ten regiments for men that were killed or died of wounds?  Out of the 1,992 men that enlisted with the regiment, 245 died...that's 12.2% of the members!

On a side note, I also updated the "Board Member" portion of the JCHC website.  I've added pictures of a few of the board members...the remainder are soon to come.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Evernote - Review for ED 617

This blog post is acting as a supplementary source for my software review on Evernote that I composed for my ED 617 class.  Please feel free to click any of the images to enlarge them.

Evernote is an organizational software tool developed by an independent, privately held company sharing the same name, Evernote Corporation.  Their website can be found at

I had a very hard time trying to describe the overall functionality of Evernote on my own, so I'll use this description taken from to act as a starting ground.

"Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving...A "note" can be a piece of formattable text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can then be sorted into folders, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, and searched." 

This description does a good job at summing up what the software can do, but you really have to see it to understand and appreciate it.  So, I took some screenshots that I'm going to share throughout my review.
Taking what I've gathered from the reading, Evernote doesn't quite fit into any "Instructional Software" category, but it has lots of potential for use in the classroom.  I suppose that you could best categorize Evernote into the "Planning and Organizing Tools" category as described in the text in Chapter 5 starting on page 153, however, the software offers so much that it doesn't fit any mold exactly.  I'll do my best to describe some of the basic functionality that I've played around with and share some thoughts on how this could be incorporated into instruction.
To start off, Evernote is basically a great tool where you can take "notes" and save them in one place.  For me, my "notes" are usually based on class assignments and projects that I have going on.  Discovering Evernote is going to assist me tremendously in keeping track of the tasks that I need to accomplish as well as the items that I have already completed.
This is what Evernote looks like.  To the left of the screen, you will notice you can set up a list of "Notebooks."  I created a separate notebook for each one of my classes this semester.  For each notebook, you have the option of creating new "notes."  These can be created with the program's text input feature, you can copy and paste text and images from anywhere, and you can even upload handwritten lists and photographs of chalkboards, a peer's handwritten notes, a business card, or basically anything you need to organize and file away for future use.  You'll notice that I have created some notes dealing with Module 2 to help me complete the assignments as well as a general course schedule that I copied directly from D2L and pasted right into Evernote.  You'll also notice a search functionality in the top right-hand corner of the window.  This allows for quick and efficient browsing of your "notes."  You can even search handwritten text...
Another one of my favorite features of the program that I've discovered is the ability to insert "ToDo checkboxes" into your notes.  This is very helpful for keeping track of what assignments and tasks have been completed.
Another feature that Evernote offers is the ability to upload a new note via email.  Each user is given a defined email address that you can send notes to without having to log-in to the website or open the program at all.  I found this to be useful if you save the email address to your phone contacts, so that if you snap a picture and send it to that email address, it will show up in your new notes the next time to access the web version of Evernote or the software itself.
One great feature that has lots of potential for classroom use is the ability to share notebooks with other users.  Basically, this could be used in a similar capacity to a collaborative wiki, where students can add to a "note" and share ideas and collectively work together outside of the physical classroom setting.

If we categorize Evernote into the "Planning and Organizing Tools" category as described in the text, the software should be able to "help teachers and students conceptualize, organize, and communicate their ideas."  Also, the purpose and benefits associated with this type of software are listed in the text as "Help organize ideas for writing; help organize, plan, and schedule activities."  I believe that Evernote does a very good job of doing so, and here are a few reasons why.
One advantage of Evernote is the multi-platform functionality, meaning you can download and run this software on Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm, and Windows Mobile devices.  So, in a school setting with different computer setups, Evernote can be supported on pretty much every machine.  This makes using all the great features of Evernote to help stay organized even simpler.  It is also really nice because I can see my "notes" right from my iPod Touch without having to be near my computer.
But, probably one of the greatest advantages of Evernote is the web based functionality that can be accessed from any computer, as long as it has access to the internet.  So, If you need to access your "notebooks" from a public computer, all you have to do is sign-in to the Evernote website, and you will see all of your notes, and the software doesn't even need to be present on the computer.
This could be very useful for students that use a number of computers to complete academic work throughout the day.  I've found that staying organized is one of the most important steps that any student can take if they want to be successful, and Evernote can help.

Based upon my reading of the textbook, I'd say that a major disadvantage of Evernote is the lack of a mapping/outlining function.  Sure, other software can be used in conjunction with Evernote to create flow charts, outline maps, and other brainstorming graphics, but it would be nice if you could do so right in the program itself.  An addition of this sort of feature would definitely add to the overall academic and classroom value of the software.

The basic version of Evernote is available for free on all platforms.  This gives you an immense amount of function that can be used virtually anywhere.  However, there is an option to upgrade Evernote to the "Premium" version which allows users to upload larger files, it integrates more file types, and has advanced security.  Also, it enhances the PDF searching, recognizes images faster, and gets rid of the ads.  Premium service costs $5 per month or $45 per year.

Friday, January 28, 2011

JCHC First Look: More Civil War Maps

Hello everyone.  Work here at the JCHC has a definitive focus on the Civil War right now.  So, I was hard at work designing more maps today.  I made some alterations to my previous designs.  Mainly, I included the Mason-Dixon Line and dotted lines marking the path from location to location.  Take a look:

I'm really pleased with my progress on this project.  I'll post a picture of what the final display looks like when it's finished.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

JCHC First Look: Civil War Maps

As I've mentioned before, the JCHC is participating in the Pennsylvania Civil War 150th Anniversary movement.  Since 2011 marks 150 years since the beginning of the war, we are currently in the process of developing a new exhibit about soldiers from the area and life as a Civil War era soldier.  One thing that was needed were some custom maps to be put on, this is where I got to apply my technological skills.

Basically, we needed an 8" x 10" map that showed desired locations.  What I did, by using Photoshop, was merge together outline maps of a few states that include borders and major rivers.  I then had to pinpoint exact locations, mark them on my map, and label everything.  I'm quite pleased with how these turned out.  Here is an example:

Now I have to go finish my work on the rest.  Feel free to leave questions and comments.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

JCHC Updates: Back From Break

Hello everybody!  After a long hiatus from being on winter break, I'm finally back at the JCHC.  There is a lot that I have to look forward to, and I'll discuss that later.  Right now, here is a brief update:

Over the break, I finished my work on the 105th video project and am just waiting for some critique and any corrections or changes that need to be adapted into the project.  I also just finished an article for our print Newsletter that will be sent out in the next week or two.  The article was on the technology that I've worked into the JCHC including Facebook and our eNewsletter emails.  Speaking of the eNewsletter, there will be a new issue being sent out sometime between today and Friday.  Very exciting stuff!