A team of emerging history professionals connected to the WVU History Department recently collaborated to create an online tour of West Virginia women. The interactive tour was designed for “IN.Exclusive,” a new exhibit at Arts Monongahela designed to commemorate Women’s History Month (celebrated during the month of March). The exhibit and interactive tour aim to highlight contributions and accomplishments of women in West Virginia that may have been overlooked in mainstream culture and historical interpretation previously.
Eliza Newland (Collections and Program Manager at the Watts Museum, Public History alumna), Danielle Petrak ( Curator at the Watts Museum, History PhD Canidate), and Sally Brown Deskins volunteered to co-curate “IN.Exclusive” , creating an exhibit that features artwork by six West Virginia artists. Eliza reached out to Karly Kovalcik (Public History MA Candidate) and Lacey Bonar (History PhD Candidate) to help her with an idea for an interactive addition to the exhibit.
Eliza said, “I thought that creating a tour with Clio would be a great way to highlight the several women who play an important role in West Virginia's history and provide both an interactive element and more permanence to the exhibit.”
Both Karly and Lacey have previously researched women’s history and were happy to contribute to this project.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work on the West Virginia Women's History Clio tour. It was really rewarding to work on a public history project in women's history which is one of my fields of interest,” Karly said.
The tour shares the stories of more than twenty influential women in West Virginia history through sites important to them during their lives or during important periods in the state's history. These places include Mary Lee Settle’s family home in Cedar Grove, Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, and Charleston Woman's Improvement League.
It was designed by creating a series of connected entries in Clio, (theclio.com), a new technology created by Marshall University history professor Dr. David Trobridge. Clio is the first non-commercial website and mobile application that connects users to historical and cultural sites across the United States. Each entry provides reliable and concise information, connecting the public to scholarship, related websites, and other media. Eliza hopes “…other museums and historic sites use Clio to create entries related to the historic narrative that they are trying to tell; it is free, easy, and fun!”
Karly said, “It was advantageous for me to learn how to use a new digital platform for reaching public audiences. Clio's new tour function is a great tool for museums and organizations to use for public outreach."
The tour will be available for visitors to "IN.EXclusive" to explore and interact with as well as permanently online. The online format also allows the tour to be used in curriculum as an interactive form of exploring both women’s history month and West Virginia history in schools.
“IN.EXclusive” is currently on display at Arts Monongahela through the end of March. Those who cannot visit the exhibit can explore the sites online at https://www.theclio.com/web/tour/summary?id=114 .