Creative a Digital Community Archive

December 20, 2018 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on Creative a Digital Community Archive

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Michael Savoca

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I have been working on my own digital history project for many years now, although I have a long way to go in perfecting what I hope it will become. I hope this is an appropriate venue to discuss a personal project that I hope will become much more.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 On September 4, 2009, I logged onto Facebook and created a group page for a research project I had already been working on for about eight years. I was about to enter my senior in high school and I had spent another summer walking the streets of my grandparent’s village in Croatia with a camera in hand, recording stories and capturing images of village elders and their personal collections of family memorabilia. What had started as a personal quest to document my family tree turned into a one place study, the study of one small Croatian village and the families that inhabited it.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Over that summer, I had met a lot of people, both young and old, interested in what I was trying to do. Zablace today is a small hamlet of nearby Sibenik, tucked along a rocky coastline of the Adriatic Sea. From that craggy shore, hundreds of Zablace’s people embarked for better opportunity, political asylum, and religious freedom to new homes around the world. Men stowed away deep ships throughout the 1930s, jumping ship in America. Over the decades from the 50s through the 70s there was an exodus of young families from the village; many fled Communist Yugoslavia for better lives in the United States, but also Australia, Canada, and some other parts of Europe. Our ancestral home hosts only a couple of hundred fulltime residents in the winter today, but summers always bring waves back.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Zablace Genealogy was born out of a desire to create a digital community archive, although I didn’t know what that was at the time. I wanted to host a site where people could share photos, stories, and information. We all have mysterious photos of forgotten faces, and I thought these could be identified through the power of crowd sourcing, and many mysteries were solved indeed. Relationships were forged, old rifts healed, and new doors opened through the creating of a simple site on social media.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Over the years, however, my usage of the platform has slowed for a variety of reasons. I am uncomfortable with many of Facebooks policies, information practices, and assigning rights for photographs to the company. While I cannot deny that hundreds of people became aware of my project in a way which never would have been possible before, there are some aspects of Facebook I am no longer willing to promote. I have countless images and documents, a family tree with eight thousand people, and transcripts of oral history interviews that should be preserved. So my question is, what should my next step be?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 My eventual goal is a simple one; I want to create a standalone digital community archive. Over the course of nearly 18 years of research and almost 10 years of hosting the Zablace Genealogy group on Facebook, it is time for a website that will allow for a true hosting of materials devoted to the study of people and place. I would love to work on this concept as a capstone project, and be able to present a small but diverse community spread across countries, continents, and generations a tool by which to preserve our common heritage. It may be microhistory, but it is made of stories that show the resilience of the human spirit, complexity of 20th century geopolitics, and the deep culture of a village that will soon be forever changed by development and this century’s own tidal shifts.


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