Adventures in Digital History 2010 Rotating Header Image

James Monroe Project Contract

This group, composed of Chris Wright, Seth Mintzer, Lexy deGraffenreid, and MacKenzie Murphy under the direction of Professor Jeffrey McClurken in the University of Mary Washington’s Digital History seminar will construct a website centered around the letters from James Monroe to the United States Secretary of State written during James Monroe’s tenure as Minister to France from August 1794 through August 1796. We will transcribe and provide a summary of each letter during that time period. Additionally, we want to provide an interpretation of Monroe’s letters based on the context provided from the transcriptions and summaries and additional research of the international political atmosphere in the late 18th century. Our goal is to work cohesively as a group to complete the following tasks in accordance with our syllabus and the milestones set below.

Audience: This website will be geared towards undergraduate history students searching for primary sources about James Monroe and early United States diplomacy. However this site will be open to everyone looking for primary sources and information about James Monroe.


1.     The image, summary, and transcription files will be inventoried into separate letter folders for readability and easier access in storage.

2.     Design and create a usable Omeka interface to upload and present James Monroe’s correspondences to the Secretary of State while in France.
3.     Work with Professor Hanna’s class to create a map displaying various locations mentioned in the correspondences. We plan to include locations mentioned more than once, as well as those pertinent to major events happening during Monroe’s time in France.
4.     Work with DTLT to make the map more interactive by linking locations in the map to their corresponding letters.

5.     Design and create an interactive time line of James Monroe’s time as Minister to France, linking events to corresponding letters.

6.     Create detailed summaries and transcriptions of James Monroe’s letters to the Secretary of State as Minister to France between August 1794 and August 1796.

7.     Upload the digitized images of James Monroe’s correspondences to the U.S. Secretary of State along with the transcriptions and summaries to the Omeka database.

8.     Label letter pages in the Omeka collection with searchable tags to allow visitors to find specific letters regarding specific people, places, events, and themes.

9.     Create a browse page to view all available tags.

10.  Design an in-depth summary of Monroe’s time in France to place the letters into a historical and political context with citations.

11.  Create a Links and Further Research page to guide readers to further research on James Monroe’s life.

12.  Create a Works Cited page to act as a bibliography.

**Secondary Goal(s):

1. Upload images in a collection to the website on the letters that Monroe wrote while not in France (but in Holland) to the Secretary of State to provide more context for Monroe’s time in France.
2. Upload images in a collection to the website on the letters from the current Secretary of State to Monroe to provide a more complete dialogue for the time period August 1794 – August 1796.


1.     Inventory image and document files into a more organized and user-friendly folder: February 4.

2.     Assign letters to individuals for transcription and summarizing: February 9.

3.     Have draft design of site laid out on paper: February 26.
4.     Read through all letters to pick out places, people, and events for tags and to inform Professor Hanna’s map group of locations to be included in the map: February 26
5.     Have transcriptions/summaries from August 1794-September 1795 done: March 19

6.     Have framework for the timeline built: March 257.     Have framework for the exhibits built: March 258.     Have transcriptions/summaries from October 1795-August 1796 done: April 2

9.     Have images and summaries uploaded to site as items: April 10

10.    Have timeline built: April 13
11.    Have exhibits built: April 13

12.    Site finalized: April 16


1.     Advisers: Professor Jeffrey McClurken and Dan Preston. We will use our advisors as a resource for help and information as needed. We will meet with Dan Preston regarding transcriptions as an expert in James Monroe and the James Monroe papers

2.     Technical Support: Jeffrey McClurken and DTLT. We will work with both parties as technical support and guidance when necessary. We will also work with both parties to help make the map and timeline more interactive.

3.     Omeka: Due to the large number of images and document files we will upload in order to create the exhibits, we will use Omeka as our database because of its ability to create the exhibit in an efficient, practical, and user-friendly way. It will also allow us to create an exhibit in a visibly enticing manner.

4.     Google Documents: These tools will allow us to collaborate over the internet, store our documents without uploading them, and to allow us to edit collectively.

5.     Simile Exhibit: This tool will help us build our interactive time line of James Monroe’s time in France.

6.     A generic image manipulater, such as Microsoft Picture Manager, specific to each of our computers: This will be used to view the image files on our own computers for transcription, and allow us to manipulate their size for better viewing.

Division of Labor:

Although all parties agree to participate in all aspects of building the site, each individual with have a greater focus on certain aspects of the project. Specific letters and tasks will be assigned at a later date based on group consensus.

Lexy and Seth: Site focus with assistance on transcriptions

Chris and MacKenzie: Transcriptions/summaries focus with assistance on building the site
**Any secondary goals are set with the understanding that it may not be possible due to time constraints to be able to complete the task.