Boston Marathon Digital Archive

An announcement from Ryan Cordell and the NULab.

I write with a few objectives. First, I wanted to announce a new project we’ve undertaken at the NULab: Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive. Following the model of the September 11 Digital Archive or the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, we hope to gather stories, images, videos, and other media related to the recent bombing, its aftermath, and the city’s healing process. You can see our working website, still under heavy development and design work at Our vision statement can be found at

We were fortunate to receive seed funding from our administration to get this project off the ground; we have a team of five graduate students and several faculty devoted to outreach and curation throughout this summer. We’ve also secured a commitment from WBUR to help gather oral histories and promote the archive, and have interest from the Globe in helping as well. Of course, these events touched every institution in the city, and we welcome collaborators. To that end, I would ask:

1.) if you are interested in actively collaborating on this project, please let me know. We welcome help of all kinds: collecting, outreach, design, technical development.

2.) Before we launch the archive to the public, we want a range of “seed content” in place to model what we hope people will contribute. If you would be willing to share your stories or media, please do so at You’ll no doubt notice that the contribute page is still a bit wonky. For instance, the map on which contributors are supposed to select where the event described happened is at the bottom of the form rather than near the top as it should be. We are working on these issues. We would ask that you not share the site far beyond our immediate circle–we are looking for close colleagues and friends willing to help us test and refine, but are not ready for the general public to use the form. I know this group in particular will understand that!

3.) Finally, I’ve been talking with the folks at CHNM about bringing 1-2 of them up to Boston next week or the week after for 2 intensive development days around this project. We’ll be looking to get a strong head start on some of the customizations detailed here: The idea is a kind of “One Week, One Tool” event focused on developing this archive. If you’d be interested in participating–particularly if you have experience with Omeka/PHP development, let me know. This would certainly be a chance to learn more about Omeka from the experts.

CHNM guru Patrick Murray-John will be coming up to Boston sooner than expected–this week in fact! We hope to use Tuesday and Wednesday (5/21-22) as an intensive Omeka hack-a-thon in which we can rapidly develop some of the functionality we need for this archive. If you have some experience with Omeka and/or PHP and would like to assist with this effort, you’ll be very welcome. We envision this as a kind of mini One-Week-One-Tool event. Send me an email if you’d like to help during both or some of these days.

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