Digital Scholarship

Recent Projects in Digital Scholarship

JMU Libraries supports a wide array of digital scholarship and scholarly communication activities, introduced on our Scholarly Communications page. This page provides information about our emerging approaches to digital scholarship and examples of digital projects. For assistance, please request a consultation.

Marching Royal Dukes: Celebrating 50 years of Virginia’s Finest

Website celebrating the Royal Dukes 50th anniversary

The Marching Royal Dukes: Celebrating 50 years of Virginia’s Finest website is dedicated to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes (MRD). It features various exhibits commemorating the ensemble, including “Melodic Moments” (a photo exhibit), “Show Your Colors Proud And True” (a 3D interactive exhibit), and “Historic Reverberations” (an audiovisual exhibit). The site also includes a timeline of the MRD’s 50 years of achievements, interviews, and a section where alumni reflect on the MRD’s impact.

Celebrating Simms: The Story of the Lucy F. Simms School

Website celebrating Lucy F. Simms

The Celebrating Simms website is an archive and online companion to the permanent exhibition celebrating Lucy F. Simms, a pioneering African-American educator, and the school named in her honor in Harrisonburg, VA. The physical exhibit, launched in April 2016, is housed in the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center. The site commemorates Simms, who taught over 1,800 students, and the Lucy F. Simms School, serving African-American students from 1938 to 1965. An extension honors educator Mary Awkard Fairfax, a Simms student. The website features an interactive timeline, map, digital archives, oral histories, and educational resources, showcasing extensive documents on Simms and African-American education in Harrisonburg.

Mapping Black Digital & Public Humanities

Website showcasing digital and public humanities projects focused on Black history and culture

The Mapping Black Digital & Public Humanities website features an interactive map showcasing digital and public humanities projects focused on Black history and culture. Its objectives include aiding in the discovery of projects by various criteria, fostering connections across similar initiatives, and facilitating in-depth analyses of the fields of Black Digital Humanities and Public Humanities, highlighting areas for growth and intervention.

Harrisonburg 360 Podcast: Narratives of Immigrants Living in the Harrisonburg Community

Harrisonburg 360 podcast website

The Harrisonburg 360 podcast, created by JMU students under Dr. Allison Fagan’s guidance, focuses on immigrant stories in the Shenandoah Valley. Season two highlights the experiences of local business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. This digital project involves exploring oral histories and learning podcasting skills. It aims to amplify marginalized voices, mixing past and present immigrant experiences. Despite challenges like the inability to work face-to-face, students remained committed to this community-focused project. The virtual launch event offered a platform for showcasing student work and fostering community discussions on immigration in Harrisonburg.

Health of the Latinx Community in the US

Health of the Latinx Community in the US website

The Health of the Latinx Community in the US website, developed by a JMU medical Spanish class, provides comprehensive insights into various health issues affecting the Latinx community in the U.S. The site covers topics such as nutrition, addressing obesity and malnutrition among Latinx individuals, and combating diabetes. Mental health issues like depression, trauma, and substance abuse in the community are also discussed. Additionally, it examines the health of Latina women and LGBTQ+ communities, focusing on sexual health and access to contraceptives. Problems regarding access to healthcare, including lack of Hispanic healthcare professionals in the U.S. and the need for medical interpreters, are highlighted. Finally, the site addresses future health challenges for the Latinx community, including COVID-19 impact, dental health problems, and occupational health risks.

Social Change Interviews

Social Change Interviews website

The Social Change Interviews website is comprised of original oral history interviews carried out by students of Dr. Kristen McCleary’s spring 2016 to 2024 HIST 150 and UNST 390 courses, as part of JMU’s General Education program. The general theme of the interviews are about social change in the 20th and 21st centuries as depicted through themes such as the Cold War, gender, immigration, education, and the workplace. Students also analyze these interviews to discern patterns of social change in themes of their choosing. We seek to understand the connection between an individual and the larger historical context of their life through interviews, reading memoirs and graphic novels, and telling our own stories about how our lives intersect with social change.

Histories Along the Blue Ridge

Histories Along the Blue Ridge website

Formerly known as “Exploring Rockingham’s Past,” this award-winning project now called “Histories Along the Blue Ridge” makes selected historic records from the Rockingham County Court digitally available to the public. Each year, JMU graduate students partner with the local Circuit Court Clerk, Chaz Haywood, in this work. Since 2018, the project has grown rapidly beyond Rockingham County through collaborations with community members and courthouses in neighboring counties. Future initiatives will also add selected non-court records to the collection.

Objects of Faith

Objects of Faith website

The Objects of Faith website features 3D models of religiously meaningful objects, accompanied by original object narratives that place those objects in their historical context. The models were created and the narratives written by students in the Spring 2017 and Spring 2018 offerings of Introduction to U.S. Religious History (HIST 362), taught by Dr. Andrew Witmer, professor in the Department of History.

Lucy F. Simms School Oral Histories

Lucy F. Simms School Oral Histories website

The Lucy F. Simms School Oral Histories website celebrates the historical significance of the Lucy F. Simms School in Harrisonburg’s Black community. The project, initiated in 2022, was a collaboration with Rockingham County high schools and JMU’s College of Education, featuring oral histories by Simms’ former students. High school students recorded these histories as part of their African-American History coursework. The project aimed to preserve memories from before the school’s 1965 closure due to integration​.

Immigrant Harrisonburg

Immigrant Harrisonburg oral history project website

The Immigrant Harrisonburg digital archive is an oral history project that investigates the lives of immigrants living in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. JMU students contribute to this archive through class research projects with the immigrant community in Harrisonburg in History of Immigration to the United States (HIST 439), taught by Dr. Daniel Morales, professor in the Department of History.

Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia, 1877-1927

Project website for Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia, 1877-1927

This ongoing research project examines one of the darkest, yet almost forgotten, pages of American history: the lynching of thousands of people between the end of Reconstruction and the 1930s in the US South. Senior students actively participated in the process of collecting and organizing hundreds of articles from historical Virginia newspapers, detailing all the known lynchings that occurred in the Commonwealth between 1877 and 1927. This was for the Advanced Research course (JUST 402) taught by Dr. Gianluca De Fazio, professor in the Department of Justice Studies.

Virtual Reality Showcase

Virtual Reality Showcase website

Students explored the development of film and media theories, culminating in a research-based, writing-intensive, and hands-on final project that tests students’ ability to carry out original research on how a key theme in film and media theory has evolved with the multiplication and proliferation of new media. These video and virtual reality essays were created by students in the Spring 2018 offering of ENG420, Advanced Studies in Film and Media Theory, taught by Dr. Dennis Lo, professor in the Department of English.

Non-Traditional Theses and Dissertations

As students consider nontraditional thesis or dissertation options, we encourage students and their advisers to discuss with the Libraries at the beginning of projects how an alternative presentation of the scholarship may be created alongside the main project for the purposes of long-term access and preservation. For example, a PDF version of a web site could be created and submitted to JMU Scholarly Commons. We encourage discussions to begin during the thesis/dissertation project planning phase, as that may support time-saving and quality measures for the student, academic department, and Libraries. Please use the request a consultation to get started.

Memorandums of Understanding

Due to the rapid expansion of interest in digital scholarship projects and the challenge of maintaining them over time, JMU Libraries has begun the best practice of writing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in the early planning stages of any project that does not fall under an existing campus-wide service model. MOUs will describe stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, intellectual property, duration of project activity and ongoing support, preservation/curation arrangements, disclaimers, etc. so that all parties embark upon the project with clear expectations. MOUs may be revised any time by mutual agreement.