We saw in the Omeka platform an opportunity to present digitized resources, exhibits, and historical interpretations of Harrisburg's City Beautiful movement between 1900 and 1915. Initially, this website was the heart of a project that has come to be known as the Digital Harrisburg Initiative. Today it remains our primary outlet for providing digitized primary sources related to Harrisburg in 1900-1930.
Yet, our work has grown in significant ways since 2014. In subsequent iterations of the digital history course in 2015, 2018, and 2020, our students moved beyond studying the origins of the movement to consider the broader ways that Harrisburg's residents encountered problems and embraced improvements between 1890 and 1930. We have also worked more in recent years to tell the story of the losses in Harrisburg, including new immigrant communities, who found it harder to live in an improved but more expensive city with fewer housing options, and the marginal community of the Old Eighth Ward that was wiped away in the 1910s in the name of progress. As our work on the Digital Harrisburg Initiative has expanded, so has the number of our platforms: this site is now one of several pathways created by Messiah College for learning about Harrisburg's City Beautiful Movement.
To learn more about our broader explorations of Harrisburg's City Beautiful Movement through WordPress websites and Story Maps, see the City Beautiful Exhibitions page at the Digital Harrisburg website.
We have recently published a special issue of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. Edited by David Pettegrew and James B. LaGrand, the issue, titled “Harrisburg, Digital Public History, and the ‘City Beautiful’,” includes 21 essays exploring the history of Harrisburg in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This project has benefited from the generous support of the Historical Society of Dauphin County and the Pennsylvania State Archives. More information about the process of student research can be found on the individual "About" pages of individual exhibits.