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Reflections on Chicago's Progress

Here, Cate and Lisa reflect on their time working together to create the Chicago's Progress blog project.





Lisa: When looking back to this past summer, I cannot begin to explain how beneficial the experience of learning about the Century of Progress Exposition has been for me. This all started for me when Cate’s dissertation advisor, who is also my History advisor, reached out and told me about the Research Mentoring Program that Loyola University Chicago offered. I was so excited because, firstly, I had never heard about the Century of Progress, but secondly, I had never had any experience in historical research before. While the plan had, unfortunately, changed several times due to some technical difficulties I was still able to learn how to do archival research. Cate brought me to the Newberry and Harold Washington Libraries to show me the process of how to research and I cannot thank her enough for that. Along with archival research I was able to learn how to use Omeka and input photograph metadata. I want to continue to thank Cate for the feedback on my writing and research skills along with her grace and empathy towards my already busy schedule. From this blog many will be able to see an overview of the world’s fair and hopefully learn just as much as I did during this summer.



Cate: I came up with the idea for this project because I wanted to create a digital resource about the Century of Progress Exposition. While working on my dissertation, I realized that there are very few online resources about this world’s fair that would be useful for a general audience. Lisa Pinto and I were paired together through the Loyola University Chicago’s Graduate School Research Mentoring Program. I thought that working to create a digital presence for information about the world’s fair would be a useful project for my mentee: we could work on research skills, writing skills, and would have something to show for the experience at the end of the summer.


This experience was valuable for me because it built on the experiences I have had teaching: I was able to work with an undergraduate student in a new way. In my public history work I have had some experience supervising interns, but in this case I was in charge of directing the project. Given our different summer schedules, Lisa and I had to be nimble in the way we worked together: sometimes we were in-person, sometimes we worked remotely. This project required quite a bit of flexibility. We had to change the software platforms we used for the project, and gained experience in deciding what platform was the best medium for the content we wanted to share. The final iteration of this project as a blog is useful because it is scalable–we can add more to the site later if need be. I found out that some of my ambitions were too large for a summer program, and we realized that for some of our ideas we would need an additional partner more skilled in the digital humanities. It was a pleasure to work with Lisa. I hope visitors enjoy reading about the Century of Progress Exposition in our blog, Chicago’s Progress.

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