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California Gold Country's Digital Heritage: Innovations in Community Engaged Research and Training


This article presents the results of the Historic Coulterville Digital Preservation Project, an important digital humanities research collaboration which started in the Fall 2015 between the University of California Merced Resource Center for Community Engaged Scholarship, the John Muir Geotourism Center, the Northern Mariposa County History Center, and faculty and graduate students of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Program at UC Merced. Dictated by the needs and goals of the community members of the gold rush town of Coulterville, in the Sierra Foothills of California, who are invested in the preservation of their cultural heritage, the project focused on digital historic preservation in four areas of focus: i) the archives and photographs at the Northern Mariposa County History Center, ii) the Coulterville cemeteries, iii) oral histories of Coulterville, and iv) the digital documentation of Coulterville Main Street Historic District. Combined, these four areas of focus presented a breadth of subject matter through which to test various digital preservation methods in a real-world scenario as well as provided both the students and the community members the opportunity to study subjects in greater depth that were of mutual interest. The project provides an example of the potential for community-university research collaborations to benefit local communities while also providing training and networking opportunities for students, and new scholarship case studies for the scholars.

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