Jan312011

Fund-Raising Nears Goal to Name Center for History and New Media After Founder

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By Tara Laskowski

The late Roy Rosenzweig, founder of the Center for History and New Media. Photo by John Goell

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) in Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHHS) has announced a fund-raising drive that will help to name the center after its late founder, Roy Rosenzweig.

Through a challenge grant, the National Endowment for the Humanities will provide $250,000 when CHNM raises $750,000. The center needs just $50,000 more to secure the match and reach the overall $1 million goal to name the center after Rosenzweig.

“In addition to his scholarship, Roy’s commitment to the department, college and university was unstinting,” says Jack Censer, CHSS dean. “Roy had more friends than anybody I’ve ever known. The center is a living legacy that will benefit future generations.”

CHNM, which was established by Rosenzweig in 1994, uses digital media and computer technology to democratize history — to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past.

The center’s mission is three-pronged: It develops open source software such as Zotero and Omeka, which help scholars and researchers across the globe; provides free access to primary sources and research materials to high school teachers and students; and creates digital records and archival materials for historical events such as the French Revolution; the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and Hurricane Katrina.

Rosenzweig, who passed away in 2007, was a leader in the field of digital history.

“The breadth and depth of the resources provided by CHNM are a direct reflection of his work,” says Dan Cohen, current CHNM director.

BookcoverRosenzweig wrote, co-wrote, or edited a number of award-winning books, including “Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870–1920,” “The Park and the People: A History of Central Park” (with Elizabeth Blackmar) and “The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life” (with David Thelen).

In addition, his book, “Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age,” was posthumously released last month by Columbia University Press. The collection of essays looks at the impact of new media on teaching, researching, preserving, presenting and understanding history.

The book offers not only some of the dangers and concerns of “doing history” online, but also examines the positive side, such as more opportunities for conversation and debate; increased accessibility; and new, diverse voices.

“This new book of Roy’s reflects his genius, as it will stimulate historical thinking and advances among students and scholars alike. I’ve read the work, and the insights are as fresh as if they were written yesterday,” says Censer.

For more information about the center’s fund-raising drive, or to make a pledge in the Circle of Friends, visit the website.

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