The Journal for MultiMediaHistory
Volume 1 Number 1 ~ Fall 1998

About This Issue

Welcome to the first issue of The Journal for MultiMedia History. Our mission (see About This Journal) is to provide an outlet for historical multmedia publishing and to suggest the varied possibilities that digital publishing offers all of us. We hope to showcase experimental works, as well as traditional scholarship enhanced by multimedia components. The journal offers scholars opportunities to incorporate many types of sources into their analytical scholarship—or to travel into uncharted digital terrain. This first issue only begins to hint at the possibilities open to us in this new realm of publishing.

In "The 1939 Dairy Farmers Union Milk Strike in Heuvelton and Canton, New York: The Story in Words and Pictures" Thomas J. Kriger seeks to "bring the colorful history of the DFU [Dairy Farmers Union] to the attention of historians, and in the process to offer New York's small dairy farmers a more complete picture of their spirited legacy." He narrates the events surrounding a major dairy farmers' strike in New York State in the late 1930s, telling the story of New York's dairy industry, the rise and fall of the Dairy Farmers Union, and the colorful and controversial career of its radical founder, Archie Wright. Kriger's article integrates narrative text, audio oral histories, photographs, and primary documents. Each element enhances Kriger's story in a way that would be difficult to accomplish in a non-multimedia format. The material enables readers to see the documents and hear the interviews that the author drew on to write his narrative. The opportunity simply to present many more photographs than would be accommodated in traditional text publication illustrates one of the advantages of Web publishing. We have divided the article into four parts to minimize download time of image files.

Kathy L. Peiss' contribution, "American Women and the Making of Modern Consumer Culture," is an audio recording of a lecture she delivered early in 1998. It explores the irony of women's varied involvement in the advertising industry and their active roles in defining modern female consumption habits. As Peiss argues: "In such locutions as 'Mrs. Consumer' and 'born to shop,' women appear only on the receiving end of consumer culture. Far from being a natural or inevitable phenomenon, however, this feminized image was rooted in a specific historical development, one in which women themselves played a key role." Audience questions that challenged Peiss to expand on her argument, her responses to them, and the edited text version of her talk are integral to the final presentation. Together, they enrich and inform one another. They demonstrate the dynamic and dialectical nature of the evolution of ideas and the interlaced relationship of oral discourse and contemplative composition. Peiss' contribution also shows us how the World Wide Web (WWW) can be a dissemination vehicle for oral resources; it points the way to an effective and convenient method of delivering formal aural essays, audio documentaries, or scholarly conference sessions to national and international audiences.

Claude A. Clegg, III's "Message from the Wilderness of North America: Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, c. 1960" redefines the classic "document note," illustrating its possibilities in the digital realm of the WWW. He analyzes and places in historical context a recently restored 1960 recording of a radio broadcast by Elijah Muhammad, former head of the Nation of Islam. Unraveling the themes woven into Muhammad's talk—territorial separatism, Islamic heterodoxy, economic self-help, and a puritanical moral code—Clegg argues they were "representative of where the Muslims were ideologically by 1960." But equally important, Clegg analyzes and explains what was absent in Muhammad's address. This long and rich analysis illustrates one more opportunity the WWW offers: rare video and audio primary sources can be restored, analyzed, and widely distributed. Sharing a variety of oral primary sources on the WWW will facilitate research and writing. Furthermore, historical analysis can be more easily scrutinized when the sources utilized by scholars accompany the analysis itself or are easily available for review by readers and viewers.

Pedagogy and research are being rapidly transformed by the World Wide Web and by multimedia technologies, and two fine essays in this issue address this sea change. Corinne Blake's "Teaching Islamic Civilization with Information Technology" is an extensively hyper-linked article that offers a comprehensive review of Web-based resources for students and scholars of Islam and Islamic Civilization. The author has pulled together a broad array of materials and presents them in a highly useful, innovative, and analytical fashion.

Adrienne Hood and Jackie Spafford's "Websites for Student Research Projects: Is it Worth It?" makes judicious use of hypertext to demonstrate the promise and perils of integrating Web page construction projects into course assignments. We suspect that many of you who are considering a similar approach will find Websites highly instructive.

These articles mark a beginning for the JMMH. We hope they will inspire you as they have us. Enjoy this premier issue.

Gerald Zahavi, Julian Zelizer, and Susan McCormick
Department of History, The University at Albany ~ SUNY
November 10, 1998

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About This Issue (Volume 1, Number 1)
Copyright © 1998 by The Journal for MultiMedia History

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