I chose to review the websites, Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery and Slavery in New York. Both exhibit format websites host a large quantity of information regarding slavery in North America, combining text and media. Unfortunately, the navigation and aesthetics of the sites make it difficult to fully engage with the material.
Lest We Forget vs. Slavery in New York: Content
The information exhibited in Lest We Forget is presented in a systematic way, following a timeline of the African descended experience from the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade. While there is a credits page at the end of their navigation, I would have found it helpful had they provided immediate citation to the primary or secondary sources. Perhaps even specific documents, not just particular archives from which they got their information.
Slavery in New York focuses on the history and effect of slavery in New York City, from early Dutch settlement to the Emancipation Proclamation and after. The focus of each gallery is given in the Gallery Overview. In addition, they provide secondary source information along with links to another page of primary sources that relate to the topic. As with Lest We Forget, I would have liked to have seen some sort of citation directly on the page for easier access if a visitor wanted to do further research.
Lest We Forget vs. Slavery in New York: Design
The design of Lest We Forget can use a little update. It only fills half of the computer screen, as a result makes it is quite difficult to read. The font is very small, the text lines are too close together, and the font color is too light which make it difficult to stay focused and maintain your spot in the reading. The navigation of this website is not readily apparent, each section is reached by selecting a picture thumbnail along the bottom of the site without a title associated until the picture is hovered over. This does not allow for an establishment of the intended path of navigation, the user may select an image they are drawn to instead. In addition, each section has a text box and an option for “more”. This is will just take the viewer to a larger text box of the information given on the initial page. With the text box is a gallery of related small images, but on a rotation on the side of the page. Which is distracting from the small, light font text of the information. If the gallery was stationary it would be much less of a distraction.
The first look of Slavery in New York, after a short introduction, you are automatically directed to begin the tour. That being said, along the side of the page there are other navigation links which I was drawn to initially, as they stand out more on the page. These direct away from the main exhibit. As for the text, the font is small and the text lines are close together, at times I found it difficult to focus on. That being said, it is a little easier than Lest We Forget. The galleries are navigated through small links on the top of the screen, instead of a “next button” to move through the galleries. There may be better flow on the site if there was a “next” button or something similar. Within each gallery there are three panels; one for the overview, one for the secondary information, and the smallest for primary sources. This design is such that I feel there is not much focus on the primary sources, one may not even notice what they are unless they move their cursor over the text.
Lest We Forget vs. Slavery in New York: Audience
The audience Lest We Forget is trying to reach is anyone interested in learning more about slavery in the history of both North America and the world. They provide adequate information and is relatively easy to comprehend. The reader does not need to be an expert on the matter in order to learn anything from this.
Slavery in New York was designed specifically with family and education in mind. In each gallery there is a link designed to help parents guide their children through the information of the exhibit, providing a question and main idea. This is well done, it is straight forward and gives visitors a focus. As a result, they will get more out of the experience. There is also a focus on education. Under the “education” link, they provide a bibliography, classroom resources and workshops. These guides for teachers will also enhance the learning experience of students. Not only would someone with background knowledge on the topic benefit from and enjoy this exhibit, but with the resources provided anyone can learn from this exhibit.
Lest We Forget vs. Slavery in New York: Digital Media
In addition to the text information, Lest We Forget also provides a range of images which assist in the experience for the viewer. The size of the images does make it difficult to see them in full detail and they are not assisted by captions initially, the user must select the small caption button to see information about the image. They can also see the “full image” but does not let you zoom in and around on the image, this function would enhance the experience.
Slavery in New Yorkuses the technology that had been available well. Images of objects which were common during the time which the gallery was focused on, personal narratives of enslaved people, or other images of primary sources (such as letters or newspaper articles) are all presented in the exhibit. Many of these images have an interactive aspect to them which is useful when diving into the material, which I feel is very useful.
Lest We Forget vs. Slavery in New York: Creators
Lest We Forgetwas created for the United Nations International Year to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery and its Abolition. At the end of the navigation line is the credit page. A number of people and organizations were involved in the creation of this site, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library (Manuscripts and Archives Division, Humanities and Social Sciences Library), and the National Archives and Records Administration. In addition, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization assisted in the funding for the project.
Slavery in New York was created by the New York Historical Society, with assistance from a range of professionals. For exhibit development the American History Workshop (Research, Writing, and Curatorial), Krent Paffett Carney: Exhibition Designers, a number of scholarly advisers, museum consults, translations. For media design and production, the Experience Media Group, Norther Light Productions, History Channel, and the American History Workshop worked on this project.