ON THE WEB: Kearney Goes to War digital exhibit is available at https://historickearney.unk.edu
By AUSTIN KOELLER
KEARNEY – Jacob McGinley’s work on a digital history project at the University of Nebraska at Kearney continues to create opportunities for the senior history major from Bruning.
McGinley recently attended the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities Conference at Davidson College in North Carolina, where he presented an overview of his work on the Kearney Goes to War project.
Kearney Goes to War documents Kearney during World War II and examines the history of Kearney Army Air Field through digitization of photos and audio files from Buffalo County Historical Society Trails and Rails Museum. The items consist of photographs and more than 3,000 pages of official Army Air Field government documents.
“It consists of hundreds of photographs of people around the air base, servicemen there and what life was like at the air base. We also have 27 oral history interviews from the 1988 air base reunion,” McGinley said of the project, led by the UNK history and communications departments.
As part of his work on the Kearney Goes to War project, McGinley uploaded photos from scrapbooks provided by the Buffalo County Historical Society Trails and Rails Museum onto a computer using a scanner. Once scanned, McGinley edited each individual photo to be posted on the Historic Kearney website.
He also transcribed oral history interviews from the 1988 air field reunion and converted them into a digital format using Audacity and SoundCloud software.
The only UNK student who attended the humanities conference in North Carolina, McGinley said the biggest thing he gained from attending was hearing other students talk about their projects.
“There was a group there from Michigan State that was sound mapping Midwestern religion,” he said. “They would go around the area and record sermons. Then they would map it on their website. There was also a computer science major there who took a tool called NeatLine, which has a timeline and Google Maps, and improved it himself.”
McGinley said these students’ projects have inspired him to continue working on Kearney Goes to War. “It is reassuring that other people are doing (similar) projects,” he said. “I’m not just doing something random.”
Jeff Wells, assistant professor of history at UNK, praised McGinley for his work.
“This is a tremendous honor and opportunity for Jacob. His presentation at the conference places him among the leaders in the cutting-edge area of undergraduate digital humanities research. It bodes well for his future and for the potential for digital history projects at UNK.”