As a history major with very little knowledge of computers or anything beyond typing words into search boxes, I knew that my contribution to this project would have to be through qualitative research, and that’s where I spent most of my time in this process. I worked with the sources team doing research into the buildings mentioned in one specific deposition: that of Thomas Wilkinson, who gave an eyewitness account of the night of the shooting. As a team, we tracked his route carefully and researched every building he mentioned.
The purpose of our research was to write historical annotations for the building Wilkinson referenced with the hopes that they would be integrated into the game as pop-ups for the player to peruse at their leisure as they explore the game world. The integration of the annotations into the game was someone else’s purview, however, and our job was to research and consolidate our information into discrete annotations.
Serena Zabin was instrumental to our research, as she showed us relevant source bases to use. I spent most of my time during the research process searching the Adams legal papers. This source base is full of testimonies and account of witnesses of the shooting. I used them to look for references to how the buildings were integrated into the everyday life of colonial Boston as well as how they related directly to the events of the Massacre.
When the time came to consolidate our information, I spent more time integrating our annotations and information into an ArcGIS map that showed Wilkinson’s route and the buildings that he passed on the way to the shooting. We went carefully through Wilkinson’s deposition step-by-step to redraw his route and added interactive notes on each of the buildings. We then integrated this map into an Esri Storymap (link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/845d9afd293c4c47815121131d70ba5a). This collected all of our information into an easy-to-read and standalone format that we showcased at the end of the process, and which we can connect directly to the game in the sense that the annotations on the Storymap will be the annotations that appear in the game.
Overall, I really enjoyed this process. It allowed me to combine some activities that I really enjoy, like primary source exploration and GIS mapping, in a new way. The research process was especially notable to me because it allowed me to do historical research, which I have spent a lot of time doing in other contexts, but apply it to a completely new project in a completely new way. The way we wrote our annotations and consolidated our information was formatted to a different project than what I am used to, and it was really refreshing to do history in a new way.