Bringing Howard Zinn’s Work
to 21st Century Audiences
In January 2022, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Howard Zinn, a new iteration of HowardZinn.org was launched that features a searchable collection of materials by and about Howard Zinn. The Howard Zinn Digital Collection allows visitors to sort by articles, books, essays, interviews, monographs, plays, speeches, and talks from publishers, broadcasters, organizations, archives, libraries, and personal holdings. Visitors can further focus their search by time periods and format type. This interface provides historians, researchers, and activists a way to delve deeper into Zinn’s life’s work. For those new to Zinn’s work, this interface allows for people to explore the range of materials available.
The Howard Zinn Digital Collection is a baseline version that will continue to grow and expand. Later this year the site will feature a way to filter the search by social movements, organizations, and people, as well as themes and topics that Zinn not only wrote about (sometimes as documentarian of events and protests), but was also involved with as part of his lifelong activism.
We also will continue to add new content. Our focus will be to catalog the original material held at various libraries, archives, and museums around the globe to serve as a guide post for historians, researchers, and activists to locate materials that may or may not be digitized or accessible online. When possible, we will publish materials at HowardZinn.org. Please let us know if you work at a library, archive, or museum and have material to add.
Building on this effort to catalog institutionally-held material is a campaign to provide greater accessibility to them, with a focus on audio visual material through a two-pronged approach. The first prong is to transcribe the material through the Transcribe Zinn project. We are always seeking volunteers and we offer training on a quarterly basis. Learn how to volunteer at the Transcribe Zinn page. The second prong is to digitize material, especially the material that is at high risk of deterioration or equipment obsoletion. In partnership with Tamiment Library, where the Howard Zinn Papers are housed, we are collecting pricing quotes. Please consider making a donation to help expedite the digitization so the material can be digitally preserved for future access.
But there’s more!
As part of the new HowardZinn.org version, the site features a new Bibliographica page that features Zinn’s books and his articles in various newspapers and magazines, showcasing Zinn’s written work that spans five decades.
Every book by Howard Zinn has its own listing in the Digital Collection. On each book page, we have also published the Table of Contents so historians, researchers, and activists can readily see areas covered in the books, and where available, a book preview is published [image 1]. Examples: SNCC: The New Abolitionists and The Zinn Reader. Books are linked to the Teaching for Change’s Social Justice Bookshop for more information and/or for purchase. [HowardZinn.org is a project of the non-profit organization Teaching for Change, in partnership with the Howard Zinn Revocable Trust.]
At the top of each item page are details about each item (metadata) including Format, Source or Publisher, Content Type, and Year [image 2].
To focus on promoting the digital collection to 21st century historians, scholars, and activists, on January 18, 2022, we launched a Twitter account, @ZinnDigital. Follow us! This account supplements the Howard Zinn Facebook account which has 218K followers.
Later this year, we will publish interactive timelines that highlight interviews and talks with Howard Zinn, providing another way to engage not just historians, researchers, and activists, but people new to Zinn’s work can browse an interactive selection of Zinn’s materials and watch/listen.
- Search materials by Howard Zinn and filter by format, content type, time period, and source or publisher.
- Book pages feature table of contents and previous book covers. Where available, a book preview is provided.
- Excerpts, articles, and essays are published when available or link out to source to continue reading.
- The Bibliographica page provides an overview of Zinn’s writings that spans five decades and includes books, articles, essays, and columns.
Ways to Contribute
- Let us know if a book, article, essay, or audiovisual material is not listed. We will review permissions and access to consider for inclusion.
- If you have print quality photos of Zinn that help tell a story, please let us know. We will review permissions, credits, and access to consider for inclusion. If you are a photographer of a picture posted on the website, let us know so we can credit you accordingly.
- Join the Transcribe Zinn project. Volunteers are sought to help transcribe audiovisual material using the Otter.ai software. Trainings are held quarterly.
- Make a contribution to help expedite the digitization of Zinn’s archival material.
- Search materials by social movements, organizations, individuals, and themes and topics.
- Continued growth of the listing of materials at libraries, archives, and museums.
- Continued growth of the listing of audiovisual material, their digitization status, and transcription (if available).
- Interactive timeline promoting materials.
The Howard Zinn Digital Collection was envisioned, designed, and created by Lauren Cooper, HowardZinn.org Digital Curator. Ideation and planning first began in the summer of 2018; the website was upgraded in summer 2020; collating information of materials and curation of metadata began in winter 2020; and the web development, in collaboration with Michelle Byrnes (student in Information and Science Technology at Penn State University) initiated in October 2021 using WordPress, Custom Post Type Plugin, and FacetWP Plugin with review by WPSiteCare. The Digital Collection site launched on January 14, 2022.