Grant to Help History App Strengthen Black History Offerings


  A team at Marshall University has received a Knight News Challenge Grant to take a smart phone or mobile device history app and improve its black history offerings.

The application called The Clio app gives downloaders a better look at historical sites in the world around them. With the app open and using the GPS locations services on the smart phone the application can tell phone owners what historic sites are within 10, 25. 50 or 100 miles of their current location. Marshall University History Professor David Trowbridge created the app.

“Clio picks up your location and shows you the history and cultures that’s around you,” Trowbridge said. “It’s very similar to locater type apps like Yelp, but instead of guiding you to a restaurant or repair shop, it guides you to historic landmarks or museums, as well as it can show you historic events that happened.”

Working with a team of people from Marshall’s Drinko Library and the School of Journalism the app received a Knight News Challenge Grant of $35,000 to broaden the scope of black history offerings on the application. The Knight News Challenge was launched in September of 2014 as a way to make libraries more innovative, educational and useful for the public.

Burnis Morris is a Marshall University Professor who studies black history and specifically Carter G. Woodson. Using his research on Woodson, a Huntington native and forefather in Black History in Appalachia, Marshall Libraries will strengthen a database of black history and tie it to the application. The Clio app takes downloaders to the locations of historical events around their current location. From there it provides them resources like audio and video about the historical significance of the event. Morris said it helps illustrate the role of African Americans in the history of Appalachia.

“I’ve collected some documents that I hope will be digitized and I’m hoping to acquire others to help tell this story about African Americans in Appalachia, if nothing more than to dispel the rumor that there aren’t any,” Morris said.

The Clio app has a database of 5,000 museums, art galleries, monuments, sculptures and historical sites. The app uses work from archivists, graduate assistants and reviewed user submitted entries to add historical sites all across the country.