This spring, the Tech Commons @ N-YHS welcomed our second cohort of Tech Scholars. Young women grades 9-12 from four of the five boroughs came every day for a week to the Tech Commons to explore the intersections of women’s history and web development. The group was tasked with building websites to share not only their research about notable women in history, but also their newfound web development skills. They spent their week diving into the stories of numerous inspiring women and translating those stories into websites.
To start the week, scholars practiced object analysis, working in the Tiffany Gallery and Luce Center to interpret historical materials and the real people who created and used them. They were particularly interested in Clara Driscoll, whose attribution—“probably Clara Driscoll”—accompanies many of the lamps in our Gallery of Tiffany Lamps. Driscoll, the head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department and designer at Tiffany Studios, went uncredited for her work until about a decade ago. The Tech Scholars were curious about how such a major contribution could go undocumented, and they were passionate to learn about other women like Driscoll.
Fortunately, Sarah Gordon and Nick Juravich from our Center for Women’s History visited the scholars to talk about the challenges and importance of researching notable people—often women—whose lives and work have been greatly excluded from historical documentation. Gordon also shared her insight into designing digital experiences, such as our Women’s Voices interactive installation. Inspired to begin their research and create that documentation, the Tech Scholars immediately dove into their work, uncovering a variety of primary and secondary sources to tell the stories of their subjects.
Scholars explored galleries, books, and the web for information about their research topics. Many focused their research on the internet, where they felt most comfortable. In fact, throughout all of their research, scholars also learned about the foundations of the web—HTML and CSS coding—and about women like Grace Hopper who laid the groundwork for these languages.
They fused their roles as historians and web developers, using these coding languages to build websites to creatively represent the lives and work of individuals such as Leslie Feinberg, Mary Church Terrell, and Barbara Johns. Scholars even had the opportunity to meet with and learn from women who are currently shaping the world around them through their professional work including Janet Cowell, CEO of Girls Who Invest; Susan H. Waterfall, director of investment marketing and founder of Citytrack Inc.; Marisa Jahn, new media artist and activist; and a number of incredible women from BNY Mellon.
At the end of the week, scholars added the finishing touches to their sites before presenting them to guests and Museum staff. In addition to sharing the stories of their subjects with guests, students also explained their development process, their coding challenges and—even more so—their victories. We’re excited to share this newest series of sites with the public! Check them out at the links below.
Betty Friedan by Adrienne Huang
The Guerrilla Girls by Afifa Afrin
Mary Church Terrell by Aminata Gadji
Barbara Johns by Annelisa Kingsbury Lee
Heather McKay by Clara Lehv
Susan Sontag by Dulce Marquez
Brenda Berkman by Ishrat Soha
Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Reshmi Anwar
Leslie Feinberg by Mira-Rose Kingsbury Lee
Melba Pattillo Beals by Zyatta Balbot
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu by Lisha Zheng
Written by Lena Sawyer
We are now welcoming applications for two more Tech Scholar cohorts in August! Learn more about becoming a Tech Scholar. Stay tuned for more Tech Commons programming, coming in the fall!