In Fall of 2016, I joined the Digital Scholarship Group team to assist in the development of one of the flagship CERES: Exhibit Toolkit websites, the Catskills Institute. Previously housed by Brown University, the Catskills Institute is a collection of postcards, pamphlets, and other memorabilia as well as personal anecdotes and recollections curated by Phil Brown.
This semester, I was tasked with migrating content from the original Catskills website to the new toolkit site. The challenge lay in recreating the content as closely as possible but within an entirely new site structure. The most memorably difficult process was creating the Hotels and Bungalows listing, attempting to mirror the original as closely as possible (but with slightly easier navigation). The CERES: Exhibit Toolkit is a fantastic plugin, but requires a bit of creativity in order to replicate a page anew. I succeeded in breaking the toolkit by trying too much text on one page, thus the separation of the list into four.
I learned so much about the Catskills region from my work on this project. I had no idea the importance it held in American Jewish culture, in a time when that culture was sparingly documented. Phil Brown and the rest of the Catskills Institute have done an amazing job of preserving history and nostalgia. My favorite part of the site has to be Mountain Memoirs and Historical Essays. This section definitely holds the most content, with over eighty different essays, stories, and recollections about summers in the Catskills. Of all the stories collected, Summer Technicolor stands out the most. While many of these pieces tell what it was like at the bungalow colonies, this one is best at making you feel like you’re there too.
My work with the Catskills Institute has wrapped up for now, and I look forward to assisting with other DSG projects this Spring!