Histories 
of the National Mall


Uncovering the history you never see with your mobile

    on the National Mall

Sheila A. Brennan, Associate Director of Public Projects
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
@sherah1918 | sbrennan@gmu.edu

Most Visitors See the Mall as This


Mall Once Looked like this


How would you Know?

In this area of the Mall:

there was a railroad station;

a canal;

an assassination at the train station;

slaves were bought and sold.

Why build this?


  •  Saw a need for interpretation on the Mall
 about the Mall.
  •  Public history scholarship rarely incorporated into public sites.
  • RRCHNM is a neutral organization, with NEH funding 
    site isn't about marketing individual institutions, it's about the history of a public space.
  • Experience and interest in building better ways to deliver content to different audiences.

Committed to Responsive Web design for greatest accessibility & Sustainability

Started with sketches









           Historical Map Layers
Questions about episodes in Mall history             



                Interesting People
Significant Events                     






What We've Done


  • Built in Omeka
    • custom map layering (leaflet.js) plugin + Geolocation
    • exhibit builder for "explorations" and Scavenger Hunt
    • Custom responsive theme (all 2.0 themes, responsive)
  • Created lots of content
    • Started with public domain, open content
    • Bringing together resources from diff institutions
  • Testing
    • Started with sketches-> undesigned site->current
    • Map and filtering testing, on-site
    • Content testing: what is of interest to diff people

What's Next?


  • Publicity for March 2014 launch

  • Adding more content, exploring partnerships with area institutions to focus on their stories, their sources

  • Translations?

  • Analyzing use and  feedback

Remaining ?s


  • Challenges of not being associated w/Mall institution:

Will people use, re-use, tell friends (even w/partnerships)?


  • Public wifi


  • Keeping it fresh after 2015 when funding ends


Thank you!

Sheila Brennan | @sherah1918

Histories of the National Mall

By sbrennan

Histories of the National Mall

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