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Emile NaickerHistory major Emile Naicker demonstrates the web site he created that's devoted to the history of the Manchester United football club.

Students preserve history on web

When Emile Naicker came to university, he never imagined he’d be able to combine his love for history with his passion for his favourite football club.

But that’s just what the fourth-year history major did when he signed up for an innovative course taught by Heidi Jacobs and Rob Nelson called History on the Web. Designed to teach students how to integrate historical archives and other resources with modern communications technology, the course required each one to create a project demonstrating how they would preserve history on the internet.

Last Wednesday, the students presented their results.

“Basically they had to pitch a creative project, and it had to be a permanent digital archive,” said Dr. Nelson, a history professor.

Naicker, a lifelong fan of the Manchester United soccer club, used Go Daddy to create a web site dedicated to preserving the history of his favourite team. Besides links to other resources, the site also contained old newspaper clippings, videos and tabbed pages dedicated to legendary players like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I thought this would be a purely academic course, but it was really cool,” said Naicker. “We really got to see how the web impacts everything we do as historians.”

Some of the other projects included a blog that helps lay audiences better understand the legitimacy of various resources; a video walking tour of historic Sandwich; a geographical mapping of all the various tours by the Beatles; a website based on obituaries from the Leamington Post; a video on the history of the internet; and a website devoted to the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Jacobs said the class is among the most unusual of its kind.

“There’s not a lot of evidence of other programs doing anything quite like this,” she said.