Marshall University has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to enhance the Clio historical app created by David Trowbridge, an associate professor of history in the university’s College of Liberal Arts.
The NEH has awarded $60,000, pending a $60,000 match raised through the institution, to be granted in $20,000 installments over the next three years. The funding will help further develop the Clio app, which was named for the muse of history in Greek mythology and provides GPS-guided information on historical and cultural landmarks in both small towns and large cities across the United States. Information about Clio also can be found online at www.theclio.com.
Trowbridge refers to Clio as a “curiosity engine” because it can notify a user about fascinating places and histories they might otherwise miss. Users can search Clio’s growing database of historical sites or use its location-aware feature to discover nearby history. On track to have more than six million page views in 2017, Clio allows its users to create their own entries, which are vetted by experts, as well as their own walking or driving tours. They can also browse or search by keywords or location, or they can let the mobile app notify them about nearby sites as they walk or drive.
The NEH funds will provide stipends for scholars at Marshall, West Virginia State University and West Virginia University, as well as wages for students hired to create new entries and features, including free, digital heritage trails and walking tours on the app. A team of scholars, librarians and museum professionals will be working with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Appalachian Studies Association, West Virginia Division of History and Culture, the Foundation for the Tri-State and the West Virginia Association of Museums.
“We are looking for funding partners to help us build the capacity for audio tours and hands-free features that could work with existing GPS platforms, so you can truly just ‘go’ and discover history as you move through space, as if you were traveling with a team of historians, libraries and locals,” Trowbridge said.
“Like many inventions born out of necessity, Clio has been shaped by public demand,” said Trowbridge, who joined Marshall in 2008 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. “I started thinking about the reasons why people enjoyed history, and the reason why a family might get in their car and drive for hours to visit a battlefield. I asked why a family might spend their Saturday walking through a museum. It occurred to me that the beauty of heritage tourism was its capacity to connect our sense of place to our sense of the past.
“If you care about people, you go where they are. While I can’t embed a historian next to every historical marker, a mobile app can connect people to their work.”
Receiving an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities is a tremendous honor, Trowbridge said.
“I hope the people of West Virginia enjoy using Clio and value the way it blends technology with education, and has the potential to support heritage tourism, as we connect both residents and visitors to the history of our communities,” he said.
Marshall’s grant was among $39.3 million the NEH is awarding to 245 humanities projects in this round of funding, announced earlier today. Learn more about the recipients at https://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2017-08-02.
The NEH goes back to1965, when it was founded as an independent federal agency to support research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. It funds selected, peer-reviewed proposals from throughout the United States. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.
To learn more about the app or about contributing to Clio’s development through a tax-deductible donation to the Marshall University Foundation, contact David Trowbridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.