Mobile Public History Project Plan


Group Members:


Angie Davis

Clete Edmunson

Ellen Matthew

Jena Herriott

Tentative Name for the Project:


The River Street Neighborhood: Changes in the Physical and Cultural Landscape 1890-1970

Learning Objectives:

 The area known today as River Street refers to the area north of the Boise River between 9th /Capitol and 15th and extends to what is now Myrtle. Between the years 1890 and 1970 the physical landscape has changed dramatically. This fact, in itself, tells a story of economic and cultural change in the City of Boise.

This project will discuss the transition of the neighborhood from its original owners, individuals including Tom and Julia Davis, whose land lies directly across Ninth/Capitol from River Street (for which Julia Davis Park is named), A.G. Miller, and John McLellan, a homesteader who established his home along the north side of the Boise River in 1863. McLellan also established the Ferry to cross the river (I believe this is where the old Ninth Street Bridge is now), and he soon began subdividing his land into the neighborhood which we now refer to as the River Street area.

By tracing these physical transitions we can trace the local cultural, economic, and political transitions as well. This project will help understand how cultural identities are constructed through the physical landscape, how the political environment influences the social structure of a city, and how a review of these relationships can expose the hierarchy of power within a growing city. It is clear that River Street became a designated living space for the working class as the railroad moved into town, leaving River Street physically separated from the city south of the tracks. This “catch-all” phrase, working-class, includes immigrants, ethnic minorities, and any other transient populations hoping to move up the social ladder.

Why was this neighborhood important then and why is its history important?

Inspiration for the Project:

 Inspiration for the project began with an interest in the River Street neighborhood and African Americans living in the community. Some members in the group were familiar with several African American oral histories and had an interest in learning more. Angie also interned at the Idaho Historic Library and transcribed oral histories. Some topics of interest include; community life, segregation, racism, economic opportunities, and push-pull factors of moving in and out of the community. Our group is also focusing on how the River Street neighborhood has changed or evolved from 1890-1970. After several discussions our group decided to expand on our topic and focus on the working class community in the River Street neighborhood, instead of only African Americans.


Similar Existing Projects:


The digital component of the project will use Omeka, which will include; photos, sound, oral history interviews, maps, information about River Street, and links to local museums. An advantage of Omeka is that it will be user friendly, accessible, and photos and sound will be high quality. A continuing activity that may also be included is the use of a walking tour of River Street with an app. The app may expand upon some free podcasts that provide audio or visual walking tours. Some websites that provide free access include:,, and These apps would be great for the project because they may include sound to inform a visitor, or display a map to direct visitors to a specific building or area. Liabilities with the use of either Omeka or an app, is that we have to learn to use the technology and how to best implement that technology with our project. An additional liability could be that the technology may be time intensive to learn, and the plan of our project may need to be modified.

Benefits of Using this Technology:


By delivering this history through a digital medium, we allow users to create their own experience, enriched through a visual, audible, and otherwise interactive platform. The Omeka platform serves this purpose, enabling a pre-packaged experience at the user’s convenience. But it also has the potential to deliver a personally engaging historical tour of a largely ignored section of Boise City. As mobile technology is becoming widely available, Omeka has made a point of utilizing this technology, and in that way we can also deliver a mobile experience as well. This first-person experience will take place as the user, who resides in the present, has the past delivered, in digital form, to their mobile device. We can enrich each of these experiences with photos, maps, and oral histories, making the journey as complete as possible.

Resources Needed to Complete the Project:

A list of 6 individuals/families we want to highlight

Research on political and economic forces causing change

Research for incidental information about neighborhood


Books about Boise

Dissertation by Pam Demo

Paper by John Bertram

Newspaper articles


Instruction about Omeka

Anticipated Challenges:

The River Street Neighborhood was a place that members of our group knew little about. We decided to do some initial information gathering to determine if we had chosen a good subject for our project. Happily, one challenge became quickly apparent when we met as a group to work on our plan. We discovered a wide range of information covering more than a century of the neighborhood’s history. We not only have to define our focus, we have to keep it and not get distracted by all the other information we would love to include. We have the challenge of keeping the project at a workable size for the time period in which we have to complete it. Our group also hopes learn and use Omeka. This technology is new to everyone in the group and we anticipate extra time needed for learning and implementing Omeka all at once. We decided we would store our initial work in Powerpoint. As with all group work, we will have to decide which parts of the project require meeting together and what we can do individually.


March 13-19- Research and collecting information

Tracking down hand scanner

March 20-26 – Narrative outline writing

March 27-April 2 (Spring Break) Start Powerpoint file

April 3-9 Work on Omeka

April 10-16 Trips to Museums, private collections, interviews

April 17-23 Compile findings and information

April 24-30 Finalize ideas

April 1-7 Edit project

Write paper



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