UMBC public historian Denise Meringolo and alumnus Joe Tropea discuss crowdsourcing history on WYPR

A year after the Baltimore Uprising of 2015, UMBC’s Denise Meringolo and alumnus Joe Tropea recently joined WYPR’s “Midday” program to discuss their work to gather and preserve a diverse range of perspectives and experiences from the events of last year.

Meringolo, an associate professor of history and director of public history, and Joe Tropea ’06, history, ’08 M.A., historical studies, are collaborating on a project to archive materials from the Baltimore Uprising through a website that was launched last year. Since the project began, there have been thousands of submissions from community members.

“It’s really the work of public history to be working with communities, not just for them, and not just producing historical interpretations with the eye of having publics read them, but really working with people to develop interpretations that help them think about who they are, what’s going on around them, and how the tools of history can help them arrive at a deeper understanding and achieve their personal goals,” Meringolo explained during the segment.

Meringolo described how the website was launched quickly last year when her students wanted to be responsive to narratives that were being shared in the national news about the events surrounding Freddie Gray’s death. They wanted to find a way to represent the complexity of what was happening and to allow community members to control their own narratives and represent how they were feeling.

Joe Tropea, who is now digital projects coordinator at the Maryland Historical Society, heard about the website and collaborated with Meringolo on the project.

“We sensed the importance of what was going on. It was obvious to us that this was something people will study years from now, so we made a decision to get proactive about it,” Tropea shared.

Listen to the complete segment “Crowdsourcing History” on the WYPR website. Read more about the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising 2015 Archive Project.

Image: Denise Meringolo. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.