A Collaborative Happening at Duke

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Duke’s HistoryHackathon adds a historical twist to the hackathon concept. It’s a contest for undergraduate student teams researching historical documents and creating imaginative projects over a 72-hour window.

The 2015 HistoryHackathon took place October 23-25 in The EDGE and Rubenstein Library.

The Heretics: Behind Closed Doors: A Look Inside Insane Asylums of the 19th Century

We are pleased to announce that our first place winner and HistoryHackathon award winner for Pedagogy and Digital History is The Heretics. Their project is a short documentary about insane asylums in the 19th century.

They explore the motivations of mental treatment: whether it was geared towards helping them become better or if it was a system of segregation in which people who had contrary opinions and beliefs from the social norm were separated from society. They also explore the various treatments given to patients, and focus upon the care of women, since as a power-inferior minority they represent the clearest picture of what happened behind the closed doors of these institutions.

  • Likhitha Butchireddygari
  • Christine Kinyua
  • Jules Frost
  • Meagan Stanley

American Development of Police Militarization

We are pleased to announce that our second place winner and HistoryHackathon award winner for Contemporary History is the project, American Development of Police Militarization. Their project is a website showcasing the militarization of the American police.

  • Sonny Byun
  • Sydney Waldman
  • Natasha Torrens
  • Jake Parker
  • Mary Aline Fertin

View their submission »

Team Kay: Allen Building Takeover: Inherently Violent or Necessary Reaction?

We are pleased to announce that our third place winner and HistoryHackathon award winner for Public History and Archival Creativity is Team Kay. Her project is an exploration of the campus climate around the 1969 takeover of the Allen Building at Duke.

Team Members

  • Kay Zhang

Note: Kay was allowed to participate even though the rest of her team did not appear.

View their submission: [1] [2]

LOMA: The Many Facets of Israel through Postcards

We are pleased to announce that the team LOMA has won the 2015 HistoryHackathon’s Award for Visual History. Their project is an exploration of Israel over time based on postcards and photographs from across the twentieth century, combining geo-location and modern images to juxtapose past and present.

Team Members

  • Madeleine Roberts
  • Ofir Golan
  • Lucy Zhang

View their submission »

Historical Faction: Yellow Fever Through the Ages

We are pleased to announce that the team Historical Faction has won the 2015 HistoryHackathon’s Award for Originality. Their project is a series of public service announcement-style posters showing the evolution of yellow fever treatments in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

Team Members

  • Nidhila Masha
  • Heather Zhou
  • Cheenu Tiwari
  • Mustafa Fattah

View their submission »

Testimonials from the 2015 HistoryHackathon

We had heard of a hackathon but never in the context of historical research. We wanted to participate so we could enrich our understanding of subject matter we found interesting, and the event was a good opportunity to explore Duke’s research resources. It was enjoyable because our group’s collaboration could really drive the direction of our research, which led us to a more comprehensive understanding of our topic. We would participate again, especially now that we have a greater understanding of Duke’s infrastructure to support inquiry and research.

Jake Parker

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The Duke Chronicle Covers the HistoryHackathon

Many thanks to Rob Palmisano and the Duke Chronicle for their coverage of our event in today’s Chronicle.

At Duke’s first-ever HistoryHackathon—which occurred during a 72-hour period last weekend—undergraduate student teams created collaborative research projects using the collections at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. A panel of experts will rank the top three projects by Nov. 1 and award cash prizes to the winners. The event was designed to expose undergraduates from all disciplines to the Rubenstein collections and allow them to work with graduate students, faculty and librarians, said Ryan Poe, a history Ph.D. candidate and one of the organizers of the event.

Read more of Rob’s coverage at The Chronicle‘s website

As a slight correction, the Rubenstein Library holds 10,000 manuscript collections (comprising over 17 million documents) and 350,000 rare books! Wow!


During the 2015 event we had a host of food options, from boxed lunches, to fruits and nuts, to pizza and lasagna! We did our best to make sure our History Hackers did not go hungry while researching and creating their projects.

Breakfast for Sunday morning.

Breakfast for Sunday morning.

Carbs and greens for the final push.

Carbs and greens for the final push.

Project Submission Form

Hackathoners, your projects are now available for submission! Please submit your project via our Project Submission Form. Please follow all of the directions!

You must:

  1. Fully complete the project submission form
  2. Enter correct names and email addresses for each team member
  3. Then email your project to HistoryHackathon@Duke.edu with the subject “HistoryHackathon Submission: (Your Team Name Here)”

If one or more of these steps is not followed, your team members may not be properly paid or your project might not be able to be judged.

Projects are due by 11pm , Sunday, October 25!

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