This is an experiment. For some time, historians have been investigating new ways of using digital media and tools to “do” history. In my own research, I have been interested in geographies of capitalism and political activity of groups interested in affecting political economy. In this experiment, I’m combining digital humanities and my interest in historical geography to serve a personal and community goal. As I’ve documented, my role as an historian has helped me come to terms with the events of the 2013 marathon, as I experienced them. However, in one area my quest has proved unfulfilling: my inability to compare my experience with others around me. My only companion was 3 years old at the time, and my attention was focused on keeping him safe and removing him from the area. I conceived of this project as a way to gather information, but in sharing it with friends and colleagues, a bigger idea grew.
The Project. The Mapping the Boston Marathon 2013 project seeks input from the public. The map is a place where anyone who experienced the Boston marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 can record their story. The database and map that the project seeks to build is not limited to those who were injured, or were otherwise near the blast site. Rather, it seeks to establish a collective narrative and sense of how the events spiraled out from the blast sites. Anyone is welcome to add their story to the map. Where were you when you heard about the bombing? How did you find out? How did you react? Did you have friends or family who were running the marathon, or who were present at the site of the bombs? What makes this project unique is that it seeks to establish a geography of an event, both at the immediate level and broadly defined. Communities exist across space and time, and we can better understand the communities affected by this event by looking at them spatially.
The Goal. This project brings together multiple voices and experience to create a crowdsourced collective history of the events of April 15, 2013. The data recorded will be publicly available and searchable for present and future research. Together, these stories will not only record the experiences of Bostonians and their friends and family across the country and the world, but will also serve as a place of connection and reflection. We honor the victims of this senseless tragedy, and seek to support those who still struggle with injuries sustained by the bombs. We want to provide broad based documentary evidence that Boston Strong is real, powerful, and meaningful.
How to contribute. Of course, the first and most valuable donation you can make is to the One Fund. To be involved in the Mapping the Boston Marathon 2013 project, all you need is a story to tell and a willingness to share it. You may do so anonymously, or you may share your identity. If you wish to be listed as a contributor to the site but not have your name connected with your story, fill out the contact form. To add your story, visit the link located on the Map page of this website.