SCI hosts "Floating Conference"

Jan 28, 2019

As part of a National Park Service Maritime Heritage Grant, the Seamen’s Church Institute hosted a one-day “floating conference” on Friday, January 25th, 2019 at the Waterfront Museum, aboard a lighterage barge moored in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The focus of the conference was digital maritime heritage.

The event reached capacity, with attendees representing the City’s maritime organizations, including museums, historic vessels, maritime academies, city agencies, preservation advocacy groups, and technology non-profits.

Presentations were delivered aboard the Lehigh Valley no. 79 lighterage barge, with some forty attendees gathered around a cozy wood stove as temperatures dipped well below freezing outside. The energy inside, however, was on high as participants exchanged ideas, resources, and contacts.

PortSide NewYork kicked things off with a demonstration of their “e-museum” WaterStories, which harnesses the significant power of digital archives software and live-action harbor data to connect Red Hook’s past with New York Harbor’s dynamic present.

The Trustees of Sailors’ Snug Harbor were next with an overview of their organization’s history as a home for “aged, decrepit and worn-out sailors,” and the provenance of its extensive archives. Dr. John Rocco from SUNY Maritime College followed with a fantastic case study of how the College’s Maritime and Naval Studies program has harnessed the Sailors’ Snug Harbor inmate records to build innovative digital curriculum.

After lunch, South Street Seaport Museum gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the Museum has developed an in-house inventory handbook and style guide for the purpose of managing their fascinating and endlessly rich maritime collections.

Dr. Johnathan Thayer, Senior Archivist at SCI, followed with a 101-introduction to best practices and practical guidelines for digitization projects involving maritime cultural materials. Thayer also demonstrated the evolution of SCI’s digital archives program since its inception in 2010.

The technology non-profit Urban Archive delivered a final presentation that included an exciting look at their mobile app, which tells the story of NYC’s history through geolocated digital archival photographs and augmented reality development.

Stefan Dreisbach-Williams, Associate Archivist at SCI, concluded proceedings with an open discussion to tie up loose ends and consider next steps.

SCI hopes that as participants reflect on the Floating Conference, they remain excited by new ideas and inspired for new directions as we continue collectively into our City’s maritime future.

Photos of the event can be found here.


New York Digital Maritime Heritage
Floating Conference

A one-day workshop on digital maritime heritage, hosted by the Seamen's Church Institute of NY and NJ, facilitated by a National Park Service Maritime Heritage Grant.

Friday, January 25, 2019
10:00am - 4:00pm

The Waterfront Museum
290 Conover St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(Red Hook)

For the full program, see PDF below.

Associated PDF: