Baylor School holds amazing historical assets that testify to nearly 130 years of educational service. Throughout its history, the school has overcome financial panics, wartime disruptions, and outbreaks of disease, while maintaining a rigorous academic curriculum. Baylor’s history speaks to a tradition of academic excellence, as well as overcoming past challenges and adversity, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Baylor sought out HAI’s support in capitalizing on these assets to convey its rich history, including leveraging this content using groundbreaking digital technology to engage with current and prospective students and parents, alumni, the local community, and the global online public.
Our collaboration with Baylor began in 2019 when HAI conducted a visioning session and archives assessment with stakeholders. HAI developed a strategic plan for archival preservation and policy development, along with story creation and engagement using the Pass It Down digital exhibit platform. The use of Pass It Down’s platform will deliver engaging interactive content to Baylor students, staff, alumni, and visitors. Pass It Down provides an integrated platform to allow users to learn about the school’s history using mounted touchpads, web browsers, and smart devices. In addition, digital exhibits will be available through online access to share with a global audience.
HAI developed an initial set of digital stories in the Pass It Down platform to demonstrate how the school’s history would be shared. We developed a mosaic tile layout featuring moments in Baylor’s history and drafted various stories to begin to populate the site itself. As part of the prototype development, we suggested four compelling themes around which we could arrange their historical assets: 125 Years of Innovation; Overcoming Obstacles; Building Communities; and Baylor School All-Stars. Each theme would include around 40 to 50 stories. Time and costs to install the hardware components for this project and system testing were also included to provide a full packaged service.
After going on hold during the height of the COVID-19 health crisis, the project restarted in May 2021. We began by deploying a team of five archivists to Baylor’s site to help organize and catalog their archival materials. The team processed nearly 1,000 documents and publications, around 1,000 photographs of school life, reunions, founders, teachers, and students, and over 300 objects which included art, trophies, uniforms, sabers, class rings, and more.
Building on the work of our archivists, historians worked with Baylor to create a compelling digital exhibit that tracks the school’s evolution, highlights notable individuals, and shares relevant stories of key events. In tandem with the archivists being on-site to process collections, our historian lead kicked off their history efforts by traveling to Baylor to review collection items, interview long-term faculty and staff, and begin outlining potential stories. HAI then conducted additional research at local repositories, national institutions like the National Archives and Library of Congress, newspaper databases, and presidential libraries.
HAI collaborated with Baylor to draft an outline of stories, organized around key themes. It then began drafting the text and identifying images and multimedia to feature in each story. Using the Pass It Down platform, the team created a dynamic digital exhibit that allows many of the items from Baylor’s collection, as well as key items from other repositories, to be shared with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and prospective students. The final product can be viewed online or at specialty kiosks installed throughout the campus.