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Student-created website gives interactive parish history lesson

By Michelle Stuckey -   Jan 12, 2012

The website will have an interactive timeline that will make it easy to scroll through years of parish history.
Courtesy photo
The website will have an interactive timeline that will make it easy to scroll through years of parish history.

Parishioners will soon be able to browse through centuries of parish history with the click of a button. The St. Charles Museum and Historical Association has partnered with the Satellite Center to create a new website to preserve information for the next generation.

Team members at the Satellite Center created the website for the society using information from the recently-released book "St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History." The site invites visitors to "journey through our past, relive our historic events, visit with the founding fathers and follow the path of the first explorers."

"Basically we took the book…and took all that information and put it online," said Brian Gough, interactive media facilitator at the Satellite Center. Gough said there will also be more pictures and videos added to the site. "They have a lot of work left to do on it."

The website will feature an interactive map that shows all the plantations in the parish – even those that are no longer in existence. It will also have an interactive timeline that will make it easy to scroll through the years of parish history and see what events took place.

The St. Charles Museum and Historical Association received a grant from Shell-Motiva to establish the museum.

Now that the student team members have created the basics on the site, it is up to the historical association and a web designer to fill in all of the historical information and add videos and pictures.

"We worked with (the association) to build it and now all they have to do is go in and put in the information," Gough said. "My team members pretty much did this all on their own. They would go through so many different technologies and get a week of work into it and then realize they didn’t think it would work."

Gough said the students worked diligently for three months, even doing video chats and meeting at restaurants when they didn’t have class.

"The association told them from the beginning that they started the book, but it would be up to (the team members) to lay the foundation to tell the story for years to come," Gough said. "They took that to heart."

He said that in the end, the project was very important to everyone who worked on it.

"The more they learned about the history of the parish, the more they wanted everyone to learn about it," he said. "This tool became very important to them to be able to foster this information for the future.

"The more we dove into it, the more all of us realized this has to be done right and it has to be something that will carry on in the future."

The students echoed Gough’s feelings on the importance of the project.

"This project was a great eye-opener to how much St. Charles Parish connects to the big picture of the history of the United States," said Riana Karger, a senior at Hahnville High who worked on the website.

Rita Carlson, president of the association, said that she is unsure when the site will be open to the public.

"This year is the bicentennial of Louisiana so we hope to have it open this year," Carlson said. "Our criteria for opening is that we will have enough content entered so that people will want to see it. However, we do want it to be very interactive with many videos, maps and interviews."

She said that the association also hopes to keep the site updated as new parish history is made.

"This is an ongoing project; as new history is made, it will need to be added to be kept up to date," she said. "We will be looking for input from citizens just like we did with our book, so people need to keep their old home movies, photos and family stories ready for when we advertise for them to be included."

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