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Histories has become a signature public history project at RRCHNM. It currently hosts nearly 500 items, 90 People, 96 Past Events, and 46 Explorations, including 4 Scavenger Hunts. As of December 2015, the site had over 73,000 unique visitors.


The project was well-received in the public history community, and feedback from targeted audiences has also been positive. The NEH selected Histories as one of its exemplar public digital humanities projects in May 2014, with the directors being asked to participate in an event at the US Capitol highlighting the NEH’s best digital work.

In December 2015, the site was featured in Slate as one of the most compelling digital history exhibits of the year.

In February 2015, the National Council on Public History (NCPH) selected Histories of the National Mall as the winner of the 2015 Outstanding Public History Project Award. Sheila Brennan was asked to write a guest post for the NCPH blog, History@Work, that highlighted all of the award-winning projects. The project’s recognition by NCPH prompted the American Historical Association to invite Sharon Leon to write about Histories for their blog, AHA Today. 


Building Histories of the National Mall: A guidebook to creating a digital public history project


Histories is still online today at mallhistories.org. Because it was built for the mobile web, the materials are still available and easy to find, even after the NEH grant funding has ended. All of the items are also located in a publicly accessible Zotero library. The site is installed on a server owned and operated by RRCHNM and will be maintained for the foreseeable future, with content updated on an as-needed basis.

The project directors have received multiple inquiries from cultural heritage professionals who liked the project and wanted to know how to build something similar. The team published a free “Building Historiesguide online, documenting the project process. It has been a featured resource on the websites of the National Council on Public History and the American Association for State and Local History.

Histories is also being incorporated into syllabi and class discussions for public and digital history course at George Mason University, University of Maryland College Park, Northeastern University, Georgia State University, and others.


The RRCHNM team is proud of their work and accomplishments in building the mallhistory.org site. It remains an exemplary example of digital public history, and the ingenuity of the mobile-optimized platform was instrumental to its success. By publishing the project production guide, the team hopes to help others to build similarly successful and accessible projects.