Three graduate students from the MA in History–Museum Studies participated in the panel.

Location-based Storytelling with WordPress: Green Book Cleveland and Queer Cleveland

Dr. J. Mark Souther, Erin J. Bell, Riley Habyl, Elena Solá, and Bali White

From the Program abstracts

Our panel will focus on the development and uses of PlacePress (, a modern WordPress plugin for location-based digital tours and stories that we developed in the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities ( with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mark Souther will outline how PlacePress drew inspiration from the Center’s earlier practice of location-based digital storytelling. The Center had developed the Curatescape framework (, which supports the CSU-based Cleveland Historical and numerous other projects around the world. Our decision to create a WordPress alternative to the Omeka-based Curatescape sprang from several years of research that focused on optimizing Curatescape for developing-world contexts. Our NEH-funded collaboration with an East African university led us to create a Curatescape-like WordPress plugin prototype in support of a location-based history project about Kisumu, Kenya (, and that in turn led to PlacePress.

Erin Bell will discuss the considerations that informed PlacePress development, including the need to design a simple but flexible tool, and how we came to see that even a simple solution still benefits immensely from being conversant with how WordPress works and having a firm grasp of how websites are best organized. He will demonstrate how the plugin works, how it differs from other similar tools such as Curatescape, and highlight some strategies for effectively employing it in projects.

After this introduction to PlacePress, three graduate students who have been among the first to develop content with the plugin will introduce two CSU-based PlacePress projects in which they are currently involved.

Bali White will introduce Green Book Cleveland (, a restorative history project that maps and documents sites of Black leisure, recreation, and entertainment in Northeast Ohio in the era of the Green Book guides for Black travelers (1930s-60s). She will then share an example of her research on nightclubs in the Cedar-Central neighborhood.

Riley Habyl and Elena Solá will then introduce their roles in conceptualizing and contextualizing the new Queer Cleveland project (, which maps and documents hundreds of historical LGBTQ+ sites in Cleveland from the 1930s to the 2010s. Riley and Elena will close by sharing a couple of examples of the project’s location types and narratives.

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