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Professor launches oral history project about marathon bombing

Posted 10/22/13

The Boston Marathon bombing on April 15 was a moment we will never forget, and for historian Katherine Jewell – a Fitchburg State University faculty member – it was personal.

Jewell, pushing her 3-year-old son in a stroller, was close enough to the second explosion to feel the blast and smell the smoke. In the tumultuous days that followed, Jewell turned to her training as a historian in an attempt to make sense of the experience, chronicling the details, locations and conversations that erupted from the chaos.

That has now grown into a “crowdsourced” oral history project, where Jewell – a member of Fitchburg State’s Economics, History and Political Science Department faculty – is looking to collect other experiences from that fateful day. Mapping the Boston Marathon 2013 is now live and seeking input from the public.

The map is a place where anyone who experienced the Boston marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 can record their story. The database and map that the project seeks to build is not limited to those who were injured, or were otherwise near the blast site. Rather, it seeks to establish a collective narrative and sense of how the events spiraled out from the blast sites. Anyone is welcome to add their story to the map. Where were you when you heard about the bombing? How did you find out? How did you react? Did you have friends or family who were running the marathon, or who were present at the site of the bombs?

“This project brings together multiple voices and experience to create a crowdsourced collective history of the events of April 15, 2013,” said Jewell, a member of Fitchburg State’s Economics, History and Political Science Department faculty. The data recorded will be publicly available and searchable for present and future research. “Together, these stories will not only record the experiences of Bostonians and their friends and family across the country and the world, but will also serve as a place of connection and reflection. We honor the victims of this senseless tragedy, and seek to support those who still struggle with injuries sustained by the bombs. We want to provide broad based documentary evidence that Boston Strong is real, powerful, and meaningful.”

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