Center for Educational Computing Initiatives

Bringing History Home

    Bringing History Home is a web site that uses technology, interactive narrative and the resources of history museums to engage students in learning about the past.Bringing History Home The project is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives at MIT and three nationally significant cultural institutions: the Paul Revere House in Boston, Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, and the Tsongas Industrial History Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

    At the center of Bringing History Home are a series of historically-accurate interactive stories. The visitor is invited to assume the role of a character and to make choices, reflective of conditions at specific moments in American history, which will have dramatic consequences in the unfolding of the story. Text, documents, images, virtual reality, and video clips all help to inform the visitor about the historical context and their choices.

    The subject of each story is "Growing up in Changing Times." All three sites represent major turning points in American history: the first decades of colonial settlement in Plymouth, the Revolutionary War in Boston, and the early years of the Industrial Revolution in Lowell. The new opportunities and challenges that were created during these historical moments are reflected in the story lines and choices presented to the visitor.

    CECI has developed a series of tools for the site that help to place the power of web technology directly into the hands of the content experts. A database stores all the information used to generate the web pages. In addition to storing information for current stories the database becomes a rich pool for story authors to draw on when creating new scenarios. A story editor allows authors to set and control the story parameters, text, visuals, choices and wildcards (weighted outcomes for selected choices), all without the knowledge of html or higher programming. A story engine, composed of a collection of Java programs, then dynamically generates the html web pages based on the choices made by the visitor to the site.


  • Lestra Litchfield, MIT
  • Kirky DeLong, MIT

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