Author Archives: Majel Peters

Week 13—MTS personal update

It’s been a great week. There are all the loose ends to sort of tie together, but they are being tied. We had a great meeting on Saturday and settled on key dates to wrap things up and start testing, and it all feels doable. Knowing me, I’ll throw in some extra tasks (still more activists who could be written up and added to this iteration!!), but I’ll try not to be unreasonable. 

Last Saturday, Estefany and I attended the 11th Annual Columbia University Pow wow. Estefany met my kids, and I got to share a little pan-Indian culture with her. We put in a valiant effort to win the potato dance along side my sons, and we danced a twisty-turny two-step. Although there was nothing specific to the Wampanoag on display, going to pow wows always bring strong feelings of taking in strong medicine. The drumbeat always heals me and centers me, and I enjoy the flashbacks of spending summers on the pow wow circuit with my mother.  

Before the break I was able to correspond with Professor George Price a bit, and I’m looking forward to getting more of his input on the work as a whole. We started an interesting discussion about the threat of kidnapping faced by Wampanoag of mixed heritage who didn’t live within native communities. He also pointed me to a passage in his book, The Eastons: Five Generations of Human Rights Activism, 1748-1935 (about a prominent and exceptional mixed family of Wampanoag heritage from whom he depends), in which Hosea Easton considers the different attitudes that whites had towards Indians and Afro-Americans. In it H. Easton offers that whites had gotten what they wanted from the native community: land, and so they no longer considered them as a threat or even really existing, despite evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, it was their very bodies and labor of Afro-Americans that whites wanted and that was a perpetual location for exploitation holding a continued emotional/political/economic charge. This has me thinking about how the Wampanoag, mixed and otherwise, denied this role as innocuous or irrelevant subdued wards, and made their presence and intentions known through, among other things, their activism. 

MTS—Week 13 Team Update

We’ve streamlined, fine-tuned and realigned and we’re now a lean-mean-closing machine. We’ve cut back on unessential functionality and more expansive content, and have opted for a pared down but still highly engaging and impactful first iteration of the project. The project, via visual design and content curation, has a tight focus that drives home the key issue areas that concerned Wampanoag activists and how they fit into the larger landscape of activity during the era. Color coding and UX guidance to explanatory copy equips visitors with the context needed to walk away with, hopefully, a distance impression of our intentions.


Estefany is working on generating launch posts for our social channels based on templates that highlight key aspects of the project content. She is pulling copy from the research documents to account for captions and longer format expressions. 

Next steps:

  • Design highlights
  • Start posting 



Zelda is creating CSS stylesheets and front end layouts based on finalized wireframes. Elizabeth is styling the timeline and populating entries. Connections between the database and functional elements (map/timeline) are ongoing. Our goal is to be fine-tuning a fully functioning site by the end of next week.  

Next steps:

  • Create up-to-date JSON with the live database
  • Purchase platform space and activate freestanding database after troubleshooting local expression



Estefany has already starting building our following (almost at 30 as of posting). She’s branded our social accounts and started following key accounts and spreading awareness by word of mouth. Some team members are planning on attending the Columbia University Powwow this weekend to enjoy the event and potentially make additional connections.


Next steps:

  • Launch social next week
  • Emails to key folks once the website is launched.
  • Continued social audience building


Research of the short list of core activists and events is entered into the database with relevant copy, images, and mapping coordinates. Time permitting we will add more—but the priority now is to get a functioning project that demonstrates our concept. 

Next steps:

  • Majel and Elizabeth  to wrap up the remaining site copy (about us page, timeline specific blurbs) and assist with outreach. 
  • Updates to the project presentation deck 


MTS Week 13—Rounding the Bend

It feels like the course end is suddenly closing in fast. We’ve done so much in the past weeks, and most of the team even anticipated trucking along through the break—but, surprise, people needed an actual break. The amount that has been done so far is so impressive and we have so much to be proud of—at this point we just need to tie it all up into a shareable experience so people can really see and feel that effort. 

“Just” I say— but, yet it is a “just.” Just be honest with ourselves about what is doable, where we are, and where we can get. I feel positive about what we can still accomplish, but I am looking forward to sharing space with the team so we can get aligned and feel each others energy as we start to bring the project to shareable life. Everyone has been asked to take a look at their own work streams and consider places they can simplify and consolidate so we can discuss what places to streamline while getting us as close to our vision as we can. 

As for me personally, before the break, in the days just before the break I closed out the research portion of the project and briefly shifted my focus to my other classes to make sure everything was in a good position for my return (I was on a family trip that made it impossible to work). Now that we are back, I am devoting as much time as I can to writing the remaining front end copy (finished the glossary today!—anticipate the front end copy done this week), and supporting on outreach (specifically social content). These are all within my wheelhouse, so I currently feel good about getting myself in the position to finetune our presentation materials in a timely manner—family and other courses-permitting.     

Week 10 – MTS Update

 This week has been a mix of housekeeping and keeping the ball rolling. With two team meetings and two 1-1 meetings, a lot of important work was realized.

A Little Team Reflection

After a fruitful team workshop (we learned more about our working styles and what we value and can offer in a team environment) and project retro (we discussed what is working well and not so well) we feel even more aligned as a team. It was good to hear people talk about their needs and styles in their own words, some being new insights while others we may have noticed in practice already. The retro helped us figure out that none of us have really been using our project management software because it just felt like yet another app to adjust to and navigate. Many team members had devised tracking systems in places they are more familiar, and as a team we decided to move to an overall checklist to help us mark major milestones, rather than tracking each minute step as a team. We’ll review it fully with the team on Wednesday, but Elizabeth and I were pleased to see that we have pretty much hit our goals give or take a few days. Some processes have changed since the plan was formulated, pushing certain things out a little, but the crux of the work is on track. 

Keeping the Ball Rolling

In the last week I was able to enter several events and new activists, getting me closer to finishing up with my research goals by the end of this week. There’s still quite a bit to write up, but I feel good about having a finite list of things to check off. It’s definitely doable, and it will definitely require a real push. 

Meeting with Estefany to discus social was very helpful. We were able to discuss content themes for posting and figure out what kinds of templates would suit our needs. She will be pulling language from the project proposal and our outreach plan to create some key messaging that we can apply to our communications. I’ll be pulling some inspo and helping brainstorm specific posts that fit under our themes. This is fully in my wheelhouse, so I feel confident that I can fit this in with the research I need to do. 

I also had a good check in with Elizabeth who took on a major chunk of research in the last weeks. She was so fully invested in the conversation and it was exciting to hear her perspective on what happened in Mashpee in 1833. We helped each other realign our approach to documenting our research, making sure to center our Wampanoag audience, keeping everything accessible and easy to knit together. 

The front end design is coming together nicely, and when Estefany shared her latest updates, I think we all felt the project moving that much closer to being realized. 

Week 9 | More Than Surviving Group update

This week we’ve continued to fine tune and lock in key elements of the project. As we see aspects of design and tech locked in, we are shifting into the next phases of some of our work. We’ll see outreach and front end design become more prominent, while research continues, soon to shift into website copywriting. 

We are on track to finalize design, having a logo, palette, typography treatment and high fidelity mockups in place. Estefany pushed the entire system forward—implementing treatments arrived at independently and in collaboration with Majel and Elizabeth.

Next Step:
A few minor adjustments are being made in response to team feedback. Next week our social channels will start being updated with the new look, and the front end of our site can start to be coded with CSS tying back to the branding.


This past week Elizabeth and Majel continued capturing event and activist stories and entering them in the database. We currently have 4 activists entered, and 3 events. This part of the process has been slower going than anticipated, but it’s key that we pull in adequate resources, have a decent handle on the subject matter, and then take the time to offer it in a format and language that is easily accessible. Events have been evolving — as more moments reveal themselves during research. If possible we’ll continue to add more, time permitting, to help flesh out our map.

Next Step:
Our focus will be on entering more events—ideally with 2-3 more entered within the next week. 

Zelda has set up the foundations for our front end and walked the team through the files. At the moment, tech is contingent on the finalization of design and the continued development of research/data points. 

Next Step:
With design wrapping up, we hope to shift into skinning the front end of the pages in preparation for the database being plugged in. We’ll continue to refine and troubleshoot layouts to account for the nature of the data as much as we can, but recognize there’s a cut-off. 

Now that we have more research and write ups in place, we’ve started discussing pulling in expert eyes. This includes revisiting possible connections with professors we’ve identified with expertise in our subject area.  

Next Step:
With design wrapping up and the nature of our research/content becoming clearer, Estefany will be able to shift into developing detailed content calendars and getting our social channels looking in line with our project. 



Week 9 — MTS

This week has all about fine tuning and information gathering. Putting my head down and diving into the research, I was able to get more entries prepped and into the database. I’ve discovered that, although it makes sense to write up our activists first, this can lead to the unearthing of a number of new events to consider. Given the time we have, I am doing my best to track these events without feeling the need to account for them in this first expression of this project. 

Although I am aware of quite a bit of Mashpee history, a lot of the history I am learning that originates in other Wampanoag communities  is very much new to me. It’s been interesting getting a bird’s-eye view of how the communities interacted— that Wampanoags as far as the Pocasset in Fall River moved to Martha’s Vineyard and joined Aquinnah and Chappaquidick families, for example. I had always known of the Aquinnah and Mashpee connection, my own family has ancestors from both.  I’ve also learned so much about the interaction of  outsiders, including the Massachusetts anti-slavery community out of Boston,  with the Wampanoag. I’ve added that entire topic to the “for later” list…which has admittedly gotten a bit long. 

Elizabeth took on the research and write-up of one of the key events for our database. I intentionally stepped away from that event, The Mashpee “Revolt”, because I had some awareness of the events—although I’ve learned so much more working on this project. I also met with Estefany to collaborate on the visual identity which we are aiming to lock in this week. Again, coming from a design background, I intentionally stepped away from fully owning that process in an effort to push outside of my comfort zone, and to  practice true collaboration. In the end, this project is impacting me on multiple levels—giving me new historical perspective, helping me better understand the development of a DH project, and helping me stretch my wings into new areas of expertise. I expect to be reaping the benefits of this process for a long time to come. 


The project has a number of moving parts — with a custom database being developed that will support a timeline, map and front end experience, there’s a lot to come together for the project to be public ready. The early stages of the project have been devoted to solidifying frameworks and processes to bring them to life, and at week 8 we have truly put our project plan in motion. Being able to learn from each other and engage with each person’s expertise (!) and curiosity has been a tremendously engaging and educational experience.  

Estefany is refining our project’s visual identity, pulling cultural references into the final expression. This includes drawing inspiration from the meaning of Wampanoag—People of the First Light. Generally referring to the Wampanoag’s location on the East coast where the sun first breaks on Turtle Island, Estefany has also drawn a message of hope and forward thinking, portrayed in a sunrise icon. She is also fine tuning the color palette and font hierarchy that will give our front end expression its unique character. Our intention is to be confident and rooted in positivity and hope. The purple central to her work is being tweaked to move it even closer to the shades that emerge in Wampum, a type of shell with ceremonial significance that was used as currency, adornment, and to capture and record treaties and emotional and spiritual intentions.

Next Steps:
Our intention is to have an agreed upon identity within the next week so we can begin putting it into action across social and to inform the front end design of the website. 


This past week Elizabeth and Majel further ironed out the process for gathering research and transferring it into the database structure. In examining the various types of events and activists that will need to be accounted for, it became apparent that not all of the data could be treated the same in the research process. Decisions about how to group information for the fullest comprehension were taken with our primary audience in mind. It is very important that our visitors can feel the interconnectivity of the narratives that intersect on local, state, and national levels and that the context from which activism emerged is at the forefront. 

This week we’ve created a finite list of activists and selected a representational sampling of  their activities which we can account for in our database. A step-by-step process has been templated in ClickUp, enabling us to distribute the work beyond a single teammate. 

Next Steps
With the process in place we can now build on the existing work and start turning out bios and event write ups to populate the database. This is to be completed by the end of March.  



Elizabeth and Zelda have been very busy determining the appropriate platforms, software and framework for our interactive project features: the timeline and the map. Elizabeth, having built out wireframes to demonstrate the functionality of TimelineJS, shared the back end requirements with Zelda. Zelda has now taken these requirements and that of the database environment they are building and written the code that will integrate our local google sheets and the formal hosted database that will eventually sit behind our website. They have walked us through their decisions, and, with new information from the research side, have made adjustments to help properly reflect the stories we are telling. Key decision making on Zelda’s part was to give the local database (where researchers input data), the liaising code and commands with the formal database (housed in google collab), and the formal hosted database (to be developed once the local work is complete) each its own home to ensure there is distinction and clarity of use for future project participants. 

Next Steps
Zelda will be building out the framework for the front end of the site—setting up pages and architecture in preparation for the full build when the visual identity is finalized.  Once research is complete and input into the database we will begin testing the interactive features in earnest.


With a work plan in place and a growing outreach list, Estefany is well situated to kick things off once we have our social channels and eventually the site up and running.

Next Steps
Estefany is meeting with her counterpart Maria from another team to exchange ideas and potential network connections. She’s also started to consider events and a social calendar, but this is secondary to completing the visual design which has a direct impact on our outreach efforts. 


Still on the docket is website copy, social media calendar and asset creation, and outreach. These items will kick off in earnest once the items above have been either completed or in a well developed state. By the end of the month it is our intention that our front end will start to take shape in earnest, and our focus will shift to content creation, outreach, and fine tuning tech as needed.  

 Week 8 | More Than Surviving

This week has been interesting—ups and downs and all arounds. I was able to dig into the research more and started to uncover some idiosyncrasies in the types of events that can be captured. Some of the petitions signed by Wampanoag activists, for example, were part of larger campaigns that spanned the state and sometimes country (Ex. Against the annexation of Florida and Texas). In these instances more than one Wampanoag community may have participated and so that needed to be reflected on the map. That has implications for the structure of the database, data entry, and formatting. We were able to diagram out a few scenarios and determined potential solutions to help streamline the research, notations, and data structure. It’s been interesting watching the shape of things evolve and needing to make adjustments as we go along—learning is fully activated.

On the “up” side I was able to uncover evidence of Wampanoag ancestry of an important historic figure who I had strongly suspected of being of our community. After hunting through genealogy archives, petitions, and various New England historic society documents I had a major breakthrough. I am now 99% sure that Mary J. “Polly” Johnson, a prominent member of New Bedford society, active member in the anti-slavery movement, participant in the Underground Railroad and host to Frederick Douglass when he first arrived to freedom is in fact Wampanoag likely on both sides of her parentage. Due to various spellings of her parents names (Isaac vs. Isaiah Anna vs. Hannah) her connection to her parents and siblings is somewhat obscured in the records. Her brothers went on to marry into the Wampanoag community in Aquinnah (Martha’s Vineyard) and one even went into business with another prominent Wampanoag family (the Cuffes). So that just knocked my socks off…and made me incredibly angry. I, again, had to face just how pervasive the erasure of our presence has been and see so much work laid out before me to contribute to our reinstatement in public history.

It only reinforces the importance of this work, and I continue to be incredible thankful for the resourceful brilliant team helping to get this project off the ground.

Week 7 — More Than Surviving

We’re trucking along with lots of great things in the works. Each teammate has been able to make impressive progress on the various moving parts. Elizabeth nailed down our timeline tech and shared various lay-outs with us, with one very closely mirroring the original wireframes right out of the box. Some extra styling once the visual identity is nailed down and it will tie in nicely with the rest of the site. Estefany has started the visual approach was also able to give our outreach plan shape and start building out what has become a really robust contact list.

We have a database structure thanks to Zelda. They walked us through the basics of database vocabulary and functionality and gave great pointers on naming systems to ensure everything is unique and easy to read. This was especially useful to me as I get familiar with the process of transferring my research into something that speaks to the work that everyone else is doing. 

I’ve been focusing on ramping up the research process using the templates I created to guide with our first activist, Absalom Boston of Nantucket, and his participation in the desegregation of Nantucket schools and ensuring equal access to education of all children in Massachusetts. The more I dug in the sources the more I came across leads on other activists and events. It’s a struggle at times to stay on task and not chase down the new information, but I’m doing my best to just note those paths for future reference and stay on task. I realize, more than ever, that this site will be “alive” with edits rolling in as the net gets cast wider and awareness of the texture of that era emerges even more. I  am feeling good that  the data for our first two entries is captured, and, along with the team’s incredible work, it’s clear we are well on our way to bringing MTS to life.

More Than Surviving — Week 6

This week has been very fruitful. We’ve been settling more framework questions, but also starting to move into the actual gathering, and creating that will get us to the final expression of the project.

Ramona Peters joined our last team meeting. Ramona, who has graciously agreed to collaborate with us on the project, is a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member who served as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and now focuses on the work of the Native Land Conservancy, an organization she founded 10 years ago focused on putting as much Wampanoag land in trust. Ramona is considered a Firekeeper—a keeper of traditions within the tribe and also has extensive experience managing the complicated relationship between scholarship, institutional frameworks, and Indigenous world views. Her initial feedback on our project framework and wireframes included an important reminder that our language must be as accessible as possible to truly make the project successful. Overall, her encouragement and excitement about the work served as an important reminder that this project will be of longer term use and service. 

For my part, I worked to fine tune some aspects of the project flow in Click Up that the team created together, created templates to guide research capture, wrote a budget to account for the $200 available via CUNY, gathered design inspiration to inform Estefany’s work on the visual identity, and started researching our activists. While visiting the National Park Service’s outpost in New Bedford on Sunday, I, by chance, encountered a mention of Mary J. “Polly” Johnson’s heritage as mixed Native and Black. Based on her place of birth and maiden name I feel confident she is Wampanoag, but will need to do a little digging to verify this. Besides being well respected abolitionists and confectioners (!), she and her husband hosted Frederick Douglas when he first captured his freedom. This discovery amplified my excitement about what else may be brought into the light through the work we are doing.  

Regarding data management, I am thankful for Zelda’s expertise and longview. Their design has captured some of the key questions we have: who has access, how do we ensure perpetual availability and usability of the data, and what tools in particular are needed to make that happen. Data management conversations are the most likely to remind you of the precarious legs that DH projects can stand on, and to be honest, I have been considering in what ways to bring these stories, this data, into the real world to make it perhaps more accessible for some but also tied to a lived experience.