Pieces of Lakeland: Using Augmented Reality Technology to Share History

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Lakeland is a historically black neighborhood located in College Park, Maryland. Ravaged by a plan for ‘urban renewal’ in the end of the 20th century, many current residents are unaware of the neighborhood’s unique history. The Lakeland Community Heritage Project has been working for over a decade to gather and preserve documentation of the fascinating history of this neighborhood. Through their collaboration with the Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities, they’ve built a sizable collection - but few other than those who have built it have any idea that it exists. How do we mobilize a digital, community-built archive to be present and visible in the public realm? I focused on the technology of augmented reality applications, a unique way of placing the digital in the scope of the physical. By focusing on a few carefully selected physical sites within Lakeland, I built timelines from images and data relating specifically to those sites. These narratives were woven into three different miniature collections, unique to each site. Users are able to explore them in an augmented-reality guided tour that shows them a timeline of the site’s history, as well as information about Lakeland itself. This project is a fresh way to bring archival collections directly into the public sphere, offering a novel opportunity to explore local history. It builds upon the work of Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities and the Lakeland Community Heritage Project, offering a new way to share their data with the public.