Pacific Rim – Inherited Learning

A selection of primary sources collected by students in 2017.

Digital Archives, Built by Students, For Students

Leaving learning resources richer than when we found them.

About this Project

PacificRimStarting from scratch in October 2017, University of Hertfordshire students enrolled in the ‘American Pacific Rim: Colonisation, Conflict, and Connections, 1800-Present’ module were challenged with building a virtual digital archive of historical sources, replete with context and metadata. Each student was asked to search public resources to find and contribute ten digital items to the collection, with the archive growing to more than 300 images, objects, maps, and texts in its first year. Each item is connected to the 19th and 20th century histories of Hawai’i, British Columbia, and California. Though all of these items had already been digitised, this project brings them together into an ‘invented archive’ where they can be recombined into histories that provide new interpretations of the experiences of long marginalised and excluded Indigenous voices.

Module Aims

North America’s Pacific Rim is the site of key developments in global economics, race relations, and geopolitics. Within this vast region, Hawai‘i, California, and British Columbia are linked by much more than the Pacific Ocean: This module examines the “Pacific Theatre” of American settlement and expansion within the context of the rapid and profound social and political changes that transformed the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, Alta California, and the Pacific Northwest into the American states and Canadian province we recognise today. We will trace key developments and connections from the early 19th century to the present day, with particular attention to: the histories and perspectives of Indigenous peoples; missionaries and mission settlements; the power of gold; political annexation and manifest destiny; the militarisation of the Pacific during World War II; East Asian migration and exclusion; social movements and social change; and the development of new and distinct regional cultures.

Project Aims

  • Become aware of digital archives holding visual primary sources related to the groups you are studying.
  • Learn about metadata standards for describing visual primary sources
  • Learn to build contextual information about a primary source for an educated nonspecialist reader
  • Learn to integrate primary sources in your research essays.

Project Outputs

  • Omeka Logo The American Pacific Rim: Colonisation, Conflict and Connections, 1800-Present (2017-Present), This Omeka archive provides a simple browseable digital archive of primary sources related to the three regions (Hawai’i, British Columbia, and California). Each item is accompanied by contextual information provided by the students.
  • Adam Crymble & Sammy Sturgess, ‘Bringing Indigenous & Minority Immigrant Histories to the Curriculum’, University of Hertfordshire Learning & Teaching Conference (June 2018).
  • Ian Chowcat, ‘University of Hertfordshire, Inherited Learning: Digital Archives Built by Students for Students’ JISC, (2018).

Software and Primary Sources

This project uses Omeka to host all primary sources and metadata.

Student Contributors

The following students made ten contributions to the archive, and provided research context for each:


  • Ameerah Abood
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Samuel Armitage
  • Emma Azid
  • Roberto Catarinicchia
  • Sebastian Cook
  • David Cooke
  • Ellen Daly
  • Georgia Day
  • Sotira Eren
  • Leah Guy
  • Fay Hare
  • Freya Harper
  • Sebastian Jones
  • Lucy Kenealy
  • Catherine Kennedy
  • Melvin Kwan
  • Salma Latifi
  • Jake Marshall
  • Hannah Mehmet
  • Alisha Mehta
  • Margaret Minchin
  • Tejal Mistry
  • Hannah Oliver
  • Lauren-Ann Saunders
  • Robert Saunders
  • Siobhan Simmons
  • Sarah Smith
  • Alfie Staples
  • Stephane Ternier
  • Gabriella Thurbin
  • Michael Wilsher
  • Hannah Wiseman

Project Team

Please direct any correspondence, including takedown requests, to Emma Battell Lowman (

Emma Battell Lowman
Dr Emma Battell Lowman
The American Pacific Rim Project Director
Lecturer, History
University of Hertfordshire
Sammy Sturgess
Ms Sammy Sturgess
Teaching & Learning Assistant
University of Hertfordshire