What kind of event is this?

An unconference is an informal, participant-led event that brings people together to exchange ideas about topics they find interesting. Unconferences are only lightly organized—we have provided a general schedule and framework for the day, but you (and your fellow attendees) will decide what you want to talk about and in which directions to take your conversations throughout the day. At the beginning of the event we will vote on proposed session topics, then will break out into groups to discuss the chosen topics.


What if I don’t have a specific session to propose?

That’s fine! At the beginning of the day, we will vote on session topics. There will be 10 to 15 sessions offered throughout the day, so even if you don’t have something particular you want to discuss when you arrive, you’re sure to find a few sessions to join. Check the Sessions page on this website for an up-to-date list of proposed topics.


Who will attend?

We anticipate participants from a wide range of backgrounds, including teachers, researchers, undergraduates, graduate students, professors, archivists, librarians, and IT specialists with an interest in digital history. If you have an interest in either early American history or digital history projects, you will certainly find other participants and sessions that interest you.


What will I get out of attending this event?

We hope that all participants will come away from this event feeling enthusiastic, excited, and intellectually stimulated by the thoughts and ideas that are shared among the group. The informal nature of the unconference format gives everyone an opportunity to discuss the topics that interest them most, without needing to prepare any formal presentations.

Because the discussions are chosen and led by participants themselves, you will have many opportunities to think about and discuss your own projects, as you see connections to what others are doing in various fields. By talking across disciplines and professional backgrounds, everyone should come away with new, exciting perspectives on their own projects and interests.

Finally, you will get to be an important voice in a discussion about how individuals and institutions will use new digital tools to explore the materials of the past. You will help your fellow participants think through the challenges and opportunities that come with large digital projects like the Colonial North America at Harvard Library project, and help set the terms of discussions going forward.


When is the event?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016. See the schedule for a detailed breakdown of the day.


Where is the unconference being held and how do I get there?

The event will be held at the Radcliffe Gym in the Knafel Center at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The Knafel Center is located in Radcliffe Yard near Harvard Square. The easiest way is to take the MBTA, Boston’s public transportation system. The Knafel Center is just a short walk from the Harvard Square train station on the Red Line. More than a dozen buses arrive at Harvard Square from many locations in and around Boston. Please check the MBTA website for schedules and maps.

If you are planning on driving, you may want to use your GPS to find your way to Radcliffe Yard. The street address for the Radcliffe Institute is 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. The exact coordinates for the Knafel Center are 42.376243, -71.122788. See below for parking options.


Is there parking available?

Parking in Harvard Square is difficult, but there are a few options. There are several commercial parking lots in or near Harvard Square. The Radcliffe Institute provides a list of the most convenient garages and lots near campus.

In addition to the many commercial lots, Harvard manages several parking lots near campus, many of which can be used by visitors, provided you first purchase a daily parking permit.

There is some on-street metered parking near Harvard, but it is often hard to find an open spot, and most spots have a two-hour time limit. See the City of Cambridge parking website for more information.


How do I register to attend?

If you’re interested in attending the event, please register by Tuesday, October 26, 2016 - space is limited. Click on the Register tab at the top of this page, or go directly to the registration form.


Do I have to stay for the whole event?

Of course we’d like you to stay, but no. While the event will work best if everyone sticks around to share ideas and work with others, we understand it is not possible for everyone to attend every session block. You should feel free to arrive and leave at times that work for you. Even if you can only come for one 50 minute session, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!


Do I need to bring anything?

Other than a positive attitude and willingness to converse with your fellow participants, you don’t need to bring anything to the event. Given the digital nature of the Colonial North America at Harvard Libraries project, we do suggest that you bring a laptop, tablet, or other device.

Food and refreshments will be provided throughout the day, and we will have plenty of paper, pencils, markers, and whiteboards for note-taking or brainstorming sessions. We will also provide extension cords, a projector, and wifi.


What happens if it snows?

Unless there is a university-wide closing, the event will be held as planned. If the university does close due to inclement weather, we will update all registered attendees via email and update this website. If the weather is looking bad and you’re concerned about the event being canceled, you may want to monitor the Harvard University Emergency page for any announcements about closings.


Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Feel free to get in touch with Ross Mulcare at the Harvard University Archives if you have any questions about the event. He can be reached at ross_mulcare@harvard.edu or 617-495-2461.