The goal of this project was to create a digital timeline to showcase the connections among a range of social groups as they were experiencing the complex upheavals of the eight-month period from February to October 1917, the period commonly known as the Russian Revolution.
The project came out of a realization that students were writing first-rate papers based on the new collections of primary sources that scholars have been unearthing and carefully translating for publication. It was also inspired by an awareness of the tremendous capabilities of the Web as a place to synthesize and display information in ways that showcase interconnectedness amoung sources.
The timeline arranges materials across time (by linking documents and analyses to particular dates) and across social categories (by highlighting the experiences of activists, soldiers, workers, and peasants). Both the x and y axes, as we would say at MIT, are fundamentally arbitrary. No event in history occurs on a single date. And the social categories were thoroughly interconnected in this moment (most soldiers were peasants; many activists were workers or soldiers or peasants, and so on). Therefore, it is our plan that by posting three kinds of sources (primary sources from the time, scholarly articles, and analyses written by students at MIT), we create an engaging visual representation that will stimulate reflection and provide opportunities for deeper understanding of this critical period in history.
Now in it's fourth year of production with annual contributions from each student cohort, the timeline represents a rich and evolving view of the revolution. Each ensuing year focuses on a specific aspect of the timeline, either adding detail to canonically undisputed events, or reaching into individual experiences and relating those personal documents to the greater issues of the day.