Unit 2: Video Essay


“You can’t possibly know where you are or where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

-Ken Burns

For our second unit, you will take on the role of a Public History student who has been tasked with surveying, researching, and analyzing one specific building at UNC Chapel Hill. The end product is a compelling video essay that will inform and enlighten the greater university community about the buildings they spend so much time in. Much like the outstanding films of Ken Burns, your 3-5-minute video will incorporate images (photographs, maps) and narration (words), but will not need to include shot video (unless you would like to).

Genre Purpose Audience Writer’s Role Rhetorical Situation
Historical Video Essay Inform audience about the buildings on campus.


University Community Public History Student You are a Public History student who has been tasked with creating a short film about a particular building on campus.



Feeder 1- Designing a Survey 


The film is most effective if it incorporates information about how these buildings are understood and used currently. In order to accomplish this, you will first design and conduct a survey about your building. Surveys are one of the most common types of quantitative research done in the social sciences and can provide an interesting problematic to the historical record of the building. For this feeder, you will design a set of five questions based on your building that will be used in a survey given to your peers. The only thing you will need to produce for this feeder will be the five (5) questions. While this might seem easy to generate a few questions, designing surveys is at the heart of social science and is often much harder to execute than it seems. In order to help you, we will take a deep dive into how social scientists design questions in class.

After you have designed your questions, we will use Qualtrics (http://qualtrics.unc.edu) to deploy the surveys to your peers.

You will need to do a little background research on your building. The following resources will assist you:

Online Resource for Buildings: http://search.lib.unc.edu/search?R=UNCb2600791

UNC’s First Century: http://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/

Battle’sHistory http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/battle1/menu.html http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/battle2/menu.html

LibGuide: http://guides.lib.unc.edu/campus-monuments/home

Carolina Story: https://museum.unc.edu/


Feeder 2-  Building Narrative 


The driving force of the video will be the narrative of the building which should be an engaging, illustrated interpretive article (about 500 words) about the history of your main building. This should open with an interesting “hook” to draw people in, have a discernable thesis statement or overarching point, and present a concise, contextualized, compelling narrative about your building.

Major points you should touch on:

  • What’s the building’s interesting historical “story”?
  • Be sure to include basic information about your building (when built and why, original purpose, location, original use, present use, anything notable about design, architecture, construction).
  • What is/are the general historical context(s) we need to know about to understand your building and/or its namesake?
  • Discuss change over time. Utilize the findings from your surveys.
  • What can be said about controversies or conflicts or major decision points over/around/related to this building?

Note: If you use any primary or secondary sources they must be cited and you must include a references section (this will not be included in your 500 words).


Final Project- Video Essay 

This is where all the work you have done in the feeders comes together. Now it is your turn to become the filmmaker. You will want to think about how the images will work with your narrative and if you want to include any text (words) in your movie. We will be using Adobe Premier to create our video, a quick tutorial can be found here (http://guides.lib.unc.edu/mrc/adobepremiere). We will have Greg from the Undergraduate Library to show us how to use this software.

First, you will record your narrative which will serve as your base of the video. Practice makes perfect, so think about how you want your voice to sound and do a few trial runs. One option to record your voice is the Media Resources Center (https://library.unc.edu/house/mrc/) , which will provide you the tools to create a professional quality recording. You can also use your own microphone or phone if you would like.

Second, you will create a visual component by choosing specific images of your building and forming a video from these images. You may also choose to place text over or between your images. The end result will be a 4-5 minute video that you will upload to Sakai dropbox.


http://docsouth.unc.edu/ and for those looking at the buildings built during the first century: http://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/. There are also scanned and transcribed books all throughout the site that would be useful. Specifically of Battle’sHistory of the University of North Carolina

NC Postcards http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/nc_post and digitized photographs from the NCC


Collections with photographs of UNChttp://library.unc.edu/wilson/photos/collections-with-photographs-of-the-university-of-north-carolina-at-chapel-hill/ – not only buildings, but also people! You will also find these in the gateway to digitized material linked above, but not all is digitized…if you want something that isn’t digitized, please email Sarah!

Digital Heritage Center http://www.digitalnc.org/ and this is where we have yearbooks digitized with links here http://www.digitalnc.org/blog/unc-chapel-hill-yearbooks-through-1966-now-available-online/
The full text searching appears to be “off,” unfortunately, so you can also go to the Internet Archive where they are also scanned https://archive.org/

The Black and Blue Tour makes some stops at buildings http://blackandblue.web.unc.edu/

Newspapers.com has the DTH digitized through about 1997 – they search for Newspapers.com through the library catalog. 2005- present is on the actual DTH website. DTH headline archive http://library.unc.edu/dth/

University history – https://museum.unc.edu/ you could potentially find a number of photographs here.

Alumni Review – this is a great resource! https://alumni.unc.edu/news-publications/carolina-alumni-review-back-issues/. Sarah’s “hack” is to scroll down and click on an older one to get to the search feature, because only the most recent aren’t available to download. You click the arrow next to search and use the advanced function to search all issues for phrases, keywords, etc. Sometimes it’s a little clunky – if it doesn’t work, try it again.