Position Description:

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), University of Maryland’s digital humanities institute, is seeking a Graduate Research Assistant for a pair of interconnected NEH grant-funded initiatives: Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection and Broadcasting A/V Data. The GA will work with the project’s Principal Investigators and the rest of the project team to identify opportunities to increase discoverability for both the audio and paper collections of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB), as well as three complementary broadcasting collections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota. This position is a Step I Full (50% FTE) 12-month Assistantship, with a yearly stipend of $23,973 which includes tuition remission. Start dates for this position are flexible and can be adjusted based on applicant availability.

Project Goals/Duties:

The first and shorter phase of this position (roughly six weeks) will involve working with the project team on the final phases of Unlocking the Airwaves, an NEH-funded virtual reunification project which connects two disparate, linked collections related to the same early educational (public) radio collections of the NAEB. Detailed background and information about the project can be found here, including methods and data standards: https://ter.ps/unlocking.

With the project team, the GA will help identify key areas of focus in terms of broadly defined descriptive terms and concepts (subjects, people, organizations, geographic regions, and time periods), paying close attention to linkages between people, organizations, and subjects in the identified key areas of focus. Using this initial analysis, we’ll work as a team to create a set of visualizations, such as (but not limited to) timelines, interactive maps, network graphs, or story maps. These will be aimed at educators who want to use the NAEB’s collections as part of their curriculum. This will also involve identifying key pedagogical approaches to using historical collections in the classroom.

The second and primary phase of the position will be tied directly to work on the newly awarded Digital Humanities Advancement Grant initiative, Broadcasting A/V Data, which follows directly from MITH’s work on Unlocking the Airwaves and involves the same project team.

Broadcasting A/V Data is more centrally focused on archival authorities (People and Organizations) and linked data. As part of our final work on Unlocking the Airwaves, we aim to have an identified set of authorities which are central to the NAEB collections accessible via our web application. In this project, we will extend that work to publish these authorities on the web in a way that can enhance and link to other complementary collections containing the same or similar authorities.

We see the scope of project activities as falling into four phases: 1) Data Collection and Organization; 2) Data Reconciliation; 3) Data Enhancement; and 4) Data Publication. The workflows will build on what the team has learned during Unlocking the Airwaves, specifically our experience of using Airtable as a centralized Knowledge Base, and the use of OpenRefine for the reconciliation and enhancement of authorities using Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) API, as well as Wikidata. New innovations will include extending these learned processes to include new or expanded workflows, including incorporating additional harvested collections data; disambiguation; syncing data between SNAC and Wikidata; and augmenting them with new open source technologies.

The Graduate Assistant will:

  • Assist with testing and configuring software and workflows for managing collected authority data in a Knowledge Base, which will store information from four separate collections;
  • perform data transformations;
  • create the encoded archival authority records;
  • perform linked data enhancement and reconciliations, and
  • develop and document workflows to ensure data integrity.

While this position is primarily operational, all MITH staff cultivate and maintain a plan of research integrating some aspect of digital humanities or digital studies and contribute to the intellectual life of the institute. This position includes optional support and mentoring from MITH staff for the successful candidate to develop or expand a focus on the digital within her/his current field or research agenda. The GA will also be encouraged to work with the team to write about their progress, insights, and findings on the project on the MITH blog.


Minimum Qualifications. This position is open to current graduate students at the University of Maryland. Candidates must be highly organized and deadline oriented. We are seeking interdisciplinary thinkers, who are self- motivated and -directed and extremely comfortable with project management. Excellent communication skills are crucial to the success of this position.

Additional Qualifications. This position is ideal for a first or second year graduate student, with special consideration for students with a specialization or dedicated scholarly interest in information studies, human computer interaction, data curation, digital studies, digital humanities, or audiovisual archiving and preservation.

Specific experience and qualifications which will be extremely helpful to highlight in your application include:

  • Experience using Airtable and OpenRefine;
  • Experience with open source software development;
  • Familiarity with metadata standards, schemas, and documentation;
  • Experience with JSON and XML data transformations, particularly with the Python or Javascript programming languages;
  • Familiarity with linked open data concepts;
  • Familiarity with the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) initiative or Wikidata;
  • Experience or familiarity with using digital collections as part of teaching or research;
  • Familiarity with instructional design technologies and data visualization tools used in digital humanities projects such as Zotero, Timeline JS, NeatLine.

About MITH:

MITH is an interdisciplinary group of researchers who collaboratively advance the study of cultural heritage and arts using computational technologies while also training the insights and approaches of the humanities on the computational technologies that shape our world.

As a center within the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park, MITH has served as a world-class concentration of expertise for more than 20 years. We also teach courses and host events for campus and public communities in support of our core research mission. You can learn more about MITH’s approach to collaboration, inclusivity, and learning by reading our Values Statement.

To Apply: Email cover letter, resume, and two references as a single PDF file to MITH Digital Humanities Archivist Stephanie Sapienza, at sapienza@umd.edu. Type “Application for A/V Data Curation GA - [Last Name]” in the subject line. All applicants will be notified their application was received. Selected applicants will be contacted for telephone and/or in-person interviews. Start and end dates and work days/hours are negotiable as candidates’ schedules require. For the foreseeable future, all work will be conducted virtually in line with public health and safety measures outlined by the university and the county/state.