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Anza Portrait (Orsi, 1774)
Juan Bautista de Anza, drawn from portrait in oil by Fray Orsi in 1774.


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History of the Web de Anza Project

Web de Anza was conceived and created by faculty and staff in the University of Oregon’s Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) in the College of Education. The design, construction, and evaluation of Web de Anza was a collaborative effort that began in the Spring of 1997, with the goal of constructing and researching a model "web-based study environment" about Juan Bautista Anza and his two 18th century expeditions from northern Sonora to “Alta California”. The goal was to provide students and researchers of all ages with a rich collection of primary source documents and supportive materials, making the website appropriate for sustained study and the teaching historical inquiry in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.

Key members of the original design and development team are listed below. Particularly noteworthy are the contributions of the late Don Garaté, former Chief of Interpretation at Tumacacori National Historical Park. Don invested huge amounts of unreimbursed time, energy, and intellectual capital to help make Web de Anza what it is today, and his contributions appear throughout the website. In addition, Don provided the website with its name – “Web de Anza”. We are also deeply indebted to Dr. Michael Weber, independent scholar and former director of the Arizona Historical Society, whose expertise in Spanish Colonial history and New Spain’s “Northern Borderlands” were of enormous assistance in providing historical, religious, and social context to the materials digitized and made accessible to the public through Web de Anza’s searchable database. Equally important was the support and involvement of the National Park Service and Meredith Kaplan, first Superintendent of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (designated by Congress as a National Historic Trail in 1990).

Director:
Lynne Anderson-Inman, Ph.D.
Project Coordinator:
Mark Horney, Ph.D.
Web Developer:
Judith Blair
Content Coordinator:
Phil Kessinger

Initial funding for the Web de Anza Project was provided by a seed grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to design and program the model “web-based study environment” focusing on Juan Bautista de Anza and his two 18th century expeditions from northern Sonora to “Alta California”. In Spring of 1998 the National Park Service's Challenge Cost Share Program awarded the Web de Anza Project funds to digitize the English and Spanish versions of eight expedition diaries. These funds were matched by in-kind support from the University of Oregon. Later the same year, the U.S. Department of Education's Consortium for Education program awarded the Web de Anza Project funds to support field-based implementation at ten schools in Arizona, California, Mexico, and Oregon. Teachers at participating schools created lessons for using Web de Anza in their classrooms and added student-constructed historical inquiry projects to the website. In 1999, the UO’s Center for Advanced Technology in Education received additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the purposes of expanding the number and type of multimedia materials available at Web de Anza, leading to the creation of interactive maps showing the 1775-1776 colonizing expedition trail and campsites, layered with both historical and modern features. The NEH also funded additional implementation and research with a new group of schools. Subsequent additions to website included three diaries of the Portolá expedition to southern California through Baja California (1769-1770) and Anza diary of his Campaign against the Comanche war chief, Cuerno Verde (translated as Greenhorn) in 1779 when Anza was governor of New Mexico.

The original Web de Anza development team had pioneered state of the art techniques for delivering database driven web pages – an innovation at the time of its construction. And the website ran on the best commercial database and server software systems available for the Apple Macintosh in 1999. Unfortunately, after more than a decade of service the system was in danger of systemic failure - the website’s obsolete software and underlying hardware had reached the end of its functional life. Under the direction of Trail Superintendent Naomi Torres, the National Park Service’s Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail awarded funds to improve the system’s function and longevity, and to expand and enrich the website’s content. Known as the Web de Anza Upgrade and Update Project, the funds were administered as a cooperative agreement by the Anza Trail Foundation (2012-2014). The goal was to develop plans for (a) redesigning the website’s information architecture, (b) adopting a new open-source database platform, and (c) redesigning the website’s user interface. In addition to developing plans for redesigning the website, the NPS award enabled the Web de Anza development team to gather input from a wide swath of the Anza community about desired new content for Web de Anza. This involved email surveys, as well as multiple group meetings with Anza scholars, descendants, and trail enthusiasts in Arizona and California, organized by the Anza Trail Foundation, the International Anza Society, and the Anza Trail Coalition. A synthesis of the feedback obtained through these endeavors led to the design of a three-phase project focused on expanding what is known about the 1776 Anza colonists – men, women, and children and making this information available to the public via Web de Anza.

Known as the Anza Colonists Project, this initiative was officially adopted by the Anza Trail Foundation as part of its mission to “raise visibility and promote knowledge of the epic eighteenth century expeditions of Juan Bautista de Anza.” Funding for Phase 1 of the Anza Colonists Project was provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) through a cooperative agreement with the Anza Trail Foundation (2015-2016). The goal of Phase 1 was to develop a “proof of concept” portal website that provides curated access to three types of online resources: (a) online databases of primary source documents and other archival materials; (b) online repositories of relevant images and other graphic material; and (c) secondary source digital texts in the public domain such as Google Books and ebooks on the Internet Archive. The overall vision for the portal site is that students, scholars, and descendants could research members of the 1776 Anza Colonizing Expedition and their families by gathering and organizing data and images from the diverse databases, texts, and other resources linked to the Anza Colonists Project website. To facilitate this process, short online video tutorials were developed and tested with middle school students. The plan is to incorporate these materials into the main Web de Anza website following its conversion to a content-management system in the Spring of 2021.

The most recent phase of the Web de Anza Project has been funded by two National Trail System (NTS) Internship awards. Administered by the Anza Trail Foundation, the projects are designed to complete the process of upgrading and updating Web de Anza. Under the direction of Dr. Lynne Anderson, goals of the first award (2020) were to: (a) migrate the Web de Anza databases and navigational links out of their archaic and unsupported software into a 21st century database system and (b) design a content-management system to house the now technically upgraded Web de Anza. Toward this end, Dr. Len Hatfield, the project’s volunteer database programmer, and Aaron Otterstetter, the project’s web design Intern, have jointly created an intermediate site for Web de Anza. This site is functionally robust as it no longer relies on out-of-date software, and many of its webpages (including all the original diaries in English and Spanish) have been redesigned to be compatible with 21st century expectations for a database driven website.

Under the joint direction of Dr. Anderson and Dr. Carlos Herrera, goals for the second NTS Intern award (2021) are to: (a) complete the process of designing a content-management system for Web de Anza; (b) move all existing Web de Anza content and navigational links into the newly designed content-management system so that it can be migrated to its new home in the Borderlands Institute at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley; (c) enhance and enrich the newly migrated Web de Anza with new content; and (d) explore ways to use social media to promote Web de Anza to new audiences, while also increasing interest in the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. A second NTS Intern will be hired to work as a public historian on this project with emphasis on collaborating with representatives of Native American peoples involved in and impacted by Anza’s 18th century expeditions, with a vision of identifying new content for Web de Anza and new ways of interpreting existing content.



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