The interactive digital history website, Proud and Torn: How My Family Survived Hungary,
(proudandtorn.com) is a unique and groundbreaking public history and digital humanities
project that will greatly advance our understanding of what it means to be Hungarian. The
animated, digital timeline is four years in the making and an ambitious historical narrative
adapted to the web. As an online documentary told from the first person (the daughter of an
Hungarian emigré now living in the U.S.), the work is setting new standards for what is possible
through historical texts in terms of visualization and the reinterpretation of history.
Proud and Torn brings a highly visual approach to digital storyteling: over 1,200 photographs,
maps, graphics (many of them animated), and looping film clips together create a rich tapestry
of visual storytelling controlled by the user on the scroll. The timeline stylistically combines the
genres of photomontage and graphic history and presents the content with parallax scrolling, a
special web coding technique that makes background images move slower than foreground
images, creating an illusion of depth and a more immersive visual experience.
Beyond being visually unique, Proud and Torn is unique in terms of narrative. The story
focuses on one Hungarian farming family and the members of their small rural
community while connecting this family’s history to Hungary’s historical narrative. As
such, this timeline tells a more intimate and personal story about the national and global
events that affect everyday people outside of the capital Budapest. It also pays special
attention to Hungarian women, who are largely invisible in most Hungarian historical
narratives. In the end, the project expands our idea of Hungary by placing a greater
emphasis on rural and agricultural history and using fresh visual sources from amateur
and underutilized archival collections.
Today we have online access to non-commercialized, easily searchable digitized photographic
collections (plus maps, illuminated manuscripts, prints, drawings, lithographs, etchings,
cartoons) in nearly every library and museum institution, from small town historical societies to
large federal archives. This digital revolution in archival media has opened up access to
previously “unknown” images and the possibility that these images could broaden and
transform our collective memory. The time has arrived for scholars and practitioners—visual
communication scholars, museum exhibit creators, historians, digital media artists, journalists,
and others dedicated to visualizing public memory—to plumb these archives and use the
material in profound ways. Archives make images accessible to everyone, but humanists need to
use the archives to tell stories. We can and should be finding ways to make digital archives come
to life through new media applications, and we should also dig deeper into these archival
offerings and begin visualizing complex public memories beyond the famous, the noteworthy,
and the most obvious.
Creative Team: Dr. Bettina Fabos, Associate Professor of Interactive Digital Studies (IDS) at theUniversity of Northern Iowa, with Dana Potter (design), Jacob Espenscheid & Collin Cahill (code), Isaac Campbell (animation), and two historians of Hungary, Dr.s Leslie Waters and Kristina Poznan.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;