Omeka: Finally Utilizing It For One Of My Own Research Projects

Omeka logoI have been working with Omeka — both the original self-hosted .org version and the newer hosted .net version — for about two and a half years. Mostly for teaching purposes, providing instruction to public history students and heritage professionals. But, until recently, I hadn’t gotten around to using it to actually publish one of my own research projects.

For almost seven years, I have been researching, on-again-off-again, the almost 1,000 Orange County men and women who have died in our nation’s wars since the county was formed in 1889.  I took an interest in this topic while working as a news research librarian at the Orange County Register, then dabbled periodically for the next handful of years compiling names and biographical details, while also trying to identify the right solution to publish my research online —  both custom “home grown” solutions and existing products.

From the first moment that I learned about and saw a demo of Omeka, I knew it would serve as an excellent web-based platform to share my research. But, since I am more familiar developing on WordPress, I kept waffling between Omeka and WordPress — even building out sample sites on each platform.  But, a few months ago, Omeka finally won.  I’ll blog later about my WordPress vs. Omeka trial, and why I chose Omeka.

Since it’s taking me a really long time to do the actual research outside of full-time work and family obligations — again, I’m trying to pull together biographical profiles of approximately 1,000 casualties — I opted to go with a free existing theme for now, Emiglio, instead of spending time designing my own theme from scratch. Fortunately, because I am self-hosting my Omeka project, I am able to tweak and customize Emiglio as much as I want, to start learning how to really work with Omeka themes and functions, so that I can eventually build my own themes.


I will share more in future blog posts about what plugins I am using, what functions and metadata elements I have been playing with, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, and what I would like to see in future Omeka releases.

For now, you can expect to see the look and feel of my Omeka project change pretty frequently. And, you can expect to see a bit more research make its way online each week!

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2 thoughts on “Omeka: Finally Utilizing It For One Of My Own Research Projects”

  1. Denise Levenick

    I am looking for an open-source collection management program to catalog several family history archives and am considering Omeka or CollectiveAccess. I was happy to find your posts on Omeka and would like to know if you have any experience with CA? Is Omeka still working for your project?

    1. Hi Denise,

      I have not tried CA. I do love Omeka. I’m migrating this particular project over to the free .net hosted version of Omeka because, sadly, I’ve decided to put a halt to the project (I just don’t have time for the research; my research interests have changed quite a bit the last few years), but I want to save my research — especially the metadata — in case any other local OC historians want to take take it on. But, I am still using Omeka for my other research projects.

      Please feel free to hit me up if you have more questions.

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