#DivBlk: Principles in Action During a Website Migration

8) Proofreading Exhibits with Hypothes.is

Semesters: Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

Committee: Co-chair Kelli Coles (PhD student), co-chair Michelle Byrnes (undergraduate), Lauren Cooper (librarian), Kaitlyn Tanis (librarian), Caleb Trotter (CCP alum), and Keith Jones (Library IT Systems Programmer) with Jim Casey (co-director) providing strategic input

By: Kaitlyn Tanis, History & Social Sciences Librarian, University of Delaware

In March 2019, I began a new position at the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press as the History and Social Sciences Librarian. I had heard of the Colored Conventions Project before I applied for the job at UD. My background and training in graduate school (in addition to my Master’s in Library and Information Science) is in Public History. I remember using CCP’s work in one of my courses, so when I began working at UD, I knew I wanted to be involved in the project in some way. Shortly after I started, I attended a CCP meeting where I was “welcomed home.” With my experience with digital projects and WordPress, I joined the Website Committee.

Hypothes.is allows users to make digital mark-ups and annotations.

During the migration of exhibits from Omeka to WordPress, the Website Committee noticed a need for proofreading, either from errors that were migrated or that were introduced. The idea of printing each exhibit page to mark corrections like you might an article or manuscript felt like a potential paper storm (and a massive environmental issue). The Website Committee needed a digital alternative: The team thought about using a Google doc that listed the page number and the corrections needed. But this felt like it could be labor intensive to describe exactly where the needed correction was (i.e. “paragraph 2, line 7” or “right column, 2nd line from the bottom”). Lauren remembered learning about the Hypothes.is tool to make digital mark-ups and annotations. Hypothes.is creates a kind of overlay on a webpage that allows users to make comments, share notes, and highlight passages. Lauren researched how the team might use Hypothes.is and ultimately, it seemed like a good option. Lauren mapped out the workflow, created Exhibit Tracking Sheets to ensure all pages would be proofread, and in Hypothes.is, created a private “group” for each exhibit so proofreading notes would not be publicly visible.

Proofreading Tracking


Figure 1 (above): Google spreadsheet with exhibits numbered to track proofreading, related Google doc URL, and related Hypothes.is Group URL.
Figure 2 (left): Google doc to track proofreading each page of the exhibit. We took this micro-detailed approach after months spent to track and add pages that did not get transferred from Omeka to WordPress. See Quality Assurance post.
Figure 3 (left): Hypothes.is admin panel. A group was created for each exhibit. Each group is numbered to match the Google tracking sheet.

In June of 2019, the Website Committee asked me to become an editor and help proofread the exhibits while also testing out the usability of Hypothes.is. With librarians working on the proofreading project, CCP thought this would be a good user group to see if Hypothes.is would serve our needs. I was assigned to help proofread all the exhibits that were being moved to the new WordPress website. I would ultimately spend an entire year, proofreading all 17 (and counting) exhibits, putting in countless hours in meetings and ultimately at home on my couch (with the company of my cat, Dusty, and the newest true crime documentary). The rest of this blog explains the process and website we used to proofread the exhibits.

I was partnered with Kelli Coles, Website Committee Co-chair and History PhD candidate, to collaborate on the proofreading process. I was assigned to proofread, and Kelli, already familiar with the exhibits, would review and implement changes via WordPress. When I signed up to edit an exhibit, I made sure to join the group link in Hypothes.is that would allow me to make private comments and annotations directly on the website using a plug-in that I installed into my web browser. From there, I went page by page through each exhibit, making edits, comments, and testing links. The process could be long depending on the length of the exhibit and the amount of content on the page; all resulting in hours spent correcting and checking each exhibit. Once I was done with an exhibit, I contacted Kelli to let her know I was finished. Kelli then went back into Hypothes.is to check my work and make the appropriate edits in WordPress. 

Using Hypothes.is was an extremely easy way to correct CCP’s exhibits without making our comments available to the public. The platform allowed Kelli and I to communicate frequently, ask questions for problems that arose, and helped to make the process smooth since Kelli and I largely did this work separately.

Figure 5: Example of Hypothes.is dashboard listing all the annotations.
Figure 6: Front-end of the Hypothes.is tool that shows exactly where annotations are made. 

As with any project, there were a few learning curves along the way. When I first started using Hypothes.is, Kelli noticed that my annotations were not showing up in the corresponding exhibit groups. I realized that each of my comments were landing on my public site in Hypothes.is instead of the correct exhibit page. Unfortunately, that mistake set me back on my timeline for completing the exhibits in a timely manner because I had to copy each of my comments into the appropriate section (it ended up being a lot of copying and pasting). Overall, working with Hypothes.is to proofread CCP’s exhibits was a straightforward process that worked well. It allowed Kelli and I to work together independently, which meant that the project did not change when we moved online due to COVID-19 in the spring.

Hypothes.is is a really easy tool to use for other digital projects, either for the purpose of commentary or editing web pages. The learning curve is quite small, so all types of users pick up the interface fairly quickly. Tech-savvy volunteers are not required, making this tool possible for any project. 

Spending the last year reading each and every exhibit created by CCP and its partners has been truly remarkable. It is incredible to see the time, research, and work that went into each exhibit to explain the significance of the Colored Conventions.

The Colored Conventions Project appreciates the support of:


The Colored Conventions Project was launched & cultivated at the University of Delaware from 2012-2020.