Story Map

As an alumna of Oklahoma State University, I finally decided to do some research regarding OSU’s mascot, Pistol Pete. I always questioned the origins of our mascot and wondered WHY Pistol Pete was chosen to represent the early OAMC student body. In an effort to understand why Alumni of Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College chose Frank Eaton as their mascot, I created a Story Map which breaks down the life of Eaton. 


Prior to Pistol Pete becoming the mascot for OSU (Oklahoma State University/Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College), Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (OAMC) was deemed the Ivy League school of the Prairie, and with that, the young school had to declare their mascot–which originally was a jaguar. Although this mascot is “normal” (when one looks at mascots of other large universities), the student population of OAMC felt disconnected from their school and their mascot. Resulting from the immense disconnect felt throughout the student population, OAMC students commenced the search for a mascot that truly embodied the spirit of Oklahomans.

At the Armistice parade, a group of students saw Frank Eaton leading the parade and felt compelled to ask him to be the official model for the mascot. Frank  Eaton

Frank Eaton

himself ventured into the Oklahoma territory with his family for land and a better life. He lived the rough and tough prairie life, similarly to other Oklahomans, consequently, making Frank Eaton become Pistol Pete.

Story Map Review:

Prior to my digital humanities internship, I have never heard of Story Map; Story Map is an online platform which enables people to utilize map services (to create and use) and present the information in an orderly fashion. 

Overall, Story Map was relatively easy to use, however, I believe there are not enough options for users to truly embrace their creativity and complete their vision for the project. The instructions were EXTREMELY helpful, as I believe without the instructions designing a story map would have been incredibly difficult. However, I did not realize a good and successful story map would take such a long time. For my Pistol Pete Story Map, I spent weeks gathering pictures, conducting research, and planning the flow of information–but it was time well spent. Additionally, I have never experienced a site malfunction, which is comforting to those who are constantly creating new and exciting projects. Besides that, the Story Map platform if an effective way to spread information through the use of visualizations. 

More Story Maps: 

This story map was created by Stephanie Berson, the History Pin Intern with the Oklahoma State University Library. Stephanie is an outstanding history major, Wentz scholar, and Cowboys of Cambridge finalist. Through her time as the History Pin intern, Stephanie has created two Story Maps (both are linked below). I inquired with Stephanie her thoughts, experiences, and complaints were with Story Map and here are her responses:

What was your overall experience with Story Map? Overall, I have had a fairly positive experience with Story Map. I enjoy how easy it is to beautifully combine images and information. I have primarily utilized the “cascade” format, as that seems to work best for my uses. Using Story Map was a platform to display my research has inspired me to think about my research not just from an academic standpoint, but from the perspective of passersby. I have enjoyed crafting my narrative through the use of impactful images and text.

Did you find the instructions or provided examples helpful? I have found the “Gallery” very useful as a source of inspiration. Once creating a Story Map, the interface is fairly simple and easy to navigate. Although, I will admit that if I had not had outside instruction from the library’s Map Curator, I would have been a fish out of water. In other words, the software is fairly straightforward, but extra direction is needed to begin.

About how much time did you commit to creating the story map(s)? This is difficult to say because the actual time I spend creating the Story Map pales in comparison to all the other work that goes into the project. Including the time to takes to do the research, find images and watermark those images, write text and then design the Story Map in a pleasing way, it can take several weeks to create a great final product. For my first story map, it took about a month of me working ten hours a week on the project. For my second project, it was much easier, and took much less time, perhaps two weeks.

What characteristics of Story Map created roadblocks for you and your project? While I enjoy the many customization features, I wish I had a little bit more freedom. Within Cascade, text and images always appear on the center of the page. While this is easy and allows for a clean finished project, I wish I was able to customize where my images and texts appear. Admittedly, this feature may be available and I am not aware of it or it may be available through a different layout that is not Cascade.

Do you have any complaints with the overall program/software? In addition to the issue listed above, I wish there was a list to better cite information. As far as I am aware, there is no way to incorporate footnotes into the story. While there is a section at the bottom for sources, the lack of footnotes makes it difficult to properly cite my source. Of course, I could always utilize parenthetical citations, but that can break up the flow of the text. I think that if footnotes were apart of the software, more scholars and teachers may be inclined to use the software. 

What obstacles did you have to overcome through your Story Map process? Overall, I have had a pretty straightforward and easy experience with Story Map. There have not been any massive roadblocks. One time, the program crashed and I lost a good chunk of work due to not saving. 

How do you see Story Map being useful or helpful tool for students and/or teachers? Story Map would be an excellent tool for teachers, particularly those teaching online classes. I also see this as a great tool for scholars or researchers who want to incorporate more images and interactivity into the product of their research (although the above issue of lack of footnotes is definitely a roadblock). Story Map may be appropriate for some student projects, particularly those who are interested in utilizing digital humanities into their work. I don’t think the program is appropriate for the High School level because it does involve a lot of labor to create as well as a learning curve to overcome. Undergraduate and Graduate researchers who want to share their work in a friendly and more-digestible way will greatly benefit from working with Story Map.

Stephanie’s May Carnival celebration at OAMC

Stephanie’s second Story Map about Williams Hall