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Web Design & Development

The Great Migration: A City Transformed

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The Great Migration Project explores the historic tide of African Americans who moved North to Philadelphia in the early 1900s. Scribe Video Center needed a website to showcase their commissioned media arts works, and to provide context and history for the project. We collaborated with their team to develop a custom Drupal site optimized for storytelling through rich media.


Scribe brought together a wealth of resources related to the Great Migration, both from primary source collections and created as part of the project. Knowing that each media arts work would be linked to a location, an artist, and a variety of supporting media, we built the site with the ability to add flexible types of content throughout.

We integrated videos from Vimeo, built an audio player connected to a map, and created connections to resources from external sites, designing each page to feature this rich content in way that told the full story of each part of the overall project. Visitors can watch artist statement videos and behind-the-scenes footage, listen to oral histories shown at specific geographic locations, and view albums of archival photographs.

Philadelphia the Great Migration Website Screen Shot


The history of the Great Migration is closely tied to place, and many of the featured works were site-inspired, so visualizing place and movement was key to understanding the story. We used Mapbox.js with custom map tiles to match the look and feel of the site, plotting points for featured oral histories and other audio clips, and detailing distances traveled. For instance, as part of Kevin Everson’s Eason, visitors can see that James Walker Hood Eason, leader of Universal Negro Improvement Association of Philadelphia, journeyed over 400 miles from Salisbury, North Carolina.


We built the site on Drupal 8 to provide an optimal experience for those managing the site and for visitors. Drupal 8’s new breakpoint system shows users appropriately sized images based on their screen size, which allows for faster loading on mobile devices—especially important for Great Migration audiences, who might be looking for information on the go, at a project installation or event. And keeping the site up-to-date is easy for the Scribe team, with Drupal 8’s built-in WYSIWYG editors, improved user roles and permissions, and quick editing capabilities. We also created detailed administrative documentation and conducted an on-site training, which we recorded to help bring future project staff up-to-speed.