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Digital History and the Old Oaken Bucket

IU student project features a 3D representation of the Old Oaken Bucket created through photogrammetry and structured light scanning digitization methods.

Since 1925, the Old Oaken Bucket has been the symbol of a college football rivalry between the Hoosiers of Indiana University and the Boilermakers of Purdue University as it is passed back and forth between the two schools. Coming from a small farm in Southern Indiana, the bucket contains a 40-lb chain made up of letters “I”, “P”, and “IP”. A new bronze letter is added to the chain each year with the score, date and the city where the game was played engraved on the link.

 3D Oaken Bucket print

3D print of the Old Oaken Bucket edited, printed, and assembled by Jeff Rogers and Tyler Jackson of the Advanced Visualization Lab

During the Spring 2017 semester, the Bucket became the focus for IU student Gregory Simon’s Digital History course project. In collaboration with the Cyberinfrastructure for the Digital Humanities team and the Advanced Visualization Lab, Simon’s project features a 3D representation of the Old Oaken Bucket created through photogrammetry and structured light scanning digitization methods (along with some meticulous model editing thanks to AVL intern, Tyler Jackson).

3D Oaken Bucket - Tyler and Coach Deal

Tyler Jackson and Coach Deal

The Digital History course, taught by Kalani Craig, Department of History, explores the rich history of Indiana University—Bloomington with digital tools like text mining, network analysis, and makerspace technology. “The title of the course really says it all.” Dr. Craig explains. “The history part is about getting hands-on in a discipline that lets you dig deep into the past of a community you really care about, to see how the local people and movements that shaped IU's present are part of a bigger global past. That's where history's compatibility with digital tools--text mining, network analysis, and so on--can really make a difference for an undergraduate research project. Part of it is that we're learning practical skills and talking to audiences outside the classroom, but the more important thing is that we're looking critically at how these computational tools fit into our work as historians. We're using, but we're also being critical of, the digital tools that increasingly mediate our daily lives, and that means working with IU's past helps us figure out where we fit into IU's digital present." View the 3D model of Old Oaken Bucket and Simon’s accompanying explanation of the Bucket’s significance here.