Creating a Self-Guided Historic Tour of Princeton: Executive Summary

Introduction, Background, and Motivation

Throughout the world, history is highly regarded, carefully preserved, and studied. In order
to increase accessibility and interest in history, many organizations are supplementing or revamping
their existing tools for distributing historical information, which include, but are not limited to,
maps, self guided and guided tours, and signs. These efforts often involve the use of new technology
such as GPS, cell phones, and MP3 players or older technologies such as printed brochures and
informational signage placed at tour sites.

Through the accumulation of knowledge from past attempts, successes and failures, we are
able to innovate and reach greater heights. History constantly builds on itself as time passes.
Someday, the present will be the past and our descendants will utilize the information we accrued to
create their own advancements and improvements on modern-day ideas.

The Princeton Historical Society (PHS) was founded in 1938 with the purpose of promoting
historical research and preservation in Princeton, Massachusetts. The Historical Society also takes on
the task of “…promot[ing] conversations on creating a better future” (Princeton Historical Society).
More than 50 years later, in 1990, the Princeton Arts Society (PAS) was founded with a purpose to
“…both encourage and support local artists…” as well as to hold programs for its members and the
community (Princeton Arts Society). Both organizations currently have programs in place to
promote community interest and involvement. Still, organization members believed that the creation
of a more interactive program could boost community engagement with the town’s history and art.

Consequently, Ms. Claire Golding and Ms. Clair Degutis, members of the PAS and PHS
proposed the development of a self-guided tour of the town highlighting Princeton’s history and art.
Ms. Golding and Ms. Degutis’s vision was that the tour would be used by visitors and residents and
would achieve both organizations’ aim of increasing participation and understanding of the town’s
history and arts.

Goals and Methods

The goal of our project was to supply the PHS and PAS with an easily updateable self
guided tour available as both a digital and a printed brochure. We were tasked with using technology
that best suited the needs of Princeton and the volunteers who would be maintaining and updating
the tour materials in the future. In addition, we also developed a set of recommendations suggesting
how best to move forward.

In order to accomplish our goal, our group identified a set of objectives and tackled them in
two phases: (1) research and (2) development and evaluation. To begin the research phase, we first
identified the goals our sponsors, PHS and PAS, had for the tour. We did this by conducting an
interview with the two organizations’ representatives Ms. Golding and Ms. Degutis. Following that,
we met with the members of PHS and PAS on October 24, 2016 to conduct a focus group. The
meeting was instrumental in achieving the first phase of our objectives. This focus group gave us a
starting point for sites and locations to include in the tour. We then narrowed the list of sites down
by driving around Princeton and visiting the sites and by analyzing content at the Princeton Public
Library archives.

Next we moved on to identifying features of other historical town tours. This helped us
figure out which important criteria to include in the Princeton tour. We accomplished this objective
through participant observation in historical tours of nearby towns. Participating in these tours
provided us with a starting point and models we could base the Princeton tour on. We participated
in these tours with a rubric to assess their quality in terms of length, ease of locating sites, ease of
reading the map, and relevance and interest in the information provided. Our assessment of these
tours helped us develop a set of standards that we would then implement in the Princeton tour.
We then determined the most appropriate technology to implement for the Princeton tour.

When choosing a technology, we had to keep in mind the financial and staffing constraints of our
sponsors, as well as their educational objectives and the limitations of the town of Princeton. We
designed and created a number of virtual prototype tours in order to discover the pros and cons of
each virtual platform and present them to our sponsors. We gathered input from our sponsors on
their needs for the physical and online version of the tours and determined that an interactive PDF
and a print trifold brochure were the best platforms to use. Due to Princeton’s poor network
coverage, the tour needed to be accessible offline. The PDF could be downloaded once to a tablet
or phone and used throughout the tour without needing to connect to the internet. It is also very
simple to update, requiring only the use of Adobe InDesign.

Having determined the most appropriate technology, we moved on to the second phase of
the project. The purpose of the second phase was to develop the tour, its supplements and provide
recommendations for further development. This phase involved developing content (descriptions
and images) for the sites that would be included in the PDFs and trifold, designing the PDFs and
trifold brochure and writing the instructions for updating the PDFs in Adobe InDesign.
Findings and Deliverables

During the course of our project we made numerous findings related to the design,
development, and maintenance of a tour. Our findings helped us develop criteria for an effective
self-guided tour and gain insight on some of the challenges of the development and maintenance of
historic town tours.

Through our participatory research of the historic town tours, we identified a number of
criteria that form an effective and successful self-guided tour. A successful and effective tour
includes the tourist completing the tour having learned something, having enjoyed the tour, and
gaining interest in the subject matter. We found that a successful tour must include: (1) reference
points, (2) accessible technology, (3) a mixture of mediums for conveying information, and
(4) length of the tour.

The interviews we conducted with organizations and individuals that created the tours gave
us insight on the process of developing tours. We found that (1) working on developing a tour is
best done in a smaller group; (2) the accuracy of information is incredibly important and (3)
historic town tours struggle with gaining feedback from people that participate in their

Another thing we found through the course of our research is that the majority of
Princeton’s archives have not been digitized. There is a lot of information that exists in the archives
that is not available online, which made developing content for the tour more challenging than we
initially thought. This meant that we could only add information to the tour while we had access to
the archives in Princeton.

After completing all our objectives, we had a number of deliverables for our sponsors. These
deliverables included the PDFs of the tour along with their respective Adobe InDesign files so the
PDFs can be updated in the future, the editable version of the trifold brochure, a set of instructions
on how to update both versions of the tour, and a promotional video for the tours.


All of these finding and deliverables resulted in a number of recommendations for creating
new tours. These include: a checklist of criteria for a self-guided tour, development of tours in small
groups, and digitizing the historical archives to make history more accessible.

We also generated a number of recommendations for further research. These include:

1. Researching and developing a way to better receive feedback from the tour as well as a way
to count the number of tourists who use the tour. Our research and interviews illuminated
the desire of tour makers to receive feedback in order to improve the tours as well as to get a
headcount to understand the amount of users of the tour.

2. Developing a way for the Princeton library to digitize their archives and make them
accessible to people worldwide and those living in Princeton who may be interested.
Digitizing the archives would help preserve the artifacts due to the lessened amount of
handling due to the copies that would now be available online. The digitization could also
allow people to learn more about Princeton from a reliable source.

Incorporated in 1771, Princeton has a very interesting and history rich past for a small town
in the middle of Massachusetts. Princeton has something for everyone; whether it is history, hiking,
or relaxation. Discover Princeton today, and come back again and again. History is being made every