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Speculative Annotation

Coming Summer 2021

About the Project

Speculative Annotation is a dynamic website, presenting items from the Library’s collections for students, teachers, and other users to annotate through captions, drawings, and other types of markmaking. Working with curators at the Library of Congress and students and teachers in the classroom, Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan will develop tools that support the types of conversations students and educators want to have with historical objects. The website will include unique design features such as watermarks and/or visual layers to distinguish items annotated with this tool. The experimental application will premier in the summer of 2021, along with lessons plans and example annotations from Library curators. You can read a conversation about annotation and its role in the classroom with Courtney here. If you are an educator interested in collaborating on the project, please email

Inspiration and Goals

Courtney developed the idea for Speculative Annotations through her work with public ritual, civic engagement, and creative notetaking as record. She is inspired by the work of artists such as Wendy Red Star, Tony Cokes, and Laura Owens.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Place K-12 students in direct conversation with primary sources from Library of Congress collections
  • Share these items with contextual aids including lesson plans, curator annotations, and links to the original items on the Library's website
  • Provide a space for users of all ages to have a depth of experience with a curated selection of free to use Library of Congress items
  • Connect items from history with the day-to-day experience of citizens and application users

About Courtney

Courtney McClellan is the 2021 Innovator in Residence at the Library of Congress. She is a visual, research-based artist who lives in Atlanta, G.A. and works in a range of media including sculpture, performance, photography, and writing. In subject, McClellan's work addresses speech and civic engagement. She has served as studio art faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State University. Most recently, she served as the 2019-2020 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence at the University of Michigan. You can contact Courtney with feedback or questions about the project at

Special Thanks

Special thanks goes to Speculative Annotation Web Developer Adam Arling, UX Consultant Jess Vu, and Graphic Designer Olivia Graham.

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