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Digital History: Recap of the “Two-Part Series”

In October-December of 2012, members of the Digital History group hosted a two-part series on Digital History topics. The aim was to stimulate discussion on key issues within the realm of Digital Humanities that affect historians and the practice of historical study. While the first part of the series focused on digital tools, the later half examined the use of digital tools in public history and the professional environment. Below is a brief description of each of the blogs that were a part of this series. Thank you so much to all of the contributors—bloggers and commentators!

If you missed reading the blogs in this series and would like to contribute to the conversation, please see the links below. Post your comments to this blog or any of the blogs listed on this page.



Week 1: “Mapping and Spatial History”

By Benjamin Weber, a second-year History Ph.D. student at Harvard University.

In this first post of the series, Ben blogs about digital mapping as a pedagogical tool. He provides information on current digital mappings tools such as GIS, Google Earth, and Social Explorer, and discusses the challenges of using these tools in the classroom. Ben poses an essential questions, “To what extent do visual representations of historic trends render more seemingly objective that which is inherently subjective, messy and necessarily complicated?” Check out Week 1 in the series, “Mapping and Spatial History,” for discussion on the usefulness of digital mapping and the problems associated with them.


Week 2: “Digital Timelines”

By Christina Davidson, a third-year History Ph.D. student at Duke University.

In this blog, Christina explores answers to the question, “What exactly do digital timelines offer the history teacher and the professional historian?” Her answers focus on the usefulness of digital timelines to pedagogy, as well as the possibilities that such timelines may offer the historian who engages them for research outside of the classroom. Click above for further discussion on digital timelines and their limitations and potential.


Week 3: “Creating ‘No Es Facil’: A Visual Historiography”

By Linda Garcia Merchant, an independent documentary filmmaker and co-director of the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Humanities Project.

This third post in the series, by Linda Garcia Merchant, focuses on the use of film, mapping, digital timelines, and photography to produce an interactive project when internet is unavailable. To this end, Linda discusses her film project, “No Es Facil (It’s not easy): Navigating the Split Seams, Cracks and Crevasses of a Chicana Feminst Narrative,” which was produced for the Chicana plenary of the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Scholars (NACCS). To add to the discussion on how to create visual historiography with contemporary digital tools, click above.


Week 4: “Digital Databases”

By Benjamin Weber, a second-year History Ph.D. student at Harvard University.

In the fourth blog, Benjamin Weber examines the world of Digital Databases. While providing a list of a number of digital databases available, Ben also discusses some of the challenges, such as accessibility. In addition, this blog discusses the importance of digitization of archival materials, the introduction of optical character recognition, and the proliferation of audio and visual archives. To read more and to add to the discussion, check out “Digital Databases” above.


Week 5: “Museums and Digital Tools”

By Abby Mullen, a first-year History Ph.D. student at Northeastern University.

In this blog, Abby Mullen discusses the ways that museums have used digital tools to reengage the public in historical debate. She focuses specifically on the digitization of museum collections and the ways that such digitization opens access for the public to connect to museums online. Abby sparks debate by presenting some of the challenges and benefits of museums’ digital integration. Click above to read more and to join the conversation.


Week 6: “Amplifying Voices Through Social Media: My Experiences with Oral Histories and Social Media Platforms”

By Ashley Young, a third-year History Ph.D. student at Duke University.

In this blog Ashley Young poses a key question, “What is the current relationship between social media platforms and oral histories?” As many more historians are using oral histories in their research, in what ways can they also use social media to make their projects more accessible? Ashley explores these questions by describing her work with the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA), an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Click above to read more about oral history, social media, and the challenges of representation.


Week 7: “Rewriting History Post Monograph”

By Erika Dowell, an Associate Librarian of the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

This post by Lilly librarian, Erika Dowell, examines the challenges of publishing historical research in digital formats. While new types of visualizations are possible, the article and monograph still reign within the academic realm.  Erika explores the controversy behind digital publications and provides information on current institutions that are promoting non-traditional formats for scholarly publication.  As she states, “It appears risky, but not impossible to start out as an academic historian with full engagement in the digital world.” To read more and add to the discussion, click above.


Week 8: “Professional Development”

By Tammy Brown, Assistant Professor of Black World Studies and History at Miami University of Ohio and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina.

In this last post of the Two-Part Series, Tammy discusses the importance of finding good academic mentors. She provides advice to younger scholars on how to establish a mentor “Dream Team” and stay away from “Tor-mentors.” This blog stands to remind all scholars that, whether or not one chooses to engage in the Digital Humanities, “good advice from the right mentor with the right energy” will never go out of style.  Click above to join the conversation and share your own advice on mentors and mentoring.



Thank you again to all who participated (and to all who will continue to participate) in this Two-Part Series. A special thanks to all of the Digital History bloggers who stepped-up to make this first series a success: Benjamin Weber, Christina Davidson, Linda Garcia Merchant, Abby Mullen, Ashley Young, Erika Dowell, and Tammy Brown. We look forward to many more stimulating conversations in 2013!


Tina Davidson

Ben Weber








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