What are the “Digital Humanities?”
A key component of coursework for History 671 is students’ creation of a digital exhibit about the history of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Digital tools offer us the opportunity to create a meaningful public history project in the course of a single semester.
The term “digital humanities” is broadly applied to various projects within a rapidly evolving field of intellectual inquiry. Generally, digital humanities projects augment conventional humanities scholarship with digital technologies. According to the Wikipedia article on digital humanities, “[o]ne of the goals of the digital humanities is to understand scholarly documents as more than texts and papers. This includes the integration of multimedia, metadata and dynamic environments. A dynamic scholarly document would no longer resemble a linear narrative.”
Rather than the traditional, single-author work of scholarship, digital humanities projects are often collaborative, and invite participation and integration between information and ideas from multiple sources. They take previously available documents and information, and use digital technologies to analyze this information or present it in new ways. Often, digital humanities projects will “mash up” information from several sources, synthesizing in order to better illustrate a historical period, set of ideas, or social condition. Geospatial digital projects, which take advantage of new technologies to present historical materials in space as well as time, are one exciting new area with great promise for historical understanding.
Essays about Digital Humanities and Digital History
This is an essay on the evolving field of digital humanities. Written in friendly non-academic language, it provides an easy introduction to the complex issues related to scholarly digital work. It is loaded with links to other projects, websites, videos and blogs, which means this essay itself is offering a real life example of digital scholarly work.
A good introduction from 2008 to many available tools and resources for digital humanities.
A collaboratively produced introduction to the field of Digital Humanities.
Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web by Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig (UPenn Press, 2005)
Full text online: http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/index.php
Book by two of the leading lights in digital history, who are (or were, in Rosenzweig’s case, as he is now dead) based at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
Prof. Alan Liu’s graduate course on digital humanities at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Fall 2013.
“Showcases the scholarship and news of interest to the digital humanities community, through a process of aggregation, discovery, curation, and review.”
Stephen Robertson of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media thinks about the specific opportunities that the digital revolution has created for the interpretation of history.
Lisa Spiro’s excellent overview of approaches and examples–a real, practical “how-to” guide for getting started in DH work.
Miriam Posner’s really great page of resources for students on “what they might do and what technical skills they might need in order to do it.” This set of resources helps to connect front-end digital humanities outcomes with the behind-the-scenes tools needed to build them.
Interchange: The Promise of Digital History
This is a forum specifically focused on what the digital revolution means for history. It was originally published in the Journal of American History (Vol. 95, No. 2, Spring 2008, pp. 442-51) and features Daniel J. Cohen, Michael Frisch, Patrick Gallagher, Steven Mintz, Kirsten Sword, Amy Murrell Taylor, William G. Thomas III, and William J. Turkel.
“A comprehensive, peer-reviewed, open-access journal that features the best scholarship, tool, and conversations produced by the digital humanities community in the previous quarter.”
Source of federal grant funding for digital humanities projects.
This one, about different ways of presenting resources, is a little more academic.
UNC-Chapel Hill Projects and Resources
- A View to Hugh (Blog discussing the processing of the Hugh Morton collection of photographs and films)
- Change in the Mountains
- Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative & UNC Digital Innovation Lab
- Documenting the American SouthTop-level page leading to UNC-Chapel Hill’s large repository of digitized, contextualized historical materials, including:
- Learn-NC’s North Carolina History Digital Textbook
- Mapping the Long Women’s Movement (“an experiment with indexing, using, and ultimately understanding oral history in new ways.”)
- North Carolina e-resources, UNC Library (see especially Newspapers.com)
- North Carolina Maps (Mass digitization effort to present all pre-1923 North Carolina maps in digitized form; many of the maps are also “georeferenced” and overlaid on present satellite imagery of the same areas so that spatial relationships of past and present can be understood)
- Oral Histories of the American South (Digitization project built around longtime UNC-Chapel Hill institution, the Southern Oral History Program)
- UNC Libraries digital collections
- UNC Libraries Course Guide for GIS Classes
- UNC Libraries Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Services
Digital History Projects Based Elsewhere
- Atlas of Early Printing
- British Library’s Magnificent Maps (including themed storytelling and interpretation of particular maps)
- Cartography 2.0 (information on animated and interactive maps)
- Cleveland Historical
- A Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg (Smithsonian Magazine)
- Digital Durham
- Henry Hudson 400
- Histories of the National Mall
- The Historyapolis Project (Minneapolis history)
- Manahatta Project
- Mecklenburg County, NC Geoportal
- NY Public Library Map Rectifier
- Open Durham
- Philaplace: Sharing Stories from the City of Neighborhoods
- Railroads and the Making of Modern America
- Stanford University Spatial History Project (includes various visualizations)
- The Tibetan and Himalayan Library
- Valley of the Shadow Project
- Virginia 400 (links to many other projects here)
Digital Repositories Useful for Research
- David Rumsey Map Collection
- See especially Rumsey’s keynote lecture at the 2011 Digital Humanities Conference on “Reading Historical Maps Digitally: How Spatial Technologies Can Enable Close, Distant and Dynamic Interpretations:
- Digital NC (“Explore original materials from libraries, museums, and archives across North Carolina”)
- Digital Public Library of America
- Flickr and Google Maps mashup using street view to compare past and present
- Hathi Trust (“Millions of digital books online”)
- Internet Archive Book Images’ Photostream (Flickr; images from historic public domain books, with metadata and links to full book content)
- Library of Congress, American Memory collection
- Lookback Maps
- National Archives on YouTube
- See especially the National Park Service videos
- National Park Service History e-Library search the other databases listed at the top of the page (NPS Focus, IRMA Portal, and NPS Library)
- National Park Service History.com contains many of the resources also found on the NPS History e-Library, as well as other materials. Private site maintained by the former manager of the NPS History e-Library (now retired).
- National Park Service GIS site: http://www.nps.gov/gis/ and http://maps.nps.gov/
- Newberry Library Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
- NCPedia (Digital encyclopedia of NC history)
- North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office’s HPOWEB: GIS Web Service
- Open Parks Network (Clemson University) (growing collection of parks-related studies and historical/cultural materials)
Tools and Apps
- Clio Historical
- Google Earth Tutorials
- Google Earth “Tools for Schools”
- Prospect (DH Press)
- StoryMap JS
- Timeline JS
Practical How-to Resources
- A Digital Toolbox for Historians: Great Pinterest site with links to all kinds of amazing digital history tools.
- Where to find DH Jobs (Sheila Brennan)
- The Programming Historian: Learn some simple programming skills.
- Geospatial Historian: “Tutorial-based, open access textbook . . . designed to teach humanists practical digital mapping and GIS skills . . .” Modeled on The Programming Historian.
- Jeffrey McClurken’s great set of resources for Teaching Digital History, developed for the 2014 Doing Digital History NEH Workshop
- Visualizing the Past: Graphs, Maps, and Trees: Imagining the Future of Public Interfaces to Cultural Heritage Collections (group blog from 2012 National Council on Public History working group; includes discussions of many tools and techniques)
- Center for History and New Media, George Mason University
- University of Virginia Scholar’s Lab
- UVA Libraries’ Scholars Lab Historic GIS Data and Links
Some resources from the 2010 NEH-sponsored Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship, hosted by the Scholars Lab at the University of Virginia Libraries. Anne Whisnant attended this Institute in May 2010.
- Main Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship website
- Twitter stream for the #geoinst hashtag at Twapper Keeper
- Frontiers in Digital Humanities (Video of final two-minute presentations by Geoinst participants)
- UVA Scholars Lab’s Spatial Humanities page (offshoot of the Geospatial Institute)