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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

History in the Digital World

As our world moves further into the digital age, we are seeing changes in every aspect of our lives, including academia. History is no exception. In reading through articles about this shift to digital methods, a few key themes came to light.

One of the greatest differences between digital history and traditional modes of history is the former’s intersection with public history. With millions of resources available on the Web for anyone–professional, student, curious citizen–to find and use, historical narratives are more accessible than ever before. This expansion of accessibility has a few implications of its own. Because public digital history projects could be used by anyone and everyone, they have to be designed so they can be used by anyone and everyone, with people of all abilities in mind. While it is important that digital history projects be accessible to all, it is also a good idea for the creators to identify target audiences, people who would benefit the most from a particular collection of resources. Public digital history projects must also be centered around public history. This means that they don’t just focus on the famous, white men and the events they are associated with. They must include discussions of the lives and histories of ordinary citizens of all backgrounds.

It is also important to note the impact that the advancement of digital history has had on education. The rise of the digital age has had many effects on our education system. For example, remote learning is now not only possibly, but necessary due to the current pandemic. Many educators who had not already changed their syllabi to keep up with technological advancement are now forced to do so. I think that we will see a lasting change in the ways people are educated, with more of an emphasis on digital approaches to education in all disciplines, including history. As aforementioned, historical resources are far more accessible than before thanks to the Internet. History educators now have the ability to require their students to utilized both primary and secondary resources. The utilization of digital approaches to history education opens many new possibilities for teaching and learning. The next step is learning how to best utilize these resources.

Overall, digital history has proved to be successful in expanding the reach of historical thought throughout society. One new problem that digital historians are facing, however, is digital preservation. Not all resources are digitally stable, and they break down over time. Therefore, that is one of the biggest challenges facing the discipline today: figuring out how to preserve online resources so they can not only be accessible to people of the world today but also to future generations.

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Adventures in Digital History Spring 2020

Civil War Letters: Week 11

The new unprecedented circumstances we are now all facing have forced us, like everyone else, to make changes to our original plan for our project. Sadly, we did not get all of the letters scanned in the Digital Archiving Lab before we had to leave campus, so we will not have a full collection of letter to give back to the NPS. Hopefully, others will be able to continue and finish the work in the future. What that means for our Omeka site is that we will either have to use the jpeg scans provided by the NPS of the letters that we did not get to scan, or just exclude the letters that we did not have time to scan. If we decide on the former, we have to make sure to include the appropriate citations and give credit where credit is due.

While we figure out what to do about the letters, we are continuing to work on the timeline and StoryMap. Both are coming along well and should be close to finished very soon. The next step is to start embedding the letter files in our Omeka site. Our plan is for everyone to practice uploading one letter to the site by Thursday and compare what we did. Using that, we will establish a standard method of embedding and entering in metadata.

To see our full group update, see the post “Group Update 3/24” on Erin Andrewlevich’s blog. (shown below)

Group Update 3/24