Week 2: Origins and Evolution of Digital History

Tuesday, September 3

In this unit, we will explore:

  • the origins and evolution of historians’ usage of digital technology
  • the specific methods historians tend to use
  • “digital history” as a subfield within the larger practice of digital humanities


Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think.” The Atlantic, July 1945.

William Thomas, “Computing and the Historical Imagination” in Schreibman, Susan, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Wiley, 2004.

Stephen Robertson. “The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities.” Dr Stephen Robertson (blog), May 23, 2014.
Thursday, September 5

What Makes Good Digital History?

In this unit, we will explore:

  • a taxonomy of digital history projects
  • criteria for assessing quality and effectiveness of digital projects


Jeff McClurken, “Categories for Digital History Reviews” Journal of American History (2015)

“Digital Project Review Guidelines” The Public Historian

In-class work: Digital History Reviews (You may visit any of these ahead of time; I will assign you a site to review in class)

Blog Assignment

Choose one site above that you did not review in class, and write 3-4 paragraphs reviewing the project, applying the guidelines and criteria from the JAH and The Public Historian. At a minimum, your review should include:

  • The project’s type and purpose, with a brief description
  • Who created and maintains the project
  • Discussion of its strengths and weaknesses
  • What the project does digitally that cannot be accomplished through analog means

Send a link to your blog post to me by email by Monday, Sept 9 at 12:00 pm.