Week 3: Digital Historical Research

Tuesday, September 10

In this unit, we’ll explore:

  • how digital technologies are changing historical research methods
  • tools for managing digital sources
  • the advantages and unique challenges of digital research


Cohen, Dan. “Is Google Good for History?” Dan Cohen, January 7, 2010. http://www.dancohen.org/2010/01/07/is-google-good-for-history/.

“Beyond Romantic Advertisements: Ancestry.Com, Genealogy, and White Supremacy.” AAIHS blog. https://www.aaihs.org/beyond-romantic-advertisements-ancestry-com-genealogy-and-white-supremacy/.

“Why Don’t Archivists Digitize Everything?” Archives @ PAMA (blog), May 31, 2017. https://peelarchivesblog.com/2017/05/31/why-dont-archivists-digitize-everything/.

Episode 092: Sharon Block, How to Research History Online

Note: if you’ve never had a podcast as assigned “reading” before, it can be a new experience. Be sure to take a few notes as you go to remind yourself of key points for journaling and discussion.

Thursday, September 12

NOTE: for this class session, please bring your personal laptop to class

Lab: Digital research management with Zotero

Before class, view the videos below:

Ready, Set, Zotero!

Using Zotero for academic writing a good demonstration, despite the fact that this guy uses APA (ugh…I cringed just typing that)


Practicum Homework (due 12:00 pm Monday, September 16)
  1. Join the class Zotero group using the link emailed earlier this week.
  2. Use library databases (America: History and Life and JSTOR are good starters), the Bailey Library catalog, and WorldCat, locate sources relevant to helping us understand the history of poor farms and poverty relief in 19th and 20th-century America.  Remember you might need to vary terms and vocabulary – using terms like “poorhouse” “poor relief” “almshouse” etc. Sources should be secondary sources of good academic quality.
  3. Save at least one source that seems valuable for our project to the group Zotero library; for that source, make at least one note that explains why you selected that source and how it might be useful to the project (this should be more than “it is about poor relief”)   If someone has already added your source, you’ll need to find another.
  4. Add a tag for your source with your last name – this is important in order to receive credit for the assignment!
  5. Write a blog post (approx. 250 words or so) reflecting on 1) what you’ve learned about historical research in the digital age, and 2) speculate about how you might improve your own practices with the new knowledge and tools you’ve learned.