Category Archives: Meta

AHA Statement on Embargoing Dissertations

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Digital Historians, as many of you know, the American Historical Association’s Council adopted a statement at their July meeting encouraging the embargoing of dissertations for six years. This statement has generated a great deal of conversation on twitter and in the world of digital history about the changing conditions of scholarly communication and the kinds of leadership and direction the AHA should be taking on these matters:

We can and should certainly continue this conversation here:

  • What are the implications for those of us working in digital history?
  • What about our students who are working on digital dissertations?
  • Shouldn’t our focus be on the quality of the scholarship, not necessarily on the form of transmission?
  • Has anyone had a bad experience with a publisher because too much material was already available?
  • What about article publications?
  • What should we be saying to tenure and promotion committees about their duty to evaluate a range of forms of scholarship?

History of this Site

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For those who are finding us via Twitter, Facebook or word of mouth, etc., I thought I’d fill in a bit of background about the appearance of this digital historians site on a particular Friday in June. It was introduced by Sharon Leon at the “Working Group for Digital Historians” unconference session at THATCamp Prime, proposed at You’ll also find a link on that page, at lower right, to the “Notepad” of session notes created collaboratively during the session (or go directly to

(Update 6/9: Recommended Twitter hashtag is #dhist.)

Thanks go to Sharon for creating  the session proposal and this site!


Four Flavors of Digital History

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Given out discussion at THATcamp I thought it might be useful to start this off with a run down of genres of digital history. When someone asks me what digital history is my answer generally will involve reference to these four distinct kinds of things.

  1. Computational analysis and interpretation of historical sources: Everything from Word Clouds to Topic Modeling. This includes both cliometrics and those who swear by the screwmeneutical imperative.
  2. Collecting and/or preserving born-digital primary sources:From disk images of hardrives, to archived webpages. This includes but is not limited to photos on flickr, presidential emails, lolcats, the stuxnet virus, sensor-net data, the source code of ninja gaiden 2, the interface of instagram, yelp reviews of the Statue of Liberty & an assortment of punch cards from the 1890s & the plug board of an enigma machine.
  3. Digital modes for presenting, organizing, and distributing historical interpretation: From building software to support historical research, These might include presenting historical games and simulations as publications or creating software for exhibiting cultural heritage collections on the web, creating digital exhibitions to communicate historical analysis.
  4. Code: Digital History often requires code to scape web pages, clean texts, transform CSV files and perform various other sundry tasks, on both large and small scales. Have you written something you’d like others to use? Or found some hidden python scripts at GitHub? Post them here!