Part of an MIT course poster for COBOL programming, 1969. Courtesy Library of Congress.

This course introduces the conceptual foundations of digital history and offers a survey of its practices. Historians and public historians rely on digital methods for research, analysis, and presentation, thus the importance for a foundational class for emerging practitioners. Though not exhaustive, the course will familiarize you with tools and methods for collection and preservation of digital records; for public history interpretation and storytelling on the web; for textual and spatial analysis; and for thinking critically about issues of design, usability, and accessibility.

This semester we direct our efforts, especially in the second half of the class, toward a specific project–the Civil War and Reconstruction Governors of Alabama, a scholarly, digital edition to be hosted by the University of Alabama. The project partners UA with other universities in the state and the Alabama Department of Archives and History, which holds the physical governors’ records. Together as a class, we will build a prototype of the project and thus give our collective work  a life beyond the short semester. 

My personal goal for the class is to increase your comfort and confidence using many modes of digital practice, and to build your love of tinkering (key to the certainty that you can teach yourself the tools you need)!