By Kalani Craig
The lowly charter.
It lives in infamy, perhaps because charters—written records that cemented a variety of agreements about sales, leases, officeholders, and a host of other legal transactions—are simultaneously rich treasure troves of historical information and, when you read a lot of them in a row, sleep-inducing.
For the past 10 years digital archives and crowdsourcing have been popular forms of digital history, as scholars have harnessed the power of both massive servers and a willing public to digitize and transcribe diverse types of historical material ranging from menus to weather reports. Few have excited me as much as Colored Conventions. A work of impressive scholarship, important activism, and valuable pedagogy, the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) hits for the cycle. The primary goal of the CCP is to recover an understudied aspect of the 19th-century reform movement, black conventions.
One of the most impressive archives on the web, Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database is the product of a massive undertaking from a network of scholars, technology experts, and government organizations from around the world who have invested thousands of hours into building a database of nearly 36,000 slaving voyages. Users can search the database using a variety of variables including a ship’s name, year of arrival, number of captives transported, outcome of voyage, embarkation and disembarkation locations, and the ship’s flag.
John Rosinbum on how he uses ORBIS, a program that allows users to interact with maps of Ancient Rome, in the classroom.
In the past two decades historians have entered the digital age, designing a host of exciting projects that use technology to better understand, analyze, and visualize the past. These projects offer outstanding avenues for instructors at every level—from kindergarten to graduate school—to engage their students in the study of the past. This series will examine a wide range of digital projects on subjects that span both the globe and three millennia, and discuss ways to use them in the classroom.
By Jessica Pearson-Patel
In the summer of 2013, I had the incredible fortune to participate in the National History Center’s 8th International Seminar on Decolonization in Washington, DC. I had just received my PhD in history and French studies at New York University and was about to start a postdoc at Tulane University. Although much of the seminar focused on helping participants advance their own research projects on the history of decolonization, I found that some of the most engaging conversations I had with both the seminar faculty and with my fellow participants centered on teaching.
By Allison Frickert-Murashige
Thermohaline circulation, Aedes aegypti, sodium nitrate, and CO2 uptake are all terms that four years ago I would not have envisioned using in my US and world history survey course classrooms. Let’s face it—even though some of us may have a hidden science nerd lurking within—most historians are not formally trained in biological, environmental, climate, and meteorological sciences. Moreover, historians, with our emphasis on human agency, tend to be a bit leery of environmental determinism. And yet, as a participant in the AHA’s three-year program “American History, Atlantic and Pacific,” supported by a grant from the NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative, I found myself completely hooked by our environmental history presentations.
By Jessica Choppin Roney
Editor’s Note: This is the last in a three-part series of blog posts on the National History Center’s Mock Policy Briefing Program, which Jessica Roney implemented in her course on the history of Philadelphia at Temple University. Part One discussed the rationale and relevance behind incorporating the program in a history classroom, while Part Two offered reflections on the program from students in Roney’s class. The Mock Policy Briefing Program Educator’s Workshop on “Understanding History’s Relevance to Today” will be held in Philadelphia on April 6.