In 2005, David Foster Wallace told the graduating class of Kenyon College a joke:
“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”
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.