May 12, 2009
By Elisabeth Grant
The theme of the May 2009 issue of Perspectives on History centers on how new media (web sites, wikis, Google, and more) intersect with history. AHA president Laurel Thatcher Ulrich begins this exploration with her article “Erasing History.” In it she explains how the “digital revolution not only offers new ways of researching and disseminating history… [i]t is also creating new topics for historical inquiry.”
Intersections: History and New Media
Robert B. Townsend introduces the broad array of new media articles in this issue in “Viewing History at the Intersection of Past and Future,” and comments that these “essays consider how the new media of the internet are changing the practice of history in our capacities as scholars, teachers, and general disseminators of knowledge of the past to the general public.”
The essays in this issue take up the theme from different angles. Some ask broad questions and look at how new media affects general concepts (narratives, data) and whole disciplines (public history), while other articles concentrate on specific new media projects and programs.
New Media – Broad Looks
Essays with a broad take on new media include:
- Digital Media in History: Remediating Data and Narratives
Stefan Tanaka points out that there is “much possibility for enriching history by using digital media” but stresses the need to “engage, evaluate, and change technologies.”
- New Media and the Challenges for Public History
How can organizations (museums, historic sites, archives) use new media to stay connected? Tim Grove considers this question.
- The Mythology of Blogs: A Top Ten List for the Uninitiated Historian
Think you know what blogging is about? Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom sets the record straight on what’s true and what’s myth in the blogosphere.
- Roy Rosenzweig and the Future of the Past
We couldn’t talk about history and new media without talking about the late Roy Rosenzweig. Steven Mintz revisits Rosenzweig’s work and labels him a “torchbearer.”
New Media – Projects and Programs
Sometimes the best way to discuss a topic is to point to concrete examples. The authors of the following articles deconstruct new media projects they’ve been a part of.
- Two Ideas, Two Cities, Two Projects: A Digital Urban World
Janice L. Reiff takes a look at the Encyclopedia of Chicago and Hypercities.
- Practicing Digital History at the Intersection of Teaching, Research, and Outreach
E. Thomas Ewing looks to Virginia Schools in the Great Depression web site to discuss how new media can allow the combination of teaching, research, and outreach.
- Erasing the Line between Pedagogy and Epistemology
John McClymer breaks down how he designed a course that “erase[s] the boundaries… between studying and doing history.”
- Investigating U.S. History at CUNY—Digitally
David Jaffee details the Investigating U.S. History project.
- What is Digital History? A Look at Some Exemplar Projects
Douglas Seefeldt and William G. Thomas call up (and link to) a plethora of digital history examples.
- Keeping up with the Web, 1997–2008: Women and Social Movements in the United States
Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin cover the past decade of their experience working with women’s history online.
- Wiki and the History Classroom
Kevin B. Sheets talks about developing the “CortlandWiki” and how it worked in the classroom.
- The Digital Durham Project: Creating Community through History, Technology, and Service Learning
Trudi Abel presents an initiative from Duke University, The Digital Durham Project.
- Visualizing 19th-Century Edinburgh with Animation Software
Lisa Rosner investigates murders from the 1800s with the help of software used by real estate agents.
- Pragmatic As Well As Prescient: Digital History Education at George Mason University
Daniel J. Cohen examines digital history education at George Mason University from 2001 to now.
The History Engine
A number of articles in this issue address the History Engine, a web site (that we’ve covered on AHA Today in the past) that allows students to create articles in a way that teaches them how to do the work of a historian.
- History Engine: Creating a Writing Assignment for the Digital Age
By Andrew J. Torget with Scott Nesbit
- Teaching with the History Engine: Experiences from the Field
By Lloyd Benson, Julian Chambliss, Jamie Martinez, Kathryn Tomasek, and Jim Tuten
- Creating Community with the History Engine Connecting Teachers, Librarians, Students, and Scholars
By Kathryn S. Meier and Rachel Shapiro
Believe it or not, there are even more (non-new-media) articles in the May issue of Perspectives on History. The News section covers salaries, degree numbers, missing newspapers, new prizes, a German resource, and a “counterfactual” movie on JFK.
We also continue the Timelines series by presenting the Minutes of the 1909 Business Meeting.
John Hope Franklin continues to remain in many historians’ hearts and minds, and three articles in this issue remember him: Leon F. Litwack’s “Remembering John Hope Franklin,” Mary Frances Berry’s “Franklin, the Quintessential Scholar Activist,” and David Barry Gaspar’s “Franklin: The Mentor in My Memory.”