Creating Digital History (Fall 2014)

Syllabus G57.2033

Cathy Moran Hajo, 212-998-8666

Course wiki

Class meets on Thursdays, 4:55-7:35 in Room 607 of King Juan Carlos Building.

Historians who work with the public have a particular need to be comfortable with digital tools. The course offers students a basic grounding in the technological skills needed to conduct online historical research and to present the results of their research online. It also introduces students to issues in digital history such as copyright, intellectual property, information abundance, and how the Web changes the relationship between historians and their audience.

Course Aims:

* Learn research skills appropriate and necessary for conducting research in the digital age
* Learn to research, write and promote the results of historical research for a general audience
* Describe historical objects using structured metadata and folksonomies
* Contribute materials to a digital archive on Greenwich Village history
* Create a digital exhibit
* Exposure to encoding digital texts, maps, timelines and visualizations



For classes marked with a LAB, please bring your laptop computer if you have one.

Major Readings


No prior knowledge or experience is required.

Syllabus (PDF.)

In weeks marked LAB, please bring a laptop computer or tablet if you have one.

Sept 2- Week 1: Course Introduction / Greenwich Village History

Special Guest: Sheryl Woodruff, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

We will discuss the course goals, assignments, the use of the Wikidot site and other software that will be used in the course. Sheryl Woodruff will provide a brief introduction to Greenwich Village history.


Join the Researching Greenwich Village History blog at and the Greenwich Village History Digital Archive at .

Sept. 9-Week 2 – What is Digital History, Digitization and Copyright

How does the medium (the World Wide Web) change the practice of doing history? Is Digital History different from History?


Assignments Due: Post your biographical blog entry.

Sept. 16-Week 3: Researching in the Digital Age /Constructing a Historical Research Question.

//How does the digital medium change the ways historians conduct their research?

Look over this book if you have not done primary source research in your undergraduate or graduate studies:
Lab: Introduction to Evernote (creating notebooks and notes, using web clipper, organizing notes, and sharing notebooks)

Assignments Due: Post the general topic you have selected for your digital archive on your student wiki page. Group 1 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

Sept. 23-Week 4: Writing, the Web, and You

//How do you create an online brand for your work? How does the digital medium change the ways historians write? //


Assignments Due: Post the general topic of your web exhibit to your student wiki page. Group 2 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

Sept. 30-Week 5: Introduction to Omeka and Metadata

Finding things in the digital jungle requires careful and consistent description.

Lab: Introduction to Omeka and Dublin Core (creating collections, items, and using Dublin Core).

Assignments Due: Post the first of three blog entries. Post one item to the digital archive with metadata by Saturday, the 5th (midnight). Wait for feedback before adding more items.

Oct. 7 -Week 6: Hands-on Metadata Workshop

We will go over the sample items posted by students. Students should come prepared to enter additional digital items during the workshop, as well as ask questions about how to handle specific items.

Lab: Entering Omeka Items

Assignments Due: Read and rate other students comments on the blog, promote your post using social media tools.** **

Oct. 14-Week 7: Fall Break

Assignments Due:All digital archive items (20 minimum) must be mounted with full metadata. Each item should have an entry in the permissions log (permissions do not have to be cleared yet.)

Oct. 21-Week 8: Designing Web-Based Exhibits


Assignments Due: Group 3 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

Lab: Omeka Exhibits

Oct. 28-Week 9: Digitizing Text

Transcription is just the start; encoding can make documents broadly accessible.


Assignments Due: Group 4 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.>

LAB: Introduction to TEI and Oxygen.

Nov. 5 – Week 10: TEI Workshop


Assignments Due: Post your second blog entry. Group 1 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

LAB: Encoding sample document and mounting it on the Web.

Nov. 11-Week 11: Visualizations: Maps, Timelines, and more

Time and place are popular organizing principles for historical presentations. Creating maps, timelines and periodization offer powerful ways to organize and relate historical facts and artifacts.

Lab: Creating maps and timelines for your exhibits

Assignments Due:Read and rate other students blog posts, comment on at least two posts, and promote your post using social media. Review and correct metadata for your digital archive items. Group 2 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

Nov. 18-Week 12: Social Media: Finding, Building and Using Your Audience

How do you attract attention to your digital products? How can you harness the power of Web 2.0 to engage with and use your audience?


Assignments Due: Have a draft of the sections and pages (titles only) for your exhibit mounted to the GVHDA. Post your EverNote reflection blog. Group 3 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

Nov. 25-Week 13: Hands on Exhibit Workshop

Plan to work on your exhibits in class, bringing any problems you are having, whether with the research, copyright, exhibit structure, or other topic. We will present and discuss issues and questions informally.

**Assignments Due: Draft three exhibit pages and be prepared to talk about them.

Dec. 2-Week 14: Work-in-Progress Presentations

Each student will present their in-progress exhibit, discussing their historical argument, how they chose and present the items, and any issues they are facing.


Assignments Due: Read and rate the blog posts of other students, promote your post using social media. Provide feedback on the student’s exhibit draft assigned to you. Group 4 post discussion prompts/questions in the forum start.

Dec. 9-Week 15: No class —work on your exhibits!

Individual meetings by appointment.

Assignments Due: Permissions for all items used in digital archive must be cleared (and entered in permissions spreadsheet) and items set to public access. ** By Dec.14: **Your web exhibit is due; it should be set to “public” so that it appears on the GVH digital archive site.


One Response to Creating Digital History (Fall 2014)

  1. Pingback: Bibliography: Digital History, December 2012 | Yuko Nakamura

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