Introduction to Digital History

With the development of computers in the late twentieth century, many fields of study were dramatically changed. One of these fields to take on the task of computer mastery is history. I am currently in a Digital History course at Messiah College, taught by Professor David Pettegrew. We have been studying how to further incorporate computer technology into the field of history. In Toni Weller’s book History in the Digital Age, he states “What has come to be termed ‘Digital History’ is a recognized sub-field of the discipline…” (Weller, 3). Although Digital History is history, it is actually quite unique. However, with the advancement of computer technology, history now has a platform to make vast amounts of information available to almost anyone, anywhere.

Many historians are accustomed to using the traditional methods of studying history. Though this is not an issue, it does make the study of history vastly laborious. As Toni Weller puts it in his book History in the Digital Age, “…digital history is an exciting and forward-thinking field of enquiry, it’s very concentration on technology and digital tools means that it can be alienating to the more traditional historians” (Weller, 4). Just imagine you are in the desert driving when your car breaks down. Instead of attempting to flag down a passing car to aid you in your predicament, you instead decide to walk the arduous twenty-mile hike to the gas station. 9638435181_7e3e44c2b8_bThis would be similar to the historian who decides go about research ignoring the excellent tools provided.

The use of digital media is vastly growing, so this blog will serve as a resource to the historian who is looking for ways to utilize technology. Over the course of the upcoming Fall semester we will touch on topics such as “word mining”, and even how to use digital media in the school setting. Digital history is an expanding field, one which can be extremely useful when the proper techniques and search tools are identified. This blog will be my attempt to share the necessary tools in order to properly prepare historians for the digital realm.

-Edward LaRow III, Senior History Major at Messiah College

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