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Tools for the Online Historian

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February 17, 2015 by nsakas1

This weeks readings introduced a new set of tools available online for historical projects and research. The chapter in Writing History in the Digital Age was a eye opening look at the ways scholarship can be collected and thereby disseminated to a multitude of users that would either have not had access in the past, or would have had a much more difficult time finding it. It was also thought provoking in that this kind of resource opens up many other areas of historical research. For instance having an online database that places multitudes of primary and secondary sources on slavery, not just in the U.S., but around the world, like the women’s history site does can allow for connections never thought of before. Scholars who have never seen how their research relates to the broader picture can form new working relationships that may produce historical scholarship in ways never thought of before. However, this article also brings us back to the problem of access. The authors both state that the price tag on a resource like this is not cheap and that so far it is only available through larger library subscriptions. While issues of access are a problem that needs to be, and according to the authors are being addressed, this kind of resource is an exciting addition to the tools that historians can use.

Some of the other readings this week looked at the subject of oral history. While this historical resource is not new to historians, in the overall timeline of historical research it is still a relatively new field. The online sources examined in the readings this week do a great job of assisting researchers that are both new to the field of oral history as well as those who are more familiar with the practice. The website for history in the Digital Age, I thought, offered extensive resources for anyone seeking to utilize oral history in their research. For beginners there was a whole page of getting started tips, as well as a digital character that can aid the researcher in deciding what technology will work best for their purposes. For the more seasoned oral historian their is a collection of recent scholarship on the subject that can keep researchers abreast of the latest methods that oral historians are using. Because oral history requires a different set of skills than other research methods, I thought that this site did a great job of preparing researchers for the rewarding experience oral history has to offer.

Both of these sites offer a wealth of knowledge that can aid researchers in their projects. The product will still be dictated by the ways researchers utilize these tools. However, the potential is there to see some exciting new scholarship in the discipline of history.


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