Digital History vs. Digital Humanities

Welcome to my blog for History 427, Adventures on Digital History. This seminar is just one of the many courses that I am enrolled in this semester here at the University of Mary Washington and I’m positive that it is going to be one of my favorites! As a double major in History and Historic Preservation with a Minor in Museum Studies, this is a great class to be in because it satisfies elective requirements in both my majors and minor. However, that is not the only reason why I am taking this course.

One of the reasons that I decided to take this course is because Dr. McClurken, the instructor, is my advisor and he told me about this course. At first, I was going to wait to take this class because I had not completed the prerequisites. However, Dr. McClurken offered to give me permission to take this course. I’m so grateful that he did because this course is going to help me rethink the ways in which I research, write, and present information about the past.

Having this knowledge will be helpful in both my current and future studies here at the University. Also, this course will help build on the skills that I have learned at my current job in Special Collections and University Archives. Also, the final product of this digital history project will be something that has the potential to surpass my time here at the University of Mary Washington.

With the emergence of the World Wide Web in the late twentieth-century history was said to be all over the web. Organizations like the Library of Congress created websites to store information and make it accessible to the public. Even in the Introduction of Cohen and Rosenweig’s book on Digital History, they discuss the ways in which digital media allows us to do things better. The seven things that they mention include capacity accessibility flexibility, diversity manipulability, interactivity, and hyper-textuality. In this chapter, they go onto explain how each of the seven aspects is important.  Cohen and Rosenweig also do a good job of looking at the dangers and hazards of worldwide history. These hazards include quality durability, readability, passivity, and inaccessibility. 

Another part of our first readings worked to define Digital Humanities. Based on the reading I was able to determine that Digital Humanities is considered a “big tent” because of how interdisciplinary it is. In my opinion, in order to understand this concept, I needed to determine the definition of humanity. According to the dictionary, humanities are academic disciplines that study the aspects of human society and culture. As a result, I determined that the best definition of Digital Humanities is the intersection of scholarly activity with digital technologies. One of the readings described this intersection as a “two-way” relationship that works to incorporate technology with liberal arts. From the reading, I came to the conclusion that Digital History and Digital Humanities are similar. Since history is considered a part of humanities that means that Digital History falls under the “big tent” of Digital Humanities. One of the readings described Digital History as a “branch” of Digital Humanities. This means that Digital History is an extension of “quantitative history” which allows historians to use digital media to further analyze, present, and conduct research in their fields of study.