The AHA ran its fifth Getting Started in Digital History workshop immediately prior to the start of the 2018 meeting. More and more of our attendees describe themselves as skilled digital historians, so each session included a clear skill range that let beginners get a good handle on digital history and gave returning intermediate attendees the chance to learn new skills in a comfortable, approachable environment. The workshop concluded with the plenary lunch, “Table Talks,” which offered attendees the chance to network and chat in an informal setting.

Date: Thursday, January 4, 2018
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: Thurgood Marshall South (Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level)


Reading the Expertise Scale

Rating 1

I’m scared of technology
I don’t have a lot of experience with technology

Rating 5

I have some experience with lots of technology but am sometimes nervous about new tech
I have a little expertise in one technology but not a lot of broad experience

Rating 10

I have some experience with lots of technology and am not afraid of new tech
I have a lot of experience with lots of technology
I am a master of one technology and it makes others easier to acquire

Introduction to Spatial History

Session leader: Kate M. Craig

Tired of having your students write traditional papers but worried about supporting a web-based project? This is a workshop designed for those who have little to no experience with digital pedagogy or digital mapping, but would like to incorporate some digital/public/spatial assignments into their existing classes with little technical knowledge or institutional support.

We’ll use ArcGIS Story Maps, a free interface for self-publishing digital projects that can include (but doesn’t require) a mapping component. Anyone who can point and click with a mouse can produce a fairly polished and attractive online project. We’ll use that easy interface to help you familiarize yourself with the very basics of digital mapping and the Story Maps interface and send you home with the makings of an online personal or class project.

While Story Maps are the focus of this workshop, we will also discuss other digital mapping and storytelling tools that you might consider integrating as a component of a course (to give a few examples: StoryMap JS, WorldMap, MapStory, and the History Engine) and the process of developing, introducing, and evaluating these kinds of assignments.

You’ll need: a laptop, any images or data you would like to work with (especially if there is a geographical component), and your ideas about the kind of projects you might want your students to create. For inspiration, make sure you look at the Story Maps App List.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

DH Toolbox

Session leader: Lauren Tilton

This session is an all-encompassing look at incorporating entry-level tools for text mining, mapping and timelines into your teaching or research for the first time. We’ll use web-based tools such as Storymap.js, Voyant and Timeline.js and give you a common dataset to work from. Along the way, we’ll also give you a few tips on how to get your own data in shape. Preparation: Please bring an Internet-equipped laptop.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Digital Community Engagement

Session leader: Crystal Moten and Rebecca S. Wingo

Historians are not typically trained in the best practices of community engagement, and indeed, what are these best practices? This session will examine our work with the History Harvest, a community-based, student-driven archive project. Over the course of a semester, History Harvest students partner with a community group to run a history event in which members of the community bring artifacts of significance that tell their story. In addition to working through the nuts and bolts of the History Harvest and Dublin Core metadata with hands-on experience in Omeka, workshop participants will work together to generate a list of best practices for digital community engagement.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Googledocs, Phones, YouTube, and Podcasts: A Crash Course in Technology and Collaborative Learning

Session leader: Ethan Hawkley; Frederik Vermote; Tina Mitchell

This workshop is designed to help teachers use technology to foster collaborative learning in their classrooms. Participants will be trained on using technologies to set up a collaborative course, to increase in-class student engagement, and to get students involved in the creation of rubrics and review sheets. Specifically, we will demonstrate and discuss ways that phones can help students focus on class material, how Googledocs’ functionality can push students to engage with the material and with one another, and how to take full advantage of YouTube videos and podcasts, like Crash Course and the History of the World in 100 Objects.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Collections as Data

Session leader: Laurie Allen, Stewart Varner

The purpose of this workshop is to spark conversations about using emerging digital approaches to study cultural heritage collections. It will include a few demonstrations of history projects that make use of collection materials from galleries, libraries, archives, or museums (GLAM) in computational ways, or that address those materials as data. The group will also discuss a range of ways that historical collections can be transformed and creatively re-imagined as data. The workshop will include conversations about the ethical aspects of these kinds of transformations, as well as the potential avenues of exploration that are opened by historical materials treated as data. Part of an IMLS-funded National Digital Forum grant, this workshop will ultimately inform the development of recommendations that aim to support cultural heritage community efforts to make collections collections more readily amenable to computational use.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blood Contingent: The Intersection of Academic Publishing and Game-Based Learning

Session leader: Robert Jordan

This session will introduce participants to the use of game-based learning in history classrooms via a hands-on exploration of Blood Contigent, an immersive gamified learning approach to the complex world of turn-of-the-century Mexico. Designed for undergraduate students in mid- to upper-level history courses, this game sets up the topic of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, by giving the background necessary to its struggles. The game demonstrates one way to help students tie game experience and game theory to a more critical understanding of historical context and significance by utilizing Stephen Neufeld’s 2017 monograph, The Blood Contingent: The Military and the Making of Modern Mexico, 1876–1911, side by side with a game based on the issues and themes in the monograph.

Session participants, grouped into teams, will take on different historical identities of factions from the chronological period described in The Blood Contingent, competing for control of resources, expanding their territorial control, and plotting the downfall of their political enemies. Gameplay is advanced through the individual completion (simulated for workshop purposes) of traditional research assignments, requiring reading, understanding, analysis, and arguing of their position, all in an attempt to gain a greater understanding of their historical character’s perspective. These individual assignments are scored, given numerical point values, and then those points can be utilized by various participant “teams” to gain greater control of the game board and the nation of Mexico. While the game for this session is specific to Mexico, participants can expect to learn how to combines roleplaying and board game elements, paying special attention to negotiation and diplomacy over tactics, in their own historical subfield. It is designed for 15-40 participants, and roles can be expanded as needed.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Introduction to Network Analysis

Session leader: Jason Heppler

This workshop emphasizes hands-on learning of working with network data and visualization. Historians working out the complex documentary relationships between people and institutions can often find surprising, or previously unexplored, connections by using network analysis and its visual representations. This workshop will help participants familiarize themselves with basic network-analysis vocabulary as well as using Gephi for network analysis and visualization. Attendees will need to bring their own laptops with Gephi installed.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Humans over Machines over Systems: Radical Collaboration in the 21st Century

Session Leaders: Jessica Johnson and Aleia M. Brown

What does it mean to collaborate on digital history projects in the 21st century where the average historian/user/audience is not a cis-het white middle-aged man? This workshop creates space for historians at all levels of digital expertise, including those who are university-affiliated and who are not, and who are of diverse and wide-ranging backgrounds, to explore what role collaboration, ethics, and justice play in our digital humanities work. Participants should be prepared to get uncomfortable and ask difficult questions about the work — seen and unseen — our projects do in the world. Attendees will explore a range of ethics and accountability strategies, and leave with a draft of at least one document for use in their own project (example: “Disclosure of Power and Privilege”). This workshop encourages participation from Black historians, historians of color, and queer historians, as well as historians in precarious positions in the academy (alt-academics, graduate students). Participation from historically minded persons who are not university-affiliated but may be interested in working with universities in the future (i.e. community centers, non-profits, grassroots organizations) is also encouraged. Please bring your own laptop or mobile device and an open mind. Presenters should bring a laptop and any notes on a current or future project they would like to collaborate on.

Expertise range:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

External Funding for Digital History: Who, What, Where, and Most Importantly, How

Session leader: Jennifer Serventi

So you have a digital project that’s just screaming for outside support? Whether it’s completely new or you’ve been kicking it around for a while, whether it’s scholarly, curricular or public-humanities oriented, this session will walk you through the process of effectively structuring the details for a grant designed to fund your digital project. From early-stage questions about collaboration and grant identification to mid-stage project management and overhead issues to end-stage sustainability after your grant completes, Jennifer Serventi will draw on her experience from the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities to help you craft a strong grant application. The session will be hands-on and much of it will be dedicated to your specific questions and discussion.

To prepare for the session, please bring an outline of your project and your laptop. You’ll also need to review the guidelines and supporting materials for the following funding opportunities:

Expertise range: Whether you are the digital expert for this project or you’re working with a digital expert on your project, this session will be of the most benefit to attendees who want to develop/revise a grant proposal for a specific digital project. Attendees with general grant-writing questions but no specific project in mind may find the session overly detailed. Jennifer and other NEH ODH program officers will be available to answer questions about general grant proposal issues throughout the AHA in the exhibit hall at the NEH booth.