Publication Date

February 1, 1999

Quite unexpectedly, this issue turned into a sequel to last year's special issue on the effect of the new information technologies on the practice of history.

As the surveys by the AHA and Dennis Trinkle of DePauw University indicate (see pages 5 and 31), e-mail, the World Wide Web, and a host of other technologies have penetrated into every facet of the historians work.

However, for many historians, the use of computers is s till largely limited to the function of a fancy typewriter-with email replacing the fading art of letter writing and word-processing functions greatly enhancing the number of drafts we feel obliged to produce. Nevertheless, as a number of the contributors to this issue demonstrate, these technologies can be exceptionally dynamic tools in other facets of the historian's craft.

Carl Schulkin of Pembroke High School (Kansas City, Missouri) and Joe Cain of University College London offer two assessments of the challenges involved in using computers in classroom teaching, on pages 11 and 25. While both find benefits to the use of the World Wide Web and CDROMs in the classroom, both note that to be effective it takes more work than a simple click of a mouse.

Lee Ann Potter of the National Archives describes some of the recent efforts to make the archives’ collections more useable as teaching tools (page 3). And William G. Thomas of the Virginia Center for Digital History discusses (on page 35) the Valley of the Shadow Project, which hung Godot—like over last year’s issue on technology—much discussed but due to an editorial oversight not quite making an appearance.

For the researchers in the profession, Nicholas Evan Sarantakes of Texas A&M University assesses some of the advantages the World Wide Web offers for the researcher (page 21), while Abby Smith of the Council for Library and Information Resources ponders the mixed costs and blessings of digitized archives and collections (page 39).

Lastly, the new AHA president, Robert Darnton, muses on the competing forces that are making it more difficult for scholars young and old to get their research published in monograph form (page 2). He hopes to start a conversation on the opportunities the new media provide for publishing new research.

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