Getting Started in Digital History 2019

For the sixth year in a row the AHA will be running the Getting Started in Digital History workshop immediately prior to the start of the meeting. The workshop brings historians with an interest in using digital tools and resources together with experts in a range of digital-history methodologies. This year will include hands-on sessions for people with wide range of levels of experience. Planned sessions cover public history, virtual history, network analysis, spatial history, crowdsourcing, understanding data, and several on using digital tools in the classroom. At lunch, we will also have a roundtable discussion on a range of topics in the digital humanities. Lunch will be provided for all attendees.

Thursday, January 3, 2019: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
Wabash Room (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)

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

Virtual History: An Introduction to Immersive Environments and 3D Simulation

Presenter: Austin Mason

Expertise Level: 3-7

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Description:3D modeling techniques and immersive environments like virtual and augmented reality are increasingly being used to record, reconstruct and present cultural heritage digitally to the public. Archaeologists are recording excavations with photogrammetry and making interactive models of their trenches and artifacts available in almost real time, while architectural and cultural historians are hand-modeling recreations of no longer standing buildings or procedurally generating entire ancient cities like classical Rome. This workshop will offer an introduction to the fundamentals of 3D technologies for historical research and dissemination. We will cover examples from current scholarship showing cutting edge use cases and introduce free and readily available software and resources for getting started creating virtual environments. Preparation: Attendees will need to bring their own laptops with internet access. Due to limited time, it would be helpful to download and preinstall the latest version of the Unity3D game engine (

Data Visualization

Presenters: Lauren Tilton & Taylor Arnold

Expertise Level: 4-8

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Description: The workshop introduces participants to the process of exploring historical data through visualizations. We begin by assessing several popular data visualizations. We then show how these can be reconstructed using the R programming language package ggplot2. Participants will be guided through constructing their own exploratory visualizations. The workshop concludes with a demonstration of how R can be used to work with geospatial data, network visualizations, interactive plots, and animated graphics. The workshop will be highly interactive and accessible to users with no prior R programming experience.

Using Clio in the Classroom

Presenter: David Trowbridge

Expertise Level: 2-5

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Description: Clio is a website and mobile application that connects thousands of people to nearby historical and cultural sites throughout the United States each day. The platform includes special features, instructional videos, and other resources that make it easy for professors to create individual entries and complete walking tours with their students. In addition to text and media, Clio entries include links to related articles, books, and digital projects. Hundreds of universities and organizations have created nearly 30,000 entries and over 350 walking tours. Clio entries can include links to related books and articles and even embed oral histories and videos that help the public understand the history of monuments, markers, museums, landmarks, and more. This public-facing digital humanities project is designed to teach students the skills of the historian while connecting the public to the work of historians. You can find more information about Clio from the National Humanities Alliance.

Small Teaching with Digital Tools

Presenter: Lindsey Passenger Weick

Expertise Level: 1-3

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Description:Excited about the possibilities of integrating digital tools into your classroom but not sure how or where to start? In this session, we will explore a range of tools you can incorporate digital tools and pedagogy into your today without needing to revamp your syllabus. We will experiment with web-based tools such as StorymapJS, Voyant, and TimelineJS. We’ll also discuss how starting small using these web-based tools in class will build your confidence in your digital pedagogy. Please bring an Internet-equipped laptop.

Teaching with Data: Collaborative Research in the Classroom

Presenters: Celeste Sharpe, Jeri Wieringa, and Erin Bush

Expertise Level: 2-6

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Description: Collaborative data work is an important means to teach students how to apply historical and critical thinking to the problems of data-driven analysis that increasingly shape 21st-century life. Transitioning from individual essays to collaborative, data-centered assignments is not straightforward and often benefits from re-considering sources, learning objectives, and modes of evaluation. This workshop provides an introduction to best practices for collaborative data gathering, creation, and management with students in the context of assignment design.

Participants will discuss two different categories of data assignments, working with existing datasets and creating datasets from primary sources, and will come away with strategies for implementing such assignments in their own courses. We will also discuss ways to extend data assignments into more complex tasks such as data visualization, composing data-driven essays, and contributing data to existing collections or projects. Please bring an Internet-equipped device.

Network Analysis: Uncovering the Invisible in Historical Research

Presenters: Tara Wood and Catherine Medici-Thieman

Expertise Level: 3-7

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Description: The developing field of network analysis has shown the power of this type of modeling for highlighting relationships, which can not only highlight the major actors, but also illuminate important, lesser known actors within networks. Network analysis algorithms allow examination of and focus on figures that may be important hubs or connectors in networks that have remained invisible or only hinted at with traditional methods. Network analysis methods reveal a wealth of data about individuals and their importance in a network based on their relationships using betweenness and eigenvector centrality measures. In addition, network analysis can expose the infrastructure of networks as well as the strength of ties between individuals in the network. Often, these methods can make the invisible, visible. This workshop will provide an introduction to these methods and provide hands-on experience to those interested in learning about the potential of network analysis.

History Harvest in the K-12 Classroom

Presenters: Sarita Garcia and Reed Underwood

Expertise Level: 4-6

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Description: In this workshop, historians will work toward conducting a “History Harvest”. The History Harvest is a community-based digital project that aims to invite community members to share their cultural and historical artifacts. Drawing on the experiences with the History Harvest at the university level, this workshop is aimed at conducting a harvest in the K-12 history classroom. You will learn how to outline goals, set up equipment, and use Omeka for cataloging, all tailored to the constraints typical in K-12 settings. Questions answered at this workshop include: How do we democratize history at the K-12 level, and how can we get students excited about history? How can we align a history harvest with state guidelines and curriculum in such a way that supports teachers?

Advanced Spatial History: Visualization and Analysis

Presenter: Daniel Story

Expertise Level: 4-8

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Description: Do you have some basic exposure to digital mapping but want to advance your skills? In this workshop we will use the web-based mapping tool ArcGIS Online to go a bit deeper. We will explore a range of visualization options—from heat maps to show density of points, to choropleths to show value ranges, to time animations to show change over time—as well as tinker with some of the ways you can share these maps through ESRI’s many web app options, including the powerful and engaging engine Story Maps. As time allows, we’ll also discuss things like data preparation and conversion, georectification, and creating maps for print publication. This session is valuable for both pedagogy and research but requires participants to be comfortable with spreadsheets and basic data sets. Participants looking for beginner mapping with minimal technical expertise should register for the Introduction to Spatial History.

Google Docs, YouTube, and Podcasts: A Crash Course in Collaborative Learning and Technology

Presenters: Ethan Hawkley, Tina Mitchell and Frederik Vermote

Expertise Level: 2-8

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Description: This workshop is designed to help teachers use technology to foster collaborative learning in their classes. Participants will be trained on using new technologies to (1) set up collaborative courses, (2) increase in-class engagement, and (3) involve students prominently in peer and self-evaluation. Training will include how Google Docs' functionality can help students engage more meaningfully with the material and with one another, how to use student-produced video assignments to create a lab-like learning environment, how to effectively utilize podcasts and YouTube videos, and how phones can direct student attention toward class content.

Crowdsourcing as Student-Sourcing: Using Zooniverse to Create Student-Engaged DH Projects

Presenter: Ed Gitre and Samantha Blickhan

Expertise Level: 6-9

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Description: Participants in this collaborative workshop will be introduced to online crowdsourcing projects, centered on The American Soldier in World War II, an interinstitutional, NEH-funded digital initiative built on the Zooniverse Project Builder, a free, do-it-yourself tool that allows anyone to build a crowdsourcing project from start to finish. Presently boasting a worldwide membership of 1.7 million registered volunteers, Zooniverse hosts projects from an array of disciplines, including history. Crowdsourcing a digital history project does more than allow small research teams or individual scholars to tackle projects that might include substantial historical collections and/or require significant human labor, such as transcribing handwritten texts. By reimagining crowdsourcing as "student-sourcing," historians can fluidly incorporate digital projects into their course offerings, uniting research with teaching while also eliminating the unnecessary boundaries we often create between our students and the wider public. This workshop will walk participants through the stages of conceptualizing, designing, testing, and implementing a digital crowdsourcing project, with a hands-on introduction to the Zooniverse platform. We will emphasize collaboration, the advantages of a phased project (with an eye toward securing potential funding), and ways that you can involve students in a digital initiative of your own making.

Collections as Data

Presenter: Kira Homo

Expertise Level: 3-7

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Description:The purpose of this workshop is to have a conversation about and provide some hands-on experience with 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 in computational ways, or that address those materials as data. The group will discuss some of the issues involved in "data wrangling" when working with historical collections. In addition, the group will examine 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. Participants should have a general familiarity with digital approaches to data, but in-depth knowledge or expertise is not required. All areas of specialty are welcome!