Download the support document for this session
Since I’m leading the Digital Research segment at the WHA, I thought I’d briefly outline what I intend to discuss and solicit your feedback.
General digital research resources:
- Google Books
- Google Scholar
- Western History resources
- Adding items to a library
- Adding footnotes to a document via Zotero
- Creating a bibliography
Specific Digital Tools for research
- Blogging (as a research journal)
3 Replies to “Digital Research at the WHA”
Greetings! I’m a PhD candidate in Public History at Arizona State University, and there’s no doubt in my mind that my computer will be my constant companion in my post-doc career. Email and (yes, it’s true) Facebook are indispensable for water-cooler conversations with colleagues all over the world, and as much as I love spending time in an archive or library, the internet is now the first place I go to begin research. Working and researching in digital environments also gives me the freedom to be untethered from any particular physical location. I find I rather like that.
In response to the question about favorite resources, I am currently and happily paying for newspaperarchive.com, which has become a crucial research tool for my dissertation. The ability to word-search newspapers yields a great deal more information, particularly about women, than the scanning of headlines on microfilm ever could. For one, headlines can be inaccurate and often don’t reflect everything in the story. For another, the society pages — the part of a newspaper ignored by earlier historians because of their supposed lack of depth (the society pages, not necessarily the historians!) — have proven to be immensely rich sources about women’s political and business activities. Until the digitization of newspapers, those pages were almost impossible to process.
In addition to using online newspapers for research, I’m also responsible for building and maintaining a website for a small historic preservation group. It has occurred to me that such websites might present a revenue-generating opportunity for associations like WHA. Currently, this group is paying Intuit to host the site and for the use of Intuit’s proprietary website software; I’m sure they’d much rather be affiliated with WHA or AASLH or NCPH or some other entity that better understands the needs and interests of a nonprofit history organization. Providing website construction and hosting might also be attractive to independent historians, too, who need to showcase and sell their services. Having called Intuit’s help line more than once, however, I understand that this suggestion is complicated. As someone else pointed out, digital history often requires collaboration. Partnerships with or assistance from larger organizations can be immensely helpful for independent historians and small history groups who don’t enjoy the affiliation with a university IT department and are trying to merge onto the cyberhighway.
As an advanced novice, I’m looking forward to tracking this blog and participating in next week’s workshop!
I’d be curious what your thoughts are about the resources described in DiRT (https://digitalresearchtools.pbworks.com/). I love my handy-dandy little program Examine32, which though PC-only, takes my keyworded paragraphs from countless Word files and brings together, say, all references to LINC and lets me then have a starting place for a Lincoln chapter.
This, and the all-files-held-together-in-one-big-database, have been my main objections to Zotero, Filemaker, etc. to date… Thoughts? Happy to hear them in Incline Village, too…
I’m actually re-thinking this session a bit based on some preliminary feedback. The last 20 minutes I think we’ll do an “open-mic” session where attendees can briefly share (1min or less) their fav digital research tips. I’ll take notes and create a blogpost out of what’s shared.
So…if you plan to attend the workshop, please come ready to share some information about your favorite tool.