Historical Research in the Digital Age

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The National Archives will no longer take records in paper after December 31, 2022.

Over at The Conversation, historian Ian Milligan reflects on what this might mean.  Here is a taste of his piece “Historians’ archival research looks quite different in the digital age“:

As I’ve argued in my recent book History in the Age of Abundance, digitized sources present extraordinary opportunities as well as daunting challenges for historians. Universities will need to incorporate new approaches to how they train historians, either through historical programs or newly-emerging interdisciplinary programs in the digital humanities.

The ever-growing scale and scope of digital records suggests technical challenges: historians need new skills to plumb these for meaning, trends, voices and other currents, to piece together an understanding of what happened in the past.

There are also ethical challenges, which, although not new in the field of history, now bear particular contemporary attention and scrutiny.

Historians have long relied on librarians and archivists to bring order to information. Part of their work has involved ethical choices about what to preserve, curate, catalogue and display and how to do so. Today, many digital sources are now at our fingertips — albeit in raw, often uncatalogued, format. Historians are entering uncharted territory.

Read the entire piece here.

2 thoughts on “Historical Research in the Digital Age

  1. As a one who prefers reading from print on paper to reading on a screen and would rather see an actual newspaper or magazine current with an historical event than a digital copy, this concerns me. Print and paper seem so much more real.

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