Archive for 2004

CHNM celebrates 10th anniversary

Thursday, December 30th, 2004

chnm-blogo-final.jpg From its humble origins in the mind “and on the personal computer” of a single historian at George Mason University to its current place as one of the most respected and visited Internet sources for history with nearly ten million visitors a year, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) is proudly celebrating its tenth anniversary. Almost as old as the Web itself, since 1994 CHNM has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history – to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past.

See for the full press release.

CHNM Director recognized for “excellence in the humanities”

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

In a ceremony held December 9, 2004 at Old Town Hall in Fairfax, Virginia, CHNM Director, Roy Rosenzweig was presented with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ Award for Excellence in the Humanities. The award recognizes citizens whose work – both professional and volunteer – has significantly benefited Virginians, and whose efforts embody the Virginia Foundation mission “to develop the civic, cultural, and intellectual life of the Commonwealth by creating learning opportunities for all Virginians – to bring the humanities fully into Virginia’s public life, assisting individuals and communities in their efforts to understand the past, confront important issues in the present, and shape a desirable future.” One of six recipients this year, Rosenzweig was singled out for the work he has done in the creation and development of CHNM and for his standing as a pioneer in the use of emerging technologies for the research, study, and teaching of history.

Download the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ press release.

Echo expands to include Collecting and Tools Centers

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

CHNM announces the launch of the new Echo Collecting Center and Tools Center, which join the Research Center and Resource Center to make Echo the most comprehensive website for collecting and presenting the history of science, technology, and industry online. The Collecting Center provides annotations and links to all the websites collecting history online and offers a Practical Guide to creating and managing online surveys. The Tools Center offers a collaborative directory of tools applicable to the practice of digital history, including CHNM’s own suite of tools that help teachers, students, and researchers to find, create, and manage digital materials.

Since 2001, Echo has used the Internet to collect and present the recent history of science, technology, and industry. As a laboratory for experimentation in this new and unperfected field, it has, among other objectives, worked to foster communication and dialogue among historians, scientists, engineers, doctors, and technologists. It also hosts free workshops and offer free consultation services to assist other historical practitioners in launching their own websites. In addition, Echo provides a centralized guide and portal for those seeking websites on the history of science and technology. This guide helps researchers find the exact information they need while also granting curious browsers a forum for exploration. Echo has been funded by two generous grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has been a leader in using the Internet to study, document, and present the past innovatively and rigorously.

Roy Rosenzweig discusses digital preservation in Investors Business Daily

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004


NOVEMBER 9, 2004

Academics are creating repositories of information in cyberspace – and making the ivory tower more democratic in the process.

Preserving endangered languages is one example. Researchers look to catalog languages that are rarely spoken, so that the tongues won’t be lost to the

“People whose languages have ceased to be spoken have come to appreciate them afterward,” said Doug Whalen, a linguistics researcher at Haskins Laboratories, affiliated with Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

A record of the language, particularly a spoken record, is invaluable – especially if a tongue is disappearing.

Whalen says efforts to revive languages can be difficult because the communities that spoke them – mostly indigenous peoples – are often scattered.

Online access to materials is critical for academics studying languages and people who are trying to recover lost languages, he says.

The University of California, Berkeley, is working to get its endangered-language print and audio archives online for that reason.

Preserving languages has a huge societal benefit, according to Leanne Hinton, head of UC Berkeley’s linguistics department. The alternative would lead to losses at many levels, she says. “When we lose a language in the world, we’re losing a lot more than a set of words,” Hinton said.

Grammatical systems, thought systems and knowledge systems all disappear.

At least half the world’s 6,700 languages are endangered, Hinton says.

American Indian languages, which have dwindled from 300 to 175, are a case in point.

UC Berkeley has a century’s worth of endangered language archives collected by anthropologists and linguists. Until now, accessing them meant going to the campus or requesting that copies be put in the mail.

Recent federal and private grants will let the university digitize the materials, making them accessible to anyone interested.

Berkeley will get help developing digitization methods from the San Francisco-based Rosetta Project, cyberspace’s largest language archive.

The Rosetta Project includes written examples of languages, audio files, and grammar and sound descriptions in languages ranging from Apache to Zulu.

At last count, it had 1,761 languages online – and plans to add the rest.

The project hopes to get contributions from academic researchers and members of endangered-language communities.

Laura Buszard-Welcher is curator of the ambitious effort, which has $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.

The goal of digital archiving is to have materials where people can get to them, she says. That means they aren’t collecting dust in a professor’s office.

In her office, Buszard-Welcher has stacks of material made by missionaries cataloging the language of the Potawatomi – a tribe in the Midwest, Great Lakes region and Canada.

She spent years working with tribal elders making audio recordings and creating a dictionary and written grammar of the Potawatomi language.

“The result of it is that I have a rather huge collection of materials sitting in my home office,” rather than having it available for the world to see, Buszard-Welcher said.

That’s the way it is for many linguists, but it’s a practice that needs to change, Buszard-Welcher says.

Linguistics isn’t the only discipline redefining itself via the Web.

George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., is making history in cyberspace.

Academics there have collected 150,000 online “objects” from ordinary people – including stories, e-mails, audio recordings, PDF files and images – about Sept. 11, 2001.

The project, called the Sept. 11 Digital Archive, will go to the Library of Congress. The work is managed by the university’s Center for History and New Media.

It’s democratic in a broad sense, says Roy Rosenzweig, the center’s director.

“We’re making these primary materials of history available to people across the country,” he said.

The Sept. 11 Digital Archive lets ordinary people – not just historians – write history, Rosenzweig says.

Projects such as George Mason’s were considered on the academic fringe just five years ago, but are becoming more common, he says.

They share similarities with the tech world’s open-source movement, Rosenzweig says.

In open source, any and all contributors can make additions to freely available software code. The Linux operating system is the most famous example.

Those in the humanities are taking note, Rosenzweig says.

“It’s partly because we’re not really in business,” he said. “Our business is the social good.”

That’s what makes open source an attractive concept, he says.

“A model of giving things away, of participation, is a very appealing one,” Rosenzweig said.

CHNM to build database for National Museum of American Jewish History

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

CHNM has been awarded a contract build a custom collections management system for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The new system will allow NMAJH researchers working at museums and historical societies around the nation to upload and organize images and information about collections of American Judaica via a web-based interface. NMAJH will use the system to create comprehensive database of artifacts from American Jewish history in preparation for a planned new permanent exhibition.

CHNM to build custom software tools for NEH’s Edsitement portal

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

In partnership with the City University of New York’s City College and the American Social History Project, and with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for History and New Media is proud to annouce the launch of a new project called Lessons of History.

CHNM has been awarded nearly $150,000 to build three new software tools for the NEH’s EDSITEment web portal, including a “Text Collection and Annotation Tool,” an “Image Collection and Annotation Tool,” and an “Image Manipulation Tool.” These tools will be integral parts of the Lessons of History project, which will also include student interactive activities and lesson plans. The tools will enable the project’s focus on facilitating the close reading of important documents, visual and textual, of the American political past. Students will use these tools to gather and then closely analyze the online historical documents creating knowledge with the materials of history. The tools will allow for the modeling of good practice by educators as well as the creation of new knowledge by students.

The Lessons of History tool-building project leverages CHNM’s substantial experience in providing guides to how historians analyze evidence such as photographs or maps. For example, on the website History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, CHNM and ASHP have developed Making Sense of Evidence“, which provides strategies for analyzing online primary materials, with interactive exercises and a guide to traditional and online sources. The Lessons of History tools will also build on CHNM’s standing as a pioneer in designing interactive tools for academic purposes. Here CHNM has developed several highly successful free digital tools for historians and history teachers. For example, CHNM’s history note-taking database Scribe has been downloaded by more than 6,000 people and has been recommended in a number of guides to doing historical work. Similarly, CHNM’s Syllabus Finder has been used over 200,000 times, and about 1,500 people use the CHNM’s Web Scrapbook, Survey Builder, and Poll Builder.

Digital Tools for the Humanities: What’s Being Developed? What is Needed?

Monday, October 18th, 2004

This fall’s Washington DC Area Forum on Technology and the Humanities focuses on “Digital Tools for the Humanities: What’s Being Developed? What is Needed?”

Our panelists are David Greenbaum and Raymond Yee from the University of California Berkeley’s Interactive University Project, Susan Schreibman and Amit Kumar from the University of Maryland’s Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and Dan Cohen from George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media (CHNM). All of the panelists have developed interesting new tools for scholars and students in the humanities, which they will demonstrate.

We will meet on Wednesday, October 27th from 4:00-6:00 PM at GMU’s Student Union Building II, rooms 5 & 6. There will be an informal dinner (Thai food) after the forum, at a cost of $10 per person. You must RSVP online for dinner by 22 October at

Co-sponsored by the Center for History & New Media (CHNM) at GMU and the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown, the DC Area Technology and Humanities Forum explores important issues in humanities computing and provide an opportunity for DC area scholars interested the uses of new technology in the humanities to meet and get acquainted.

You can find directions to GMU at (This includes directions to the CUE Bus, which goes from the Vienna Metro Stop to the Campus.) Parking information is at And a campus map is at

Digital preservation grant includes CHNM

Monday, October 4th, 2004

In partnership with colleagues at the University of Maryland and the Internet Archive, CHNM has received an award from the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program to build upon work done in connection with its Business Plan Archive, a two-year-old initiative to preserve records from the historic dot-com era of the late 1990s. Currently the Business Plan Archive contains business plans, marketing plans, technical plans, venture presentations, and other business documents from more than 2,000 failed and successful Internet start-ups. As part of the Library’s national digital preservation strategy, the new grant will help CHNM and its partners expand this collection to include a vast collection of legal documents as well as the personal narratives of entrepreneurs, employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and others touched by this historic period.

Press Archive -

Information Week

Mason Gazette

Internet News

Now on shelves: History Matters: A Student Guide to U.S. History

Friday, September 24th, 2004

History Matters: A Student Guide to U.S. History Online
Alan Gevinson, Kelly Schrum, Roy Rosenzweig

Based on the award-winning website History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, which is a joint project of CHNM and the American Social History Project at the CUNY Graduate Center, this unique resource pairs an annotated guide to 250 of the most useful U.S. history websites for student research. An introduction helps students find, evaluate, and use online sources independently. Intended for the experienced Web surfer and the novice alike, the introduction encourages the development of good research habits through discussion of primary and secondary sources, tips on evaluating website content, and advice on electronic source citation and avoiding plagiarism. The rest of the volume provides chronologically arranged starting points for Internet research, directing students to document, audio, video, and image collections for authoritative and reliable investigation. Sites cover a broad range of political, social, and cultural sources from early Native American legal cases, to Civil War photographs, to Jazz Age African American sheet music. A substantive review of each featured website identifies research topics best served by the site, and select illustrations depict what students will find. Indexes by subject and by medium help students locate appropriate websites for specific projects.

History Matters: A Student Guide to U.S. History Online is now available for purchase at Amazon

New Echo website launched

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

Echo: Exploring and Collecting History Online – Science, Technology, and Industry ( announces the launch of its redesigned, expanded, and improved website. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Echo provides the most comprehensive portal for the history of science on the Web, including a searchable guide to more than 5,000 websites on the history of science, technology, and industry, as well as website reviews and annotations, and the latest science news. Echo also hosts free workshops, offers free consultation services to assist other historical practitioners in launching their own websites, and provides a free practical guide to doing online history.

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Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. We sponsor more than two dozen digital history projects and offer free tools and resources for historians. Learn More

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