Archive for 2013

Position announcement: Wikipedia Affiliate, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Position announcement: Wikipedia Affiliate, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

In conjunction with The Wikipedia Library project, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University is seeking applicants for a “Wikipedia Affiliate.” This is an unpaid, year-long, remote research position beginning March 1, 2014 and ending February 28, 2015 that entitles the affiliate to full library privileges at George Mason University, including proxied access to all online materials to which the GMU Libraries subscribe: more than 400 databases, thousands of scholarly journals and mainstream periodicals, and hundreds of ebooks. The position is designed to give research library access to a Wikipedia editor who does not currently have such access or who has only limited access to scholarly resources: the purpose of the position is to help improve Wikipedia’s reliability and accuracy by providing Wikipedia editors with access to the best scholarly information resources while providing a model for other universities to do likewise.


The affiliate will be an experienced Wikipedia editor with at least one year of regular activity contributing to Wikipedia on historical topics in any field, region, or period. The affiliate will also be a thorough researcher who is committed to improving Wikipedia articles by consulting and citing reliable, scholarly sources and who is a lucid writer of text for Wikipedia encyclopedia articles on historical topics. An undergraduate or graduate degree in History, Art History, or a related discipline is desirable but not required.

Position Description and Duties

During the affiliate year, the affiliate will conduct scholarly research using the library resources of George Mason University with the aim of significantly improving the accuracy and reliability at least 25 Wikipedia articles on historical topics, preferably articles within a particular historical scope (for example: modern Russian and Soviet history, U.S. Civil War history, the history of late imperial China). Near the end of the affiliate year, the affiliate will write a brief report listing the Wikipedia articles he or she has contributed to and improved over the course of the year, describing how his or her access to GMU library resources has helped increase the reliability of Wikipedia on this topic and analyzing whether the affiliate program could serve as a model for other universities. The affiliate will also be asked to give a brief talk on the same subject to RRCHNM, either in person or via a remote technology such as Skype.

Application Instructions

To apply, please send the following documents to Dr. Amanda French at ude.u1416773048mg@5h1416773048cnerf1416773048a1416773048 by January 20, 2014:

1. A standard résumé or curriculum vitae that also includes

  • a link to your Wikipedia profile and
  • at least three links to Wikipedia articles on historical topics that you have contributed to.

2. A cover letter that includes

  • a description of your background, including why you contribute to Wikipedia and what level of historical expertise and interest you have in which fields, regions, or periods;
  • a summary of what access you currently have (or don’t have) to research materials such as databases and scholarly journals;
  • an explanation of why you want to become a Wikipedia Affiliate to RRCHNM; and
  • a brief outline of the historical topic(s) and/or specific Wikipedia articles you would focus on during your affiliate year.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of the search by the end of February 2014. The affiliate year will begin March 1, 2014.

About the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

Since 1994 under the founding direction of Roy Rosenzweig, the Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) 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. The center itself is a democratic, collaborative space where over fifty scholars, technologists, and researchers work together to advance the state of the art.

RRCHNM uses digital media and technology to preserve and present history online, transform scholarship across the humanities, and advance historical education and understanding. Each year RRCHNM’s many project websites receive over 20 million visitors, and over a million people rely on its digital tools to teach, learn, and conduct research.

George Mason University is a public research university located approximately 14 miles from Washington, D.C., with over 30,000 students. Global education and research are a fundamental part of the university’s mission to serve its diverse and international student body. RRCHNM is part of the Department of History and Art History.

About The Wikipedia Library

The Wikipedia Library connects Wikipedia editors with libraries, open access resources, paywalled databases, and research experts. We are working together towards 5 big goals that create an open hub for conducting research:

Connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources
Partner to provide free access to paywalled publications, databases, universities, and libraries
Build relationships among our community of editors, libraries, and librarians
Facilitate research for Wikipedians, helping editors to find and use sources
  • Promote broader open access in publishing and research

The Wikipedia Affiliate to RRCHNM position is based on the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar idea suggested by Peter Suber at the Harvard Open Access Project.

Celebrate 20 Years of RRCHNM in November 2014

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Plans are taking shape for the upcoming conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, November 14-­15, 2014. The conference will reflect the spirit of THATCamp: the first day will be spent hacking the history of RRCHNM, working collectively to tell the story of how projects were created and what they tell us about digital history’s past. The second day will feature short talks by invited guests, each followed by extended discussion, and unconference­-style breakout sessions.

We’re thrilled that Edward Ayers, Brett Bobley, and Bethany Nowviskie have agreed to share their thoughts on the future of digital humanities centers, while Tim Hitchcock, William Thomas, Kathryn Tomasek and a collective of GMU graduate students will offer visions of the future of digital history. We’re inviting all the fantastic folks who have worked with and at RRCHNM over the past two decades to celebrate with us.

You only turn 20 once, and we want to do this right. So, in 2014 we will focus on the 20th anniversary events. This means a hiatus for THATCamp Prime in 2014, but we’re already talking about ideas for 2015.

The 20th anniversary event is free and registration will open in early 2014. In the coming months, we will post additional information to the RRCHNM blog and tweet updates from @chnm, tagged #rrchnm20. We hope to see many of you in November.

Happy Anniversary, PressForward!

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Happy Anniversary, PressForward! Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation and based at George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, the PressForward project was born two years ago with a mission to showcase the varied, dynamic, and provocative digital humanities scholarship published on the open web. To do this, the project has developed and nurtured two publications: Digital Humanities Now (DHNow) and the Journal of Digital Humanities (JDH). Those periodicals work hand in hand to surface gray literature and, at the same time, act as an experiment in open access publication. DHNow, developed four years ago and then relaunched as part of the PressForward initiative, is now published twice a week. Three times a year, JDH publishes a volume of articles culled from the material surfaced through DHNow, conferences, and other little-noticed online sources.  In addition, PressForward has been working to develop the tools necessary to disseminate literature that benefits digital humanities communities. We’ve worked to put those tools in the hands of groups like dh+lib, and watched with excitement as their publications grew.

The result of these efforts is a community of participants and practitioners that offer their time and talents each and every week. JDH and DHNow represent the labors of 175 editors, 100 authors, and ten faculty and graduate student staff members. But this anniversary, we also want to celebrate the readers that come to our sites each and every day. In 2013 alone, DHNow has seen more than 320,00 visits and 834,000 page views. During the month of October, more than ten thousand unique visitors came to that site. Though it is published far less frequently, JDH has seen more than 127,000 visits this year, with more than 414,00 page views. In September, it was able to keep pace with DHNow, welcoming nearly ten thousand unique visitors. If our research reveals anything, it’s the vibrancy and generosity of digital humanities communities.

In celebration of those communities, this second anniversary will see the launch of an outreach campaign that will bring you more detail about our methods. We’ve already redesigned the DHNow website for easier reading and participation, particularly with a new Editors-at-Large Corner. Through blog posts like this one, we’ll be sharing our research and conclusions. And this spring, we’ll roll out the PressForward WordPress plugin, a tool designed to make the task of curating and aggregating gray literature easier and more accessible, in hopes that this is only the beginning of the projects and publications that PressForward makes possible.

Be sure to watch @pressfwd for project updates and check out @dhnow and @journalofdh to follow digital humanities scholarship!

THATCamp Leadership & participad | DH Fellow’s Blog

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Ben Hurwitz (2nd year Digital History Fellow)

On Thursday October 10, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and George Mason University welcomed DH’ers from around the globe to THATCamp Leadership 2013. For those of you who don’t know, THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) is an unconference series which was first held at George Mason in 2008. Since then, regional THATCamps have sprung up across the country and across several continents as well, hosted by universities or local DH communities.

THATCamp Leadership, generously sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was quite different from a typical THATCamp. The invitation-only event partnered experienced THATCamp facilitators with academic and institutional leaders to discuss the future of THATCamp and the Digital Humanities generally. As a result, there were very few tech-centered sessions. Instead, broader session titles like “Building DH Locally,” “Sustaining and Altering THATCamp,” and “Digital Humanities and Online Education” predominated.

In the spirit of collaboration, THATCamp Leadership 2013 debuted a cooperative “notepad” space for recording discussions. Using participad, a WordPress plugin, the DH fellows at CHNM created notepads for each sessions and served as dedicated note-takers. Participants could view and edit their sessions notepads, or view another session’s notepad in order to follow discussions elsewhere in the conference. While some participants preferred to tweet, take notes on paper, or just focus on listening, we did have some encouraging contributions which added to the richness of the record. To view our notes from all of the sessions, look here, and feel free to comment as well.

George Mason University is Hiring a Digital Historian

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The George Mason University, Department of History and Art History invites applications for a tenure-track position in Digital History at the rank of Assistant Professor. While the historical field is open, candidates must have the ability to teach digital theory and methods at the undergraduate and graduate level, including a graduate course in programming (PHP, Python, Perl, Javascript, XML, for example). The teaching load is 2-2. Ph.D. must be in hand by August 2014.

George Mason University is a public research university located 14 miles from Washington, D.C., with approximately 30,000 students. The Department of History and Art History has a strong record of scholarly research and is home to the award-winning Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. The department also has the largest M.A. program in the country and a nationally ranked Ph.D. program.

Special Instructions to Applicants
For full consideration, please apply for position number F5343z at Complete the online faculty application and upload a letter of interest, CV, and a writing sample and/or a link to a digital project. Letters of reference should be sent separately to Professor Paula Petrik, Chair, Digital History Search, Department of History and Art History, George Mason University, MSN 3G1, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030. Review of applications will begin on November 15, 2013, and continue until the position is filled.


PressForward Editors-at-Large | DH Fellow’s Blog

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Amanda Morton (2nd year Digital History Fellow)

This semester the second year Digital History Fellows are sticking with one of the three divisions at RRCHNM (Research, Education, Public Projects) and participating in selected projects within those divisions. Some of us are coming in at the start of a new set of projects, while others are joining projects already in progress. There’s a certain benefit, I think, to being able to join a project in mid-flow and provide both an extra pair of hands and the type of feedback that comes from a fresh look at ongoing processes. By essentially acting as full-time floaters, we can also lend work hours and a different set of opinions to changes already set in motion,

I’ve been assigned to the Research Division this semester, directed by Sean Takats, and am currently spending the majority of my time working under Joan Fragaszy Troyano on the PressForward project. This project received an influx of graduate research assistants this semester, most of whom were, like myself, new to the division and to PressForward, and needed to be introduced to the way the different parts of the project are managed, particularly the weekly management of Digital Humanities Now.

A PressForward publication, Digital Humanities Now is a community-driven aggregator that calls upon volunteers to nominate content, then curates and publishes the best blog posts and news stories coming out of the DH community. One element of the management equation for DHNow, the way Editors-in-Chief communicate with and organize information for the Editors-at-Large — volunteers who nominate content for Digital Humanities Now — needed to be re-worked and streamlined to accommodate the addition of several new Graduate Research assistants to the project. This effort was also undertaken with an eye toward making the management of Editors-at-Large easier to share with groups using DHNow as a model for their own projects.

As a DH Fellow I was able to lend a hand to this redesign, working alongside Jeri Wieringa, one of the original PressForward GRAs who has a great deal of experience working with Editors-at-Large and organizing the associated data. The redesign that launched at the end of September includes a new section of the DHNow website that we’ve called our “Editors’ Corner,” designed to help Editors-at-Large choose and nominate content using the PressForward plugin, keep track of the weeks they’ve volunteered to edit, and provide feedback on the entire process. The changes we’ve made also streamline the way the Editors-at-Large system works on the administration side, automating emails and organizing form data, as well as utilizing bulk-upload plugins to make new user creation for the DHNow site (required to allow Editors-at-Large to nominate items using the PressForward plugin) faster and easier to manage.

This streamlining involved a variety of adjustments to the existing processes, from simple changes like modifying the structure of the Editor-at-Large sign-up form to give each week its own column, to more complicated changes that involved writing and/or modifying Google Apps Scripts to automate informational emails and confirmation messages.

Additionally, we are in the process of creating sets of instructions for using this new system, as well as the portion of the DHNow site dedicated to Editors-at-Large (DHNow’s Editors-at-Large Corner), so that projects with similar requirements can adapt these techniques to their own needs. DHNow has and continues to rely on free and open access tools such as Google Spreadsheets and Forms, in addition to free WordPress plugins. Our goal in this is to enable other projects to easily access and adopt our processes for creating community run, aggregated publications.

In the end, we’ve created a system that we hope will be an accessible and easy to use example of how other groups or organizations might manage a similar project. I’m delighted to have had the chance to participate in this process, and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t volunteered to be an Editor-at-Large for DHNow to sign up now, and if you have, sign up again and check out the new Editors-at-Large Corner!

How can technology help teachers to teach historical and critical thinking? | DH Fellow’s Blogpost

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Amanda Regan (1st Year Digital history Fellow)

How can technology help teachers to teach historical and critical thinking?  Getting students to think critically about historical events rather than just memorizing the facts is challenging, but digital technology can help.  With so many new digital tools being developed each year, teachers are eager for resources to help locate free, quality tools that can help students become better critical thinkers and historians.

screen shot--teachinghistoryOne of the RRCHNM’s projects,, has a section called Digital Classroom devoted to providing tips and resources for incorporating digital tools into the classroom.  The introductory video for Digital Classroom explains how digital tools can engage students and help them to think critically about the past.  The goal of Digital Classroom is to provide teachers with resources to help them incorporate digital technology in their classroom and to provide examples of how to enhance learning by using technology in the classroom.

To help teachers find free, digital tools for use in social studies classrooms, Digital Classroom includes a collection of digital tool reviews, called Tech for Teachers.  Over the last week the Digital History Fellows have been researching and writing reviews for this section and we’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of digital tools are useful for teaching historical thinking skills in the classroom.

Tech for Teachers aims to provide detailed reviews of tools to help teachers evaluate ways in which it might be useful.  Each review provides an overview of what users will experience when they use the tool as well as what the most important or useful features might be.  Reviews generally include some examples or suggestions of ways that the tool is being used and may include examples of student work.  The goal of these reviews is not only to help teachers find digital tools but also to help them evaluate what the tool offers that makes it unique and useful for learning.

My Tech for Teacher’s review looked at a tool called myHistro which allows users to create “geolocated maps with a social twist.”  Timelines and maps are two tools that are commonly used to teach history.  However, now these tools have gone digital and several sites have created platforms that combine the two.  They allow users to create interactive stories that utilize timelines, maps, and multimedia such as videos and photos to tell a story.  Using these tools encourages students to think critically about historical events, their causes and effects, and how individual events culminate into a larger movement.

screen shot--myhistro

To help teachers see how students and teachers are using myHistro, I provided several examples and discussed how teachers might use this tool as either a presentation or as an assignment for students.  Many teachers are using myHistro as an assignment for group projects in which students create a story about the development of a historical event or movement.  One example is the student project, Road to the Civil War, where students created a story composed of the events that they thought led to the Civil War.  Beginning with the Louisiana Purchase and ending with the election of Lincoln in 1860, the students reflected on each event and wrote a synopsis about why each event led to the Civil War.  Another example is a collaborative AP U.S. History project where each student added an event related to their curriculum.  The story was then a review source that included all the major events the class had discussed and could be used to help study for the AP exam.

While researching and writing my Tech for Teachers review, I learned a lot about how K-12 teachers are using technology to teach historical thinking in the classroom.  One thing that I took away is that integrating technology into the classroom is a complicated process. Guiding students to use a digital tool in a way that will improve upon traditional ways of teaching history requires a great deal of planning.  I came to appreciate how much thought and critical evaluation is necessary for digital tools to be used effectively in a classroom setting.  Good history teaching is first and foremost based on good historical thinking skills.  Digital tools and technology help to guide, challenge, and engage students but they don’t do that on their own.  The technology must be paired with teaching skills to critically engage history.

How It’s Made: Public History Projects | DH Fellow’s Blogpost

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Spencer Roberts (2nd Year Digital history Fellow)

In a recent conversation, a friend inquired about the projects on which I am working here at the RRCHNM. I explained that I am currently assigned to a project about the War of 1812 on behalf of the National Park Service, and described the basic elements of the project. “I understand the project,” she replied, “but what do you actually do?”

Our exchange illuminated an issue that seems obvious but is rarely addressed: the average American is told little about the work that goes into producing public history or heritage projects. Although such projects and exhibits dot the social landscape in parks, museums, galleries, libraries, books, and the web, the processes of preserving, interpreting, and presenting the past are largely hidden from users. In response to these observations, I’d like to describe some of work done by researchers to produce public history projects.

Each project taken on by the RRCHNM staff has unique characteristics that shape the processes by which it is built, but some projects inevitably require similar constructions. The September 11 Digital Archive, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, and other projects all required a platform to host large collections of digital materials; as a result, development staff spent time designing databases, interfaces, and processes that ensure effective and efficient preservation and presentation of archived material. The results of that work are usually invisible to the user, hidden in the background or simply presented without loud attribution. A project without visible seams will cause fewer inquiries about its design.

One answer to these recurring needs is Omeka, a “free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions.” Many projects are built upon the foundations provided by the Omeka platform, and staff now spend more time customizing the visual, functional, and historical components of these sites. Additionally, researchers spend some of their time testing the updates for upcoming versions of Omeka, which improves subsequent projects at the center, but also supports users of Omeka who build projects at other institutions and centers. The work of the public projects division at RRCHNM has increasingly been expanded to include both production of projects and resources for building.

Another major task for public projects is historical interpretation and representation. For the War of 1812 project, for instance, our research team is not designing a new site for hosting a collection; we are, instead, designing historical content and packages that fit into the existing NPS structures. Given specific functional and presentational limitations, we brainstormed ways in which we could shape the experience of users and best represent the complexities of a little-known war. In some ways, this project is a sober reminder of the restrictions often placed on researchers in a field with limited funding, few resources, and overextended staff. Not every project can afford to build a new site, create a new archive, or even redesign the look of existing sites. In these cases, researchers must be innovative within constraints.

The specific tasks for researchers vary across different projects. In some cases, they must double-check the transcriptions provided by volunteers, ensuring accuracy despite limited resources. At times, they might write brief historical summaries for virtual exhibits, enabling tourists to glimpse the unknown past of a battlefield or National Mall. Recently, I have been finding evidence about individuals who lived during the War of 1812 and whose stories will illustrate some of the historical arguments we have chosen to present. We believe that the stories of a war widow, a deserter, a politician, a nurse, a soldier, a surgeon, or a traitor can help illuminate the past, and provide a basis from which to build an interpretation of the events and decisions of that time.

To return to our question at the outset, researchers on public history projects (and in many areas) might easily have a different task each day and may never repeat those tasks. Describing what researchers do is difficult because it changes regularly; describing what researchers have done provides typical examples and possibilities. More important than asking what, however, is asking how. In all tasks, researchers use critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and other scholarly skills to ensure that their product meets the standards expected by their peers and the public. For graduate students, observing how research is conducted in each task is the most important lesson.

Getty Foundation Funds a Digital Humanities Summer Institute for Art Historians at RRCHNM

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

The Getty Foundation recently awarded the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media a grant to organize and run a digital humanities summer institute for art historians in 2014. “Digital Humanities for Art Historians” will target art historians, from graduate students, to mid-career and senior scholars, from varied backgrounds, including faculty, curators, and established art librarians and archivists who are eager to move more deeply into the digital turn in the humanities.

Recognizing a significant need in this area, the Getty Foundation is sponsoring this project as part of a pilot initiative to support training workshops in digital art history. The Getty Foundation fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world.

Project Co-Directors, Sheila Brennan and Sharon Leon are thrilled to be working with the Getty Foundation for the first time through this initiative and to be addressing issues specific to art historians together with fellow members of GMU’s History and Art History Department.

Applications for this summer institute will be announced in early 2014. Watch the RRCHNM blog, @chnm on Twitter, and major art history-related listservs for the call.

The Challenges of Making a Challenge | DH Fellow’s Blogpost

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Anne McDivitt (1st year Digital History Fellow)

For the past few weeks at the Center for History and New Media, my fellow first year Digital History Fellows and myself were assigned to work in the Education division, which produces projects that are designed to teach history to a wide scope of people through various educational resources. While in the Education division, we have been working with a new web project meant to engage and educate the audience by allowing them to examine liberty in the United States in a new and interesting way. This is achieved by incorporating age and ability-appropriate “challenges” and access to primary documents and images. This project seeks an audience of teachers, K-12 students, as well as the general public.
There are intriguing methods in creating a challenge for students. While creating our own challenge for the project, there were multiple questions that we had to ask ourselves. First, what was the goal of the project? What did we want the students to achieve from doing the challenge? What skills would they use? In terms of examining the sources, we attempted to view them in an analytic manner, but with a basic guided direction so that the students do not get overwhelmed. We wanted the students to come away with an understanding of the importance of understanding not only the document itself, but also their context. By giving the students a choice of what documents they could utilize for their own project, it allows them to view our examples and use the skills they gained to create an interesting project from their understanding.
Although this project has yet to publicly launch, I have been testing the website from multiple angles to ensure that it will work properly for the end users. This has certainly been a fun process for me, as I have had to work as both a teacher and a student! This meant that I had to get myself into a mindset of, “if I were in tenth grade, how would I have completed this assignment? What did I know? What did I not know?” It was also quite engaging to utilize the primary documents and photographs in conjunction with the provided tools to create interesting projects with the website. I would imagine that K-12 aged students would also find this to be quite exciting, but I also think that it would be a fun experience for teachers who are designing challenges for their students, as well. I know all of the DH Fellows that worked on this project took our assignments very seriously beyond just the testing phase, as we worked for hours to perfect our challenge assignments!

Archives by Year:


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

Featured Project is the central online location for accessing high-quality resources in K-12 U.S. history education. Explore the highlighted content on our homepage or visit individual sections for additional materials.