The University of Pennsylvannia Press has just published Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web by Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig. Cohen is Director of Research Projects at the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and Rosenzweig is Director and founder of CHNM. The book can be purchased online from Amazon but is also available for free on the CHNM website.
The book provides a plainspoken and thorough introduction to the web for historians – teachers and students, archivists and museum curators, professors as well as amateur enthusiasts – who wish to produce online historical work, or to build upon and improve the projects they have already started in this important new medium. It begins with an overview of the different genres of history websites, surveying a range of digital history work that has been created since the beginning of the web. The book then takes the reader step-by-step through planning a project, understanding the technologies involved and how to choose the appropriate ones, designing a site that is both easy-to-use and scholarly, digitizing materials in a way that makes them web-friendly while preserving their historical integrity, and how to reach and respond to an intended audience effectively. It also explores the repercussions of copyright law and fair use for scholars in a digital age, and examines more cutting-edge web techniques involving interactivity, such as sites that use the medium to solicit and collect historical artifacts. Finally, the book provides basic guidance on insuring that the digital history the reader creates will not disappear in a few years.
The book grows out of the work of the ECHO project, which has been generously supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.