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Digital History: Defined

Definition, Methods, Subfields, Examples, etc.

What is Digital History?

Digital history is history scholarship and teaching that engages self-consciously with digital media and computational methods. This engagement can generally be categorized in three ways:

  1. The use of digital tools and techniques to enhance and extend historical research and teaching. This includes
    • analysis and visualization of (usually) big data that are historically significant. The purpose is to discover large-scale trends in data that are usually textual, visual, spatial, numeric, and / or (social) network related. 
    • modeling, such as the digital representation of historical objects and environments in three dimensions or extended reality 
    • digitization / publishing, such as the creation of digital collections on the web
  2. The study of the history of digital media and communication technologies
  3. The creation of digital tools and techniques for history scholarship and teaching (such as software applications, algorithms, etc.)

This approach to history scholarship became increasingly prominent after 2000 to take advantage of the rise of big data and the ubiquity of digital media (such as inexpensive and powerful personal computing). Digital history seeks to integrate computational technology with history methods and materials to their mutual extension and advantage. 


Creative Commons License
This guide was created by Adam Mazel and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.