New Course in General History

Digital History

Computing technology and digital applications have changed the way that professional historians practice their craft. Thanks to digitization efforts, many archives and books are accessible to scholars and the public alike from the comfort of their homes. Tools such as MapScholar or Neatline enable us to geo-reference historic maps and use timelines to tell visual narratives of our spatial past. The relatively low cost of digital editing tools makes possible new documentary editing projects once unthinkable in the days of letterpress editions. Smartphone apps permit us to take walking tours of lost landscapes. And linked-open data enables us to created sophisticated databases that bring together historical figures and their experiences in new and compelling ways.

This course offers graduate and undergraduate students in the humanities and computer sciences the opportunity to produce scholarship using digital technology. We will spend as much time thinking about why and how we should use technology to advance our knowledge of the past as we will be using digital tools to do so.

The course will also expose students to professional development opportunities and career options in digital history specifically and the digital humanities more generally.

Weekly readings will include works on digital history methodology as an emergent “field.” We will also evaluate examples of digital historical scholarship, including cartography projects, documentary-editing projects, digital archives, and the tools used to create them. Along the way students will have the opportunity to develop a familiarity with a variety of tools and practices as they think about how digital technology does or can shape their own research interests.  Guest speakers will visit to discuss their own experiences with these issues.

Both undergraduate and graduate students will complete several written reflective assignments, write a professional review of a digital project, and make small (but meaningful) contributions to existing digital projects.

Undergraduate students will work closely with the instructors to create a final digital project. Graduate students will work with the instructors to pursue a final project that benefits their M.A. or Ph.D. theses. 

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts