HST 306: Digital History

Class Meetings:
TR 9:50 – 11:40am
Everett Library,

Office Hours:
MWF 9 AM – Noon
Room 207

Links to the Class Schedule Below:

Project Due: Dec. 14 @ 11:59pm


Digital History equips students with digital tools for historical research.  Students explore a range of techniques to complement traditional methods of historical analysis, including the generation of chronological and geocoded data, data mining, and textual analysis.  Students apply these skills in the production and visualization of original historical content in a variety of digital formats.

Learning Objectives

  1. Frame data analytics questions and design appropriate methodology for authentic contexts.
  2. Apply methodology appropriate to a disciplinary context.
  3. Demonstrate skill in scientific computing. 
  4. Interpret and translate data into actionable ideas and communicate them visually, orally, and in writing. 
  5. Evaluate implications associated with the pervasive creation and use of data. 

Required Reading

Students will not have to purchase any books for this course. All readings for this course will be provided via Zotero, which all Digital History students will be required to download. Zotero is a citation management software with expansive features for managing research. So students must download zotero and can do so here.

Students must purchase a Reclaim Hosting (reclaimhosting.com) subscription ($35) to host their digital presence and post each practicum in blog form. We will review this subscription and how to set up WordPress on the platform in the first week of class.


  1. Participation (15%):
    • Since this class is predicated on class discussion, participation is central to the learning environment. I will take class attendance each day. Each day of class will receive a grade. If you attend, you will start with an 85. Participating improves that grade. Behavior detrimental to the learning environment (for example, using your phone, using your computer for activities unrelated to the class, any other activities that distract other students, or being generally disruptive) will reduce that grade. After two absences, not attending class will receive a zero for that day. I will also provide excused absences if you let me know that you will be absent before class. I will provide an alternative assignment that you can complete to receive full credit. If you are sick, e-mail me before class, and I will provide this assignment. Do not come to class sick.
  2. Four Blog posts (10% each):
    • Digital History Students will complete four assignments on their website as blog posts. These posts will discuss their embedded or pasted screenshots of their work for that week with a discussion of their thoughts on the process, their successes, and their struggles.
    • Database practicum: build a simple database for your project and visualize the data in Tableau.
    • Text analysis practicum: Use Voyant for textual analysis on a group of texts related to your topic.
    • Spatial History Practicum: build a Knight Lab Story, a Palladio Network Graph, or a Palladio Spatial visualization.
    • Omeka practicum: build a simple Omeka site and link to it from your blog.
  3. Final Project (30%):
    • Each Digital History student will produce an independent project answering a historical question of their choosing that will include two of the digital methods explored in this course. It should be a minimum of 2000 words. Along with the final project, each student will post a process paper on their website that catalogs the process of producing the project itself. The process paper should describe the challenges or complications the student faced in organizing the data, creating the visualization, etc. The final project will be posted on their website.
    • The project can be produced in one of two frameworks: WordPress or Omeka. Make sure to understand the genre of the framework. For instance, Omeka is designed for digital exhibitions. If you use Omeka, that is included as one of your two tools. If you use WordPress, you need to include two other tools in the project. These tools could be a database and Tableau visualizations or a Knight Lab Storymap and Voyant text analysis.
  4. Presentation (15%):
    • Each student will present their final project on one of the last two days of class. The project, at this point, is expected to be incomplete but in the final stages of completion. This presentation should do three things: 1) indicate the argument or goal of the project, 2) indicate the tools you used and how the helped you accomplish that goal, and 3) indicate where you think your successes and struggles with the project lay. The class will then provide feedback to help you as you finish your project.

Classroom Expectations

Students should arrive at class on time and use their computers and devices appropriately. Unless absolutely necessary for in-class learning activities, cell phones should be put away for the duration of the class.

This class is designed to facilitate discussion and foster skills requiring sustained interaction with the instructor and peers. As a result, attendance is mandatory for all set meetings. Since discussion is an essential component of the class, students are expected to actively participate and engage other students and their opinions with dignity and respect. Students are expected to maintain a level of respect for the instructor and fellow students at all times, including using respectful language.

Students are expected to use non-racist, non-sexist, and gender-inclusive language. Racially charged language will not be permitted in the class. Historians often study periods that used racially charged language, and it is vital that if we reproduce that language, we do so sensitively and with respect and consideration to the victims of the language of the time and our peers in the present.

Similarly, language is gender-inclusive and non-sexist when we use words that affirm and respect how people describe, express, and experience their gender. Just as sexist language excludes women’s experiences, non-gender-inclusive language excludes the experiences of individuals whose identities may not fit the gender binary and/or who may not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Identities, including trans, intersex, and gender-queer, reflect personal descriptions, expressions, and experiences. Gender-inclusive/non-sexist language acknowledges people of any gender (for example, first-year student versus freshman, chair versus chairman, humankind versus mankind, etc.). It also affirms non-binary gender identifications and recognizes the difference between biological sex and gender expression. Students, faculty, and staff may share their preferred pronouns and names, and these gender identities and gender expressions should be honored.

Late Work

I offer one (1) no-questions-asked forty-eight (48) hour extension on any assignment (not including the final, final essay, or final project) as long as the following conditions as long as the student requests an extension twenty-four (24) hours before the deadline. Extensions will not be considered under any other situation unless the student provides documentation.

Under all other situations, late work will be reduced by five (5) points immediately and an additional five (5) points for every week it is late. In other words, an essay that receives a 95, will be bumped down to a 90 if it is late by one day and will received the same grade until day six (6). On day seven (7), the grade will be reduced to an 85. On day fourteen (1`4), the grade will be reduced to an 80.

In the event of serious emergency, however, please notify me as soon as possible so that alternative arrangements can be made is appropriate.

If this course extra credit, I do not accept any extra credit if it is late.

Honor Code

Every student is expected to produce their own work based on their own ideas and cite anyone else’s ideas or words appropriately. Certain material that an average person would consider common knowledge does not need to be cited. Such information would include that Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 or that the American Revolution began in 1776. Other information, however, needs to be cited if it did not originate in your mind. See the Queens Library’s page on plagiarism: https://library.queens.edu/plagiarism/.


Queens uses a plus/minus grade scale: B- receives less than 3 points, for instance. Grades in this class will follow the same pattern with one exception. Here are the numeric grades associated with each letter grade:

  • A = 90-100
  • B+ = 89-87
  • B = 86-83
  • B- = 82-80
  • C+ = 79-77
  • C = 76-73
  • C- = 72-70
  • D+ = 69-67
  • D = 66-60
  • F = 59-0

Notice a couple inconsistencies. One, I do not give an A-. In my experience, most As in my class are in the A- scale, so I treat them as complete As. If you got an A, you deserved it without qualification. Also, there is not a D-. This difference is because Queens does not include a D-.

The Honor Code

The Honor Code, which permeates all phases of university life, is based on three fundamental principles. It assumes that Queens students: a) are truthful at all times, b) respect the property of others, and c) are honest in tests, examinations, term papers, and all other academic assignments. Please contact the Instructor if you believe a violation of the Honor Code has occurred. It is a violation of the Honor Code for a student to be untruthful concerning the reason for a class absence. See The Honor Code Book for more information on the process in the event of a suspected violation.

Student Accessibility Services

Queens University of Charlotte is committed to making reasonable accommodations to assist students with disabilities. If you have a disability which may impact your performance, attendance or grades in this course and require accommodations, you must first contact Student Accessibility Services at sashelp@queens.edu. The steps for receiving accommodations must be completed before accommodations can be given. The steps are available on the Student Accessibility Homepage. SAS is responsible for coordinating classroom accommodations and other services for students with disabilities. Please note that students are responsible for sharing their letter of accommodation with their instructors to receive classroom accommodations.

Student Complaint Process

Queens University of Charlotte is committed to providing an educational climate that is conducive to the personal and professional development of each individual. To ensure that commitment, the university has developed procedures for students to pursue grievances within the university community should such action become necessary. A student who has an unresolved disagreement or dissatisfaction with a faculty or staff member, another student, a student group, or an administrator has the right to file a written complaint without prejudicing his or her status with the university. For more information, please visit the Student Complaint Process page. For information regarding the online student complaint process, please visit
the online student complaint process page.


QAlert is the emergency notification system Queens uses to notify the campus community of an emergency, inclement weather, or class cancellations. It sends messages about the status of a given situation, as well as other details the campus needs to know. Students, faculty, and staff are automatically registered for QAlert through the university’s enterprise resource.

Religious Holidays

If any assignments or due dates interfere with your personal religious observation, I will be happy to make accommodations. Remember, within the first two weeks of the semester, the student must let me know the dates of major religious holidays on which the student will be absent or unavailable due to religious observances. Please, see the Queens Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion religious holiday calendar:

E-mail Communication

When writing emails to me, be sure to include a subject line, address me properly by my title and last name, and sign off with your name. Proper email formatting skills are required in post-university life.

Each student is issued a University e-mail address (username@queens.edu) upon admittance. The University uses this e-mail address for official communication with students. Students are expected to read e-mails sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications.

Class Calendar

Week 1: Introduction

Learning Objectives:

Understand how data and digital tools can be applied to historical and humanities methodologies.

Tuesday (Aug 29): Syllabus Day

Go over the Syllabus and Class Processes

Download Zotero: zotero.org (also download the browser addon when prompted).

Thursday (Aug 31): Introduction to Digital History and WordPress


  • What is Digital History?” by Douglas Seefeldt and William G. Thomas (2009).
  • Petri Paju, Mila Oiva and Mats Fridlund, “Digital and Distant Histories: Emergent Approaches within the New Digital History” in Digital Histories: Emergent Approaches within the New Digital History, eds., Mats Fridlund, Mila Oiva, and Petri Paju (Helsinki University Press, 2020), https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-5. (also on Zotero)




Week 2:

Learning Objectives:

Understand how data and digital tools can allow researchers to ask different questions of their sources and topics

Tuesday (Sep 5): Traditional Vs. Digital Research


“Digital History 1.5: A Middle Way between Normal and Paradigmatic Digital Historical Research,” in Digital Histories: Emergent Approaches within the New Digital History, eds., Mats Fridlund, Mila Oiva, and Petri Paju (Helsinki University Press, 2020), https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-5. (also on Zotero)



Thursday (Sep 7): New Narratives and SEO

We will go over how the internet has permitted people to interact with history and present history in new and exciting ways. We will also review the basics of Search Engine Optimization and writing for the internet.

Kevin Kruse, “In its simplest terms, the Civil War came about because the southern states seceded,” Twitter Thread (2018).
Kate Morgan, “How People Read Online: New and Old Findings,” Nielsen Norman Group (2020).



Yoast Plugin for WordPress

Week 3

Learning Objects

Understand and discuss how the internet works and how it can support historical and digital research

Tuesday (Sep 12): History of the Internet and the Digital Humanities

The class will discuss the history of the internet and the digital humanities. How have they changed? How have the changing capabilities of the internet and digital tools informed the questions we can ask?


“Linux Took Over the Web. Now, It’s Taking Over the World” Wired Magazine (Aug. 6, 2016). {if Wired tries to block you from reading it, turn off JavaScript from the dev tools to read it (then reload page)…Google, YouTube or ChatGPT how to do that}
Internet history timeline: ARPANET to the World Wide Web,” LiveScience.com (2022).
Max Roser, “The Internet’s History Has Just Begun,” Our World in Data (October 3, 2018).


The Valley of the Shadow: Guide to the Valley (virginia.edu) (One of the original major DH projects).

Thursday (Sep 14): Copyright, Open Source, open access, Metadata, data types



Week 4:

Learning Objectives:

Understand and discuss the basics of data handling, data source management, and data storage systems

Tuesday (Sep 19): Source Control, Git, and GitHub


“What is Git and how does it work?” https://youtu.be/fJtyf62yAb8

Download Git (https://git-scm.com/)

Thursday (Sep 21): Data Stores: Datasets and Databases




“How does a graph database differ from a relational database?” https://youtu.be/41qdmKIIMz0

Week 5:

Learning Objectives:

Set up, build, and begin to use a basic PostgreSQL database connected to DBeaver

Tuesday (Sep 26): PostgreSQL Database Setup


Download PostgreSQL (you want the latest version–15.2 as of writing)
Create a Database, Create a table
Connect DBeaver

Thursday (Sep 28): PostgreSQL Database Construction


Designing a Database
Normalizing Tables
Using DBeaver to enter data

Week 6:

Learning Objectives

Produce SQL queries and views with the PostgreSQL Database and output them as CSVs for visualization in Tableau

Tuesday (Oct 3): PostgreSQL Querying Data


SQL (Structured Query Language) basics.
Querying the database.

Thursday (Oct 5): Visualizations and Tableau

Week 7:

Learning Objectives:

**Tuesday (Oct 10): No Class–Fall Break**

Thursday (Oct 12): More SQL

Week 8:

Learning Objectives:

Tuesday (Oct 17):




  • Exporting database data to Tableau
  • Creating Visualizations with Tableau

Thursday (Oct 19):


Jeffrey M. Binder, “Alien Reading: Text Mining, Language Standardization, and the Humanities” in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016: On Debates in the DH Manifold, Debates in the Digital Humanities, accessed August 20, 2023, https://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/read/untitled/section/4b276a04-c110-4cba-b93d-4ded8fcfafc9.


How does Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Work? https://youtu.be/jO-1rztr4O0

Google N grams

Week 9:

Learning Objectives:

Tuesday (Oct 24): Text Analysis with Voyant


** Thursday (Oct 26): No Class **

No Class today

Week 10:

Learning Objectives:

Tuesday (Oct 31): Voyant, cont.

**Database/Tableau Practicum Due**

Schmidt, Benjamin M. “Words Alone: Dismantling Topic Models in the Humanities.” http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/2-1/words-alone-by-benjamin-m-schmidt/


Digital Humanities Lab at UMF. “Introduction to Voyant Tools: Basic Distant Reading of Literature.” https://youtu.be/rQbf6V77ScA

Thursday (Nov 2): Voyant, Cont.

Bring your voyant work with you to class

Read:Jeri E. Wieringa, “Constructing Computational Models” in “A Gospel of Health and Salvation,” A Gospel of Health and Salvation, August 7, 2017, http://dissertation.jeriwieringa.com/essays/chapter-2/ (read from Preparing Text for Analysis to end).

Week 11:

Learning Objectives:

Learn how to use a basic visualization tool (Timeline.js), and continue learning the complexities of spatial representation.

Tuesday (Nov 7): Introduction to Spatial Analysis

  • Ian Gregory and Paul S. Ell, “Using GIS to Visualize Historical Data,” in Historical GIS: Technologies, Methodologies, and Scholarship, Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography 39 (Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007). (on Zotero)


“Why All World Maps are Wrong,” Vox, https://youtu.be/kIID5FDi2JQ

Thursday (Nov 9): Palladio Network Analysis





Week 12:

Learning Objectives:

Build a Network/Spatial Analysis project in Palladio and understand the basics of Public Digital History

Tuesday (Nov 14): Palladio Spatial Analysis

**Text Analysis Practicum Due**

Read: Alicia Parlapiano, “There Are Many Ways to Map Election Results. We’ve Tried Most of Them.,” The New York Times, November 1, 2016, sec. The Upshot. (on Zotero, link no longer works, but Zotero has a snapshot of it.)



Thursday (Nov 16): Palladio Work Day


Mark S. Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991) (On Zotero).

Week 13:

Tuesday (Nov 21): No Class–Thanksgiving

Thursday (Nov 23): No Class–Thanksgiving

Week 14:

Learning Objectives:

Develop an understanding of how the public engage in history through various media including crowdsourcing projects and video games

Tuesday (Nov 28): Crowdsourcing History

**Spatial Analysis Practicum Due**


Thursday (Nov 30): Video Games and History

Assassin’s Creed Unity Can’t Help Rebuild Notre Dame” by Simone de Rochefort.
“Requiescat in Pace: The Afterlife of the Borgia in Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood,” by Amanda Madden (on Zotero).

Listen to:
Assassin’s Creed II Podcast: History Respawned

Week 15:

Learning Objectives:

Present projects and receive/provide feedback on improvement

Tuesday (Dec 5):

**Project Presentations**

Thursday (Dec 7)

**Project Presentations**

Final Digital History Project Due Thursday, Dec. 14