Sept. 20: Digital History, Preservation, and Manipulation.  

This week we will explore issues and strategies surrounding the preservation of history, and the problem and potential problems posed by manipulation and misinformation.

The National Heritage Digitization Strategy provides a handy guide to digitizing historical material.

It doesn’t take long for digital content to disappear. How can we preserve historical sources that are born digital?

Have a look at some innovative projects that mix preservation with presentation.

The Real Face of White Australia is a fascinating digitization project completed by Tim Sherratt and Kate Bagnall from records in the National Archives of Australia. How does changing the access point of an archive from text to faces change how we think and feel about the records, and how we can work with archival material?

Jeremy Dutcher used 100-year old recordings of Wolastoq-language songs to create his Polaris award-winning album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. What can he teach of us about new ways to preserve and extend what is stored in digital archives?

Crowdsourcing is a popular way to engage the public, preserve social memory, collect historical material and testimony, and create new and innovative projects and exhibits. Explore some of American Alliance of Museum articles on the topic and the Six Lessons the Getty learned in their crowdsourcing project.

Getting the public to help decode Civil War telegrams at the Huntington Library.

Explore these other examples of Crowdsourcing and Preservation Projects:

Explore: and see help and how-to guides. Also: Instructions for scholars

Have a look at this platform for transcribing handwriting. 

Manipulation and Pseudohistory

We are living through an age rife with misinformation and manipulated media, and this includes pseudohistory on the web and in politics. Consider what insights we can draw for public history from Eileen Culloty and Jane Suiter’s Disinformation and Manipulation in Digital Media: Information Pathologies (Routledge, 2021), Introduction and Chapter 5. Access through OWL or through the Library Website.

Read some older discussions on the nature of photography, memory, and manipulation.

What happens when history students deliberately make up history?

What sorts of fake, manipulated, or pseudohistory have you encountered? What do (or can) we as public historians do about it?