Reading List - Digital History

This is the comprehensive exam list I maintain for graduate students looking to add digital history to their fields.


Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

Edward Ayers, “The Pasts and Futures of Digital History” (1999).

Susan Hockey, “The History of Humanities Computing,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, eds. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

William G. Thomas, “Computing and the Historical Imagination,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, eds. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

Douglas Seefeldt and William G. Thomas, “What is Digital History?Perspectives on History (May 2009).

Ed Ayers and William G. Thomas, “The Differences Slavery Made: A Close Analysis of Two American Communities,” American Historical Review (2003).

Interchange: The Promise of Digital History,” Journal of American History 95 (September 2008).

Dan Cohen, “History and the Second Decade of the Web

Jason Heppler, “What is Digital Humanities?

Christine Borgman, Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet (MIT Press, 2009).

Roberto A. Busa, “Perspectives on the Digital Humanities,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, eds. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

Abby Smith, “New Model Scholarship: How Will it Survive?” CLIR (2003).

Ian F. McNeely and Lisa Wolverton, Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008).

Vannevar Bush, “As We May ThinkThe Atlantic (1945).

Johanna Drucker, SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).

William Fogel and Stanley Engerman, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Slavery (Norton, 1972), plus the reviews by Haskell and Gutmann.

William Pannapacker, “Stop Calling It ‘Digital Humanities’,” Chroncile of Higher Education (February 18, 2013).

Critical Readings

Moya Z. Bailey, “All the Digital Humanists are White, All the Nerds are Men, but Some of us are Brave,” Journal of Digital Humanities 1 (2011).

James Smithies, “Digital Humanities, Postfoundationalism, Postindustrial Culture,” Digital Humanities Quarterly

Alan Liu, “The Meaning of the Digital Humanities,” PMLA 128 (March 2013): 409–423.

Roopika Risam, “On Disruption, Race, and the Digital Humanities” (2015).

Matthew Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).


Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (Ginko, 2005).

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 1999).

Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media History and the Data of Culture (MIT, 2006).

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2001).

Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (MIT, 2008).

Janet Murray, Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice (MIT, 2011).

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Whwere Old and New Media Collide (NYU, 2008).


Roy Rosenzweig, “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

Daniel Rosenberg, “Data Before the Fact

Hadley Wickham, “Tidy Data,” Journal of Statistical Software

Lisa Gitelman, “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013).

Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000).

James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (Pantheon, 2011).

Sarah Igo, The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (Harvard, 2008).

Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine (Back Bay Books, 2000).

Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web (HarperBusiness, 2000).

Ann Blair, “Reading Strategies for Coping With Information Overload, ca. 1550–1700Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (2003): 11–28.

Fred Gibbs and Trevor Owens, “Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing,” Writing History in the Digital Age (2011).

Digital Archives and Digitization

Roy Rosenzweig, “Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past,” The Journal of American History 93 (June 2006): 177–146.

Robert Danton, A Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future (PublicAffairs, 2010.)

Sarah Werner, “When Material Book Culture Meets Digital Humanities,” Journal of Digital Humanities 1 (2012).

Jean-Francois Blanchette, “A Material History of Bits,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 62 (June 2011): 1042–1057.

Carole Palmer, “Thematic Research Collections,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, eds. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

Public History

Mark Tabeau, “Listening to the City: Oral History and Place in the Digital Era,” The Oral History Review 40 (2013): 25–25.

Bruce Wyman, et al., “Digital Storytelling in Museums: Observations and Best Practices,” Curator 54 (2011): 461–468.

Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker, “Digitising History from Below: The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674–1834,” History Compass 4 (March 2006): 193–202.

Andrew Hurley, “Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide,” The Public Historian 38:1 (February 2016): 69–88.

Digital Scholarship

Mills Kelly, Teaching History in the Digital Age (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013).

William G. Thomas, “Writing a Digital History Journal Article from Scratch: An Account” (2007).

Bethany Nowviskie, “Evaluating Collaborative Digital Scholarship (or, Where Credit is Due),” Journal of Digital Humanities 1 (2012).

Jason Heppler, Alex Galarza, and Douglas Seefeldt, “A Call to Redefine Historical ScholarshipJournal of Digital Humanities 1 (2012).

American Historical Association, “Guidelines for the Professional Evaluation of Digital Scholarship by Historians” (2015)

Stephen Robertson, “Doing History in Hypertext,” Journal of the Association for History and Computing, August 2004.

Janet H. Murray, “From Additive to Expressive Form,” Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (MIT, 2000).

Janet Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (MIT, 2000).

George Landow, ed., Hyper/Text/Theory (John Hopkins, 1994).


Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford University Press, 2005).

N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago, 1999).

Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Harvard, 1993).

Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford, 1990).

William H. Sewell, Logic of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation (Chicago, 2005).

Lawrence Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (Basic Books, 2006).

Clay Shirkey, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. (Penguine, 2009).

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Yale, 2007).

Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (Public Affairs, 2011).

Jaron Lanier, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism,” Edge (May 2006).

Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget (Knopf, 2010).

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (W. W. Norton, 2008).

Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Knopf, 2010).

John Palfrey, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Perseus, 2008).

Jonathan Zittrain, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (Yale, 2008.)

Alex Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Minnesota, 2006).

Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (Basic Books, 2011).

Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (Touchstone, 1995).

Douglas Rushkoff, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age (Soft Skull Press, 2011).

Ted Friedman, Electric Dreams: Computers in American Culture (NYU, 2005).

Lev Manovich, Software Takes Command (Bloomsbury, 2013).

Texts / Text Analysis

Jean-Baptiste Michel et al., “Quantiative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books,” Science 331 (January 2011): 176–182.

Matthew Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History (University of Illinois Press, 2013).

Tim Hitchcock, “Digital Searching and the Reformulation of Historical Knowledge,” in The Virtual Representation of the Past, eds. Mark Greenglass and Lorna Hughes (Basingstoke: Ashgate Publishing, 2008), 81–90.

Andrew Goldstone and Ted Underwood, “The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies,” New Literary History (2015), and online supplement.

Fred Gibbs and Dan Cohen, “A Conversation with Data: Prospecting Victorian Words and Ideas,” Victorian Studies 54 (Autumn 2011): 69–77.

Benjamin M. Schmidt, “Words Alone: Dismantling Topic Models in the Humanities,” Journal of Digital Humanities 2 (2012).

Elijah Meeks and Scott B. Weingart, “The Digital Humanities Contribution to Topic Modeling,” Journal of Digital Humanities 2 (2012)

Tim Hitchcock, “Big Data for Dead PeopleHistoryonics (2013).

Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, and Trees (Verso, 2005).

Stephen Ramsay, Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism (University of Illinois Press, 2011)

Megan Brett, “Topic Modeling: A Basic Introduction”, Journal of Digital Humanities 2 (2012).

Benjamin Schmidt, “When you have a MALLET, everything looks like a nail”, Sapping Attention, November 2, 2012.

Cameron Blevins, “Topic Modeling Martha Ballard’s Diary”, historying, January 4, 2010.

Stephen Ramsay, “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books”, Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology (Michigan, 2014).

Franco Moretti, Distant Reading (Verso, 2013).

Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web (Palgrave, 2002).

Stephen Ramsay, “Toward an Algorithmic CriticismLiterary and Linguistic Computing (2003): 167–174.

Geoffrey Rockwell, “What is Text Analysis, Really?Literary and Linguistic Computing 18 (2003): 209–219.

Alan Liu, “When Was Linearity: The Meaning of Graphics in the Digital Age” (2008).

George Landow, Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology (John Hopkins, 1997).

Richard A. Lanham, The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts (Chicago, 1993).

Susan Hockey, Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Oxford, 2000).

Andrew Piper, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (Chicago, 2012).


John Theibault, “Visualizations and Historical Arguments,” in Writing History in the Digital Age, eds. Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki (2012).

Johanna Drucker, Graphesis (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information: Narratives of Space and Time (Graphics Press, 1990).

Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Graphics Press, 2001).

John Tukey, Exploratory Data Analysis (Pearson, 1977).

Johanna Drucker, “Humanities Approaches to the Graphic Display,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 5 (2011).

David Staley, “Historical VisualizationsHistorical Visualizations 3 (November 2000).

Lev Manovich, “What is Visualization?Poetess Archive Journal 2 (December 2010).

David Staley, Computers, Visualization, and History: How New Technology Will Transform Our Understanding of the Past (Sharpe, 2002).


John Padgett and Christopher Ansell, “Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434American Journal of Sociology 98 (May 1993): 1259–1319.

Scott Weingart, “Demystifying Networks,” Journal of Digital Humaniies 1 (2011).

Shin-Kap Han, “The Other Ride of Paul RevereMobilization 14 (2009): 143–162.

Keiran Healy, “Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere” (2013).

Caroline Winterer, “Where is America in the Republic of LettersModern Intellectual History 9 (2012): 597–623.

Spatial History

David Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor Harris, eds., The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010).

Edward L. Ayers and Scott Nesbit, “Seeing Emancipation: Scale and Freedom in the American South,” Journal of the Civil War Era 1 (March 2011): 324.

Cameron Blevins, “Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston,” Journal of American History 101 (2014): 122–147, plus online supplement.

Anne Knowles, ed., Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008).

Anne Knowles, Past Time Past Place: GIS for History (ESRI, 2002).

Richard White, “What Is Spatial History?,” Spatial History Project working paper, February 2010.

Jo Guldi, “What is the Spatial Turn?” and “The Spatial Turn in History”.

Ben Schmidt, “Reading digital sources: a case study in ship’s logs,” Sapping Attention, November 15, 2012.

Gregory, Ian N. and Alistair Geddes, Toward Spatial Humanities: Historical GIS and Spatial History (Indiana University Press, 2014).


  • What is digital history? Should we be worried about defining digital history?
  • Are there differences between digital humanities and digital history?
  • Is history a “book discipline”? Should it remain one?
  • What does digital history offer that you cannot do otherwise?
  • What is the history of digital history?
  • Where is the field of digital history headed? Where should it be headed?
  • How does the history of digital history connect to the history of the discipline?
  • What does digital history mean for your dissertation and other research?
  • Let’s say you’re hired to teach at a small liberal arts college. How would you define digital history for them? What kind of challenges would you face vs. a larger institution, and how would you overcome them?