The Atlantic: The Way We Write History Has Changed. “It may be, too, that widespread digitization of archival materials could allow people outside the professionalized, largely Western historical tradition to do history. Tim Hitchcock, a historian at the University of Sussex, put the argument in a transnational context: Digitization has ‘democratised historical research, creating a space for people to interrogate their own communities’ histories,’ he wrote to me. Different people working with the same historical materials will probably change how history is written.” I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission: New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images Available Online. “As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe and make available to the public the materials under our care, we will spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column will list new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We will close out the piece with a list of fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.”
New Yorker: The Erasure of Political History at the National Archives . “The chances of factual truth surviving the onslaught of power are very slim indeed; it is always in danger of being maneuvered out of the world not only for a time but, potentially, forever. Facts and events are infinitely more fragile things than axioms, discoveries, theories—even the most wildly speculative ones—produced by the human mind; they occur in the field of the ever-changing affairs of men, in whose flux there is nothing more permanent than the admittedly relative permanence of the human mind’s structure. Once they are lost, no rational effort will ever bring them back.”
History News Network: British National Archives to trial 12-document limit per day for visitors, as academics warn research could be affected. “The National Archives have provoked outcry from academics by announcing a new trial restricting readers to 12 documents a day, despite concerns it may add ‘huge expense’ to research.”
From late December, and I missed it, but I think it’s important. Washington Post: The case for historians being more engaged in public affairs, not less. “History is crucial in our tumultuous moment. But to make a difference and shape our debates, trained historians must contribute a particular kind of historical thinking — one based in fact, evidence and painstaking research. It is not enough merely to call on Americans to study more history. There are plenty of other kinds of history to which Americans can, and often do, turn. But all histories are not created equal, and America’s long culture war over creationism can offer a glimmer of hope for historians trying to make a difference today.”
Illinois State University: Newly digitized collection highlights Bloomington-Normal women’s suffrage history. “Hazle [Buck Ewing]’s activist writings, as well as incoming letters from dozens of other suffragists and materials from the National Woman’s Party and Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, are now freely available online for research and study, thanks to a monthslong digitization campaign by Milner Library and the Ewing Cultural Center.”
University of Texas at Austin: Humanity and Google Sheets. “When one of Professor Julie Hardwick’s students recently got an internship at a local tech company, she was asked to compare the company’s benefits package with those of 60 competitors. Initially overwhelmed, she then thought, ‘I’m going to get my Google Sheet, get my evidence, look for patterns, get my data visualization, and then present an interpretation.’ This spreadsheet-based approach might seem like the plan of a good business student, but in fact, she was harkening to a different class. “