This semester a number of graduate students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences had the opportunity to partake in a free digital humanities workshop series led by Laura Bang of the Special Collections Department. The five part series included introductory lessons on Coding Basics, Audio Editing, WordPress as a Content Management System and GIS/Mapping. Each meeting brought a new speaker from around the Philadelphia area who would conduct a short lesson on the specific topic and then walk the students through small projects using the programs that were introduced. Although none of us walked away experts, the mere introduction to programs and websites has made available the tools needed to be self taught.
With the history department offering a heavy presence throughout the series it was often asked what role digital humanities plays in the field of history, and the answer is they often work hand in hand. To quote one of the presenters, Mitch Fraas, Digital Humanities is “a new way of accessing and presenting humanistic ideas and information.” For historians this often works in our favor! The simplest example would be the digitizing of collections, such as the James Madison papers, for online access and research. However, here are two other examples that tie together the different aspects of the series such as mapping, coding and audio editing to give a better idea of the ways that Digital Humanities can offer new forms of research.