Instructor: Shawn Graham

Introduction: “We’ve spent millions digitizing the world’s historical resources. Let’s work together to figure out what they can teach us” – Adam Crymble

How do we find, analyze, and visualize the patterns in historical data? Is the internet a historical source? How do people talk about history online? Is Google changing our historical consciousness? What happens when people off-load their historical memory to Wikipedia? How do we regain control over our digital identity as historians? What does open access research mean for me?

Crafting Digital History explores these questions and more over the term through a series of hands-on exercises and individual project work. You do not need to be ‘techy’ to succeed in this course. I know that digital skills come in all shapes and sizes. What is far more important is that you are willing to try, and willing to say ‘I don’t know – help?’ I expect you to talk to each other in this class. Share your work. Collaborate. Help each other!

Digital history is a kind of public history. What’s more, the skills you will learn in this class will make you a better historian, a more critical consumer of online media, and more employable. If you want to do more with your computer than post on Facebook, this class is for you.

Class Format: We will be meeting face-to-face, virtually, once a week via a modified Google Hangout. These meet-ups are not obligatory, but you will get more out of the course if you do. They will help you stay on task. The class is divided into two-week modules that mirror the digital history workflow. There will be menu of exercises to complete within each module (precisely which exercises will depend; in general terms, the exercises are pitched at different comfort levels, and so I will expect you to push yourself to do as many as possible).

I anticipate being able to provide server space for you to set up your own digital platforms, blog, and digital identity. You will keep an online research notebook of your work, and a digital repository for your project. You will be expected to comment/learn/draw inspiration from the work of your peers, by leaving reflections in your own notebook. Your final project will be posted online (individual format and approach will be determined).

Aims and Goals: By the end of this course, you will be able to:
1. Identify and define the limitations of useful sources of historical data online
2. Compare and employ appropriate tools to clean and manipulate this data with a critical eye to how the tools themselves are theory-laden
3. Analyze data using various tools with an awareness of the tendency of tools to push towards various historiographic or epistemic perspectives (ie, the ‘procedural rhetorics’ of various tools)
4. Visualize meaningful patterns in the data to write ‘good history’ across multiple platforms, with critical evaluation of the limitations
5. Model best practices in open access data management as mandated by SSHRC and other research agencies
6. Develop an online scholarly voice to contribute data and reflection to the wider digital history community

Assessment: online notebook; reflection pieces; final project. There will be no final examination in this course.

Text: An online workbook will be provided. Readings will be to online materials, provided within the workbook. You may wish – but you are in no way obliged – to obtain a copy of ‘The Historian’s Macroscope’ ( please note that the price listed in Amazon is not correct; do not purchase until I can confirm the correct price). A draft version of the text is available for free at

Questions? Please email me at: or on twitter at @electricarchaeo


The Department of History is offering HIST 3907 – Crafting Digital History in a fully online format in the Winter 2016 term. Non-registered students are permitted to participate in the Open Access section (see for more details) and are able to sample the course content without having to pay tuition fees or complete exams. However, students may like an opportunity to earn course credit for their participation and this can be accomplished by registering in the Flex Term HIST 3907O. To register for the Flex Term version, students must proceed through an application process and register by February 25, 2016. Students must complete the course by the end of the Winter Term (April 8, 2016). Note that Flex Term courses are only available to those with Special Student status and cannot be accessed by Carleton degree students.

For more information, please consult the following FAQ’s:

Want to earn university-level credit?

Have you been participating in the Open Access HIST 3907 course, but now want to have the chance to earn university credit? You just need to register into Flex Term HIST 3907O by following these simple steps:

  1. Submit a request by email to Dr. Graham ( Proceed to step #2 ONLY AFTER receiving written approval.
  2. Meet the eligibility criteria for being admitted as a Special Student (including the English Language Proficiency Requirements* of the university) and complete the online application for Special Student admission and register by February 25th.

*Note: Students must meet the proficiency requirements stated in Option 1 of Section 4.0 English as a Second Language Requirement (ESLR) as published in the Carleton University Undergraduate Calendar. Students who do not meet these requirements will not be permitted to register in the Flex Term course for credit because of the additional requirement to register in on-campus English as a Second Language courses.

I’m a Carleton degree student. What should I know?

Carleton degree students do not have access to the Flex Term registration option. However, you are welcome to register normally in the Online Course HIST 3907 section O, which follows the normal term structure, dates and deadlines of the university. You can register for this Course via Carleton Central.

How long do I have to complete Flex Term HIST3907O?

You will be registered in Winter Term section O. All course requirements must be completed by April 8, 2016 regardless of when you registered.

What should I know about tuition, fees and payment deadlines?

Normal tuition fees apply to the Flex Term course. There is no financial withdrawal (fee refund) permitted after the financial withdrawal deadline of January 31, 2016. Please review all of the information on tuition, dates, and deadlines.

Students with an outstanding financial balance with the university or with a hold on their account will be denied registration.

What academic rules and regulations apply to the course?

All general rules and regulations listed in the Carleton University Undergraduate Calendar apply.

How do I withdraw from the course?

The last day to withdraw academically from the course is April 8, 2016, the published academic withdrawal date for Winter 2016 courses. However, there is no financial withdrawal (fee refund) after January 31, 2016.

How do the assignments, participation and projects work?

All work is completed online. For more details, please consult the course outline or contact the course instructor. The course outline also includes information on the support available for those requiring academic accommodations.

I still have questions. Who should I contact?

Questions regarding registration should be directed to For information about course content and the evaluation components, please contact the course instructor.