Primary Sources and the Historical Profession in the Age of Text Search, Part 3: Digital Texts and the Future of Digital History: Challenges, Opportunities, and Experimentation in Digital Documentary Editing

AHA Session 186
Saturday, January 6, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Diplomat Ballroom (Omni Shoreham, West Lobby)
Paul Israel, Thomas Edison Papers, Rutgers University
Challenges and Opportunities for Sustaining Digital Editions
Ben William Brumfield, Brumfield Labs
Rethinking Accessibility: Developing, Editing, and Publishing Digital Editions
Jennifer E. Stertzer, Center for Digital Editing and The Washington Papers, University of Virginia
Title TBD
Joseph C. Wicentowski, Office of the Historian, United States Department of State
Integrating and Preserving Digital Texts and Images
Paul Israel, Thomas Edison Papers, Rutgers University
The Audience

Session Abstract

Curious about the emerging “technologies and standards that empower historians to take control of their own digital texts and data for research, teaching, and publishing”? This roundtable discussion brings together leading historian-editors and technologists to discuss the current state of the art in preparing digital texts for online research and analysis. Paul Israel, Director and General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University will chair the roundtable and discuss efforts to integrate digital texts with an existing digital image edition and to develop a long-term preservation and access strategy for the metadata and data of these editions. Ben Brumfield, a partner at the digital humanities software consultancy Brumfield Labs, will address options available to editors concerned about making digital editions as easy to preserve as traditional print. Jennifer Stertzer, Senior Editor of the Washington Papers and Director of the Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia, will discuss the project’s experimentation with and development of digital tools and platforms to facilitate all aspects of editorial work, digital publication, and broad accessibility. Andrew J. Torget, general editor and director of the Digital Stephen F. Austin Papers (DAP), will discuss the project’s ongoing efforts to experiment with new digital methods for finding meaningful patterns scattered across numerous documents, focusing, in particular, on efforts to apply sentiment analysis and digital mapping to the DAP corpus. Joseph C. Wicentowski, the Digital History Advisor at the Office of the Historian (U.S. Department of State), will discuss the ideas guiding his office's effort to digitize the half-million page, 150-year-old Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, the official documentary record of U.S. foreign relations, and several other publications and datasets, including the use of the Text Encoding Initiative, an open standard used extensively in digital text projects, and GitHub for making available source code and raw data.

This session is part of a series of sessions, "Primary Sources and the Historical Profession in the Age of Text Search," organized by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and the AHA staff. 
The Digital Age, the Age of Text Search, the Digital Turn--whatever we choose to call it, there is no question that the emergence of digital history is reshaping how historians work, how they are trained, and how they teach. This multi-session series poses fundamental questions about the current state of and future directions for the training of historians and history teachers in the Digital Age, about the kinds of collaborations required for the substantive practice of digital history, and about the role of historians in advocating for and the multiple benefits of participating directly in projects that expand the digital historical infrastructure that will serve the needs of the profession and future historical research.