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Digital History



This is a short guide to different ways to approach history in a digital environment using diverse digital tools.

Digital Scholarship Examples

For a historian, digital scholarship often involved small projects such as developing charts, graphs, or maps to emphasize particular components of a historian's work. Not only does the inclusion of a visual amid text highlight the importance of a particular point but those different forms of data visualizatation assist in communicating the relationship between different kinds of data. A chart can, for example, visually lay out the increase in migration to the United States from Ireland over the course of the 19th century while a map can underscore the importance of space to an argument.

This landing page provides information on and samples of different kinds of data visualizations historians frequently used. Contact your librarians (see right) for recommendations, training, and more. 

Charts & Graphs

Bar Chart for info wanted 1840s

Charts and graphs are particularly useful in exemplifying the relationship between different kinds of data, including demographic. Possibilities include:

  • Line graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Bubble charts
  • Tree maps


Cartographic visualizations convey the relationship of different kinds of data to space. Types include:

  • Point maps
  • Bubble maps
  • Choropleth maps

Network Visualizations

Network visualization for info wanted 1840s

Network visualizations emphasize the relationships between different people and/or institutions. Possibilities include:

  • Sankey chart
  • Gelphi network visualization
  • Flowmap

OCR and Text Analysis

Wordcloud sample for text analysisMany historians use different programs to run Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on their sources. 

  • Printed text
  • Handwriting
  • Word clouds

Storyboards and Timelines

StoryboardJS info wanted 1840s

Timelines and storyboards emphasize change overtime as a narrative, highlighting events and people in chronological order. Examples include:

  • Timelines
  • Storyboards
  • Storytelling

Reviews in Digital History

Recommended Journals

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Contact Data Services   email

  • ax  Allison Xu
    Data and Visualization Libarian
  • Bee Lehman
    Senior Research Librarian
  • jl  Jiebei Luo
    Data Services Librarian
  •   Sarah Melton
    Head of Digital Scholarship