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Digital History


Digital Tools for the Historian's Use

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

Tools for Digital Scholarship

There are dozens of different tools for doing different levels of digital scholarship. This list focuses on a selection tools either freely available or to which Boston College provides licenses. For questions on any of tools, contact your history subject librarian

What's on This Page

This page has a lot on it. You can use the following anchors (links down the page) to jump straight to a relevant box.

    Adobe (OCR)

    Adobe Acrobat Professional provides services such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for your many scans. 

    • Optical character recognition (OCR) for print documents
    • PDF creation and manipulation 

    Skill level: Basic
    Cost: Expensive, Available in O'Neill Library's Digital Studio.


    Clio is a public interface designed to allow historians to set up historical walking tours of their neighborhoods. Excellent for class projects. 

    • Historical walking tour points

    Skill level: Basic  
    Cost: Free


    An interface for creating historical timelines. Excellent for class work to highlight connections between different events over time. 

    • Interactive timelines

    Skill level: Basic
    Cost: Free for entry level; Expanded requires license

    Excel (Microsoft)

    Microsoft's Excel is one of the more robust spread sheets available. It's functionality is dependent on skill level.

    • Charts
    • Maps
    • Data analysis

    Skill level: Basic to Advanced
    Cost: Boston College affiliates are entitled to download one copy of the Office Suite.

    Google Sites

    Google Sites is designed to facilitate easy website creation. It is particularly useful for digital exhibitions highlighting visual media. 

    • Digital Exhibits
    • Websites

    Skill level: Basic to Intermediate
    Cost: Free for use with Google account


    omeka is a digital interface designed to 

    • Digital Exhibits
    • Metadata management
    • Websites

    Skill level: Basic to Advanced
    Cost: Free for use

    Storymap JS

    With StoryMap JS users can create a visual storybook highlighting different topics or themes in history. Basic interface works with a map but lean into images instead. 

    • Digital Exhibits
    • Story books
    • Timelines

    Skill level: Basic
    Cost: Free for use


    Tableau is software designed to create multiple forms of data visualizations ranging from the simple to complex. The interface is designed to provide either static images or live-interfaces through public dashboards. 

    • Charts
    • Graphs
    • Bubble map of ports of arrival 1940-1850Maps
    • Timelines

    Skill level: Intermediate to Advanced
    Cost: Free for basic use; License needed for advanced features

    Transkribus (OCR)

    Transkribus is open access software designed for OCR of digital facsimiles of physical documents. 

    • OCR on print documents
    • OCR of handwritten documents (large number in same hand)

    Skill level: Intermediate to Advanced
    Cost: Free


    WordPress is a website platform designed to assist users in creating visually engaging:

    • Websites 
    • Digital exhibitions 
    • Blogs

    Skill: Basic to Advanced
    Cost: Free for basic use; Subscription fees for advanced tools


    Voyant is a tool designed for text analysis. Using this tool, users can rapidly generate:

    • Word clouds
    • Charts examining word trend/frequency
    • Summaries
    • Context analysis

    Skill: Basic to Intermediate
    Cost: Free