Module 1: Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age

Module 1 is intended to create a foundation for you to build upon for the rest of the course. The readings and discussion will give you a basic understanding of what digital history is and why the digital matters to all historians in our current era. The technical activities will help you establish control of your online (scholarly) presence and set up some basic infrastructure you will need for various portions of this course, including your course blog.


1. read Douglas Seefeldt and William G. Thomas, “What is Digital History,” May 2009

2. explore the websites of the past recipients of the Roy Rosenzweig Prize from the AHA

3. read EITHER Ian Milligan, History in the Age of Abundance?: How the Web is Transforming Historical Research (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019) OR read the intro, conclusion, 1-2 reviews of Ian Milligan’s book, and Ian Milligan, “The Problem of History in the Age of Abundance,” in Chronicle of Higher Education (December 11, 2016), (you can read this for free if you use the GMU VPN). (Yes, seriously, it’s a choice; I recognize there’s not much time between the start of the semester and our first class.)

4. participate in the Slack discussion on “what is digital history? how are computers and the internet transforming (or not) historical research more generally?”

Technical Activities (Required):

1. BEFORE CLASS, get a password manager so that you can easily create and use strong, unique passwords for your course accounts and everything else you might make online accounts for. Options include LastPass (I use this one, it’s free), Keeper Security, 1Password, and more.

2. BEFORE CLASS, sign up for the class Slack and Basecamp (you should receive an emailed invitation for each)

3. BEFORE CLASS, purchase a Reclaim Hosting shared-hosting account (the personal level at $45 should be more than sufficient for your needs). Remember to confirm your email or halfway through the semester you will lose log-in access to your account and have to deal with tech support to get it back. While you can use any domain name you desire, most but not all academics use some variant of “” or “” for their academic portfolio website (mine is and is a subdomain of that domain).

4. set up your WordPress instance through Reclaim Hosting (instructions can be found here, be sure to use https not http) and create a website for your class blog and academic portfolio; check out this WordPress tutorial and customize your WordPress instance as desired. At minimum, I highly recommend installing a security plugin (I use iThemes Security) and an accessibility plugin (I use WP Accessibility)

Technical Activities (Optional):

5. set up an ORCID account and obtain a unique identifier that you can use to help disambiguate yourself and your publications from other people with similar names.

6. set up other professional profiles if/as desired, e.g. at Humanities CommonsGoogle Scholar, the department website (PhD students), or (NOTE: this last site is a bit spammy)

7. do a Google search for your name and its variants. Set to private any accounts and remove any content you wouldn’t want your future supervisor or a search committee to have access to. By the end of the semester, you should see your new professional profiles popping up as top search hits – that’s what you want people to find when they search for you online