Daniel J. Cohen, Roy Rosenzweig. Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. 316 pp. $28.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8122-1923-4.
Reviewed by Brad Eden (University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Published on H-HRE (March, 2006)
The Web for Historians
This book is a thorough, easy-to-understand introduction to the web for historians, as well as for anyone wishing to post any type of historical document on the web. Anyone wishing to develop and construct an online historical work or project will find step-by-step instructions for doing so, from initiating, planning, designing, and digitization, to copyright, interactivity, and more. The authors have a wealth of experience in online historical projects and websites. Cohen is Director of Research Projects at the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University, while Rosenzweig is the founder and director of CHNM and also serves as Professor of History at George Mason University. Together, the two men build on their decade of experience and expertise at CHNM, where their work has won numerous awards.
Digital History is divided into an introduction and eight self-explanatory chapters: "Exploring the History Web," "Getting Started: The Nature of Websites and What You Will Need to Create Yours," "Becoming Digital: Preparing Historical Materials for the Web," "Designing for the History Web," "Building an Audience," "Collecting History Online," "Owning the Past? The Digital Historian's Guide to Copyright and Intellectual Property," and "Preserving Digital History: What We Can Do Today to Help Tomorrow's Historians." There is also a short chapter titled "Some Final Thoughts," and an appendix that discusses database software, scripting languages, and XML.
Digital History is geared towards those with little knowledge of computers, while still including some details for those who are technically savvy and looking for new directions and applications. The book is richly illustrated with examples and website screen shots, which demonstrate key points and provide best-case examples. Cohen and Rosenzweig tend to focus on text digitization and working with HTML/XML. They write in a tone that is very friendly and authoritative, yet accessible to both the average reader and the college professor. All in all, the authors have put together a book that is concise yet complete in content, more practical than scholarly, and aimed particularly towards the amateur historian or the archive/museum just beginning to get started in putting their historical content online. Still, many historians, along with scholars working in the humanities and social sciences, will find this to be a very useful handbook.
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Brad Eden. Review of Cohen, Daniel J.; Rosenzweig, Roy, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.
H-HRE, H-Net Reviews.
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