“Arguing with Digital History” Workshop to Address a Central Problem in Digital History

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce that it will hold a workshop this fall titled “Arguing with Digital History: A Workshop on Using Digital History to Make Arguments for Academic Audiences.” Generously funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the workshop will bring twenty-four historians to George Mason University on September 15–16, 2017. Along with the workshop organizers, Stephen Robertson and Lincoln Mullen, these historians will address a pressing problem in digital history.

More than twenty years after the earliest work in digital history, there are still only a handful of projects that make explicit arguments in conversation with the scholarly literature for an academic audience. This shortcoming means that while digital history is a vibrant field, it has made only slight contributions to the broader historical discipline.

This workshop aims to encourage argument-driven digital history that contributes to disciplinary conversations. The participants will discuss conceptual and structural issues involved in argumentation for academic audiences. The workshop participants have been selected for their expertise in a range of digital history methodologies—including 3D analysis, network analysis, digital collections, and mapping and spatial analysis—as well as the chronological range their historical fields. The workshop aims to identify the reasons that digital historians have been slow to make arguments, and to draw up a set of guidelines to encourage digital historical argumentation.

The participants will write a group-authored white paper on general principles for integrating digital tools and methods with the arguments and historical interpretations at the core of academic history. The white paper will also give scholars examples of how to apply those principles using specific digital history methods in specific historical periods. A session discussing the white paper will be part of the program of the American Historical Association annual meeting in Washington D.C. in January 2018.

The “Arguing with Digital History” workshop is parallel to another of the Center’s initiatives to encourage digital history argumentation. The Center also recently announced a new annual conference and peer-reviewed publication, Current Research in Digital History, which will provide a venue for presenting and publishing discipline-specific argumentation in digital history.

RRCHNM thanks the workshop participants for their willingness to spend time on this important issue to the field.


Workshop participants

  • Edward Ayers, University of Richmond
  • Edward Baptist, Cornell University
  • Cameron Blevins, Northeastern University
  • Diane Harris Cline, George Washington University
  • Ryan Cordell, Northeastern University
  • Kalani Craig, Indiana University—Bloomington
  • Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware
  • Kim Gallon, Purdue University
  • Fred Gibbs, University of New Mexico
  • Jennifer Giuliano, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Jo Guldi, Southern Methodist University
  • Jason Heppler, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Michael Jarvis, University of Rochester
  • Micki Kaufman, City University of New York
  • Sharon Leon, George Mason University
  • Matthew Lincoln, Getty Research Institute
  • Austin Mason, Carleton College
  • Michelle Moravec, Rosemont College
  • Scott Nesbit, University of Georgia
  • Angel Nieves, Hamilton College
  • Miriam Posner, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Janneken Smucker, West Chester University
  • William Thomas III, University of Nebraska—Lincoln
  • Lauren Tilton, University of Richmond


Mapping Early American Elections Launches!

Election Day in Philadelphia 1815, by John Lewis Krimmel

RRCHNM is pleased to announce the launch of the Mapping Early American Elections project website: http://earlyamericanelections.org/.

During this three-year project, funded by the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities, we build on the New Nation Votes (NNV) collection of electoral returns, also funded by the NEH. Mapping Early American Elections is turning those election returns into a dataset which has a spatial component. This extensive dataset will offer researchers new opportunities to visualize and map the changing character of early American democracy as revealed through the country’s earliest elections, 1787 to 1825.

By the end of the grant, we will create and publish multiple maps and visualizations representing Congressional and state legislative elections for 24 states. The website will include a map browser inviting users to explore early American political history in exciting new ways. Issues such as changes in voter participation, turnover in Congress and the state legislatures, the growth of party competition, and regional changes in voting patterns will appear with new clarity.

We will blog about our process and progress throughout different stages of the project. Follow the latest developments on the project’s blog.

Congratulations to the entire project team!

Project Consultants:

  • Philip Lampi, American Antiquarian Society
  • Andrew Robertson, City University of New York, Graduate Center

RRCHNM Statement on the Executive Order Restricting Access to the US

The Executive Order of January 27, 2017, restricting people’s access to the United States based on their national origins and beliefs, is at odds with the commitment to diversity at the core of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media mission. We stand in opposition to actions that discriminate and divide, and to administration efforts that restrict access to government data, which impede the teaching and collaboration that democratize history and advance research.

We have endorsed the American Historical Association statement condemning the executive order. We offer our support to responses to these policies, such as the Trump Protest Archive and Data Refuge. The Rosenzweig Center will continue to seek ways to respond to the ongoing threats to inclusivity and democracy.

The mission of the Rosenzweig Center is to use digital media and computer technology to democratize history: to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. Our projects encompass a range of American experiences of war, migration, and diplomacy, as well as the perspectives of cultures from around the world on topics including economic change, leadership, reform, revolution, and repression. Our work creating and presenting the past involves collaborations with scholars and communities of diverse backgrounds, countries of origin, and beliefs.

New NEH Planning Grant Explores Transnational Roots of American Popular Music

NEH LogoRRCHNM is pleased to announce we received a National Endowment for the Humanities, Digital Projects for the Public, Discovery grant to plan Hearing the Americas, a digital public humanities project that will increase users’ understanding of the transnational roots of American popular music.Working closely with Mason historians Matthew Karush and Michael O’Malley, Sheila Brennan, Megan Brett, and Kim Nguyen of RRCHNM, will use digitized music collections available in the Library of Congress’s (LC) National Jukebox and the University of California at Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Cylinder Audio Archive to expose the diversity of American popular music before 1925. These songs will provide the building blocks for the team to design a digital public project that will ask users how well they know their music history and invite them to discover a rich contextual network of related historical collections.

The grant funds will allow the team to research the audio and archival collections; conduct audience research; test with different user groups; and produce a design document that will lay out how the project will proceed in future phases.

Hearing the Americas deals with commercial music from the period immediately before the advent of many of the most iconic American genres. By incorporating the most recent humanities scholarship, this project will expose the origins of jazz, blues, and country as deeply transnational. Even audiences who are already familiar with popular music history will gain a new appreciation for the multicultural roots of American music, and of America’s broader cultural history.

RRCHNM is grateful to the NEH for its support of humanities work here and around the country.

Kress and Getty Fund Workshops for Art Curators through the Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) is thrilled to announce a new program with the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation to begin The Networked Curator initiative. With funding from the Samuel H. Kress and Getty Foundations, The Networked Curator will connect curators with the digital work currently done in art organization and the broader field of art history by developing two three-day intensive workshops. This initiative is part of a long tradition at RRCHNM to design hands-on training experiences for professionals who are experts in their fields, and who are digital novices.

The AAMC Foundation supports the role of the curator within the art community by advancing professional development opportunities through multiple programming formats, advocating for the highest standards of ethics and professional behavior, fostering collaborative efforts, and furthering diversity and inclusion within the field.

The Networked Curator is not meant to teach curators how to use their organization’s collections management system, rather, it is meant to boost confidence of art curators and to give them the tools to communicate and collaborate within their own communities so that they may become more integrally involved in planning and implementing digital projects. During these workshops, participants will expand their digital literacy to better understand what is possible on the web and in digital environments. Drawing on their experiences leading the DoingDH series, RRCHNM’s Sheila A. Brennan and Sharon M. Leon will develop and teach sessions designed to empower attendees to actively participate in digital initiatives in their organizations.

The program seeks to train a total of 25-30 curators, working at different stages of their careers, representing a diverse group of organizations and locations, including those without a direct or full-time art organization affiliation. The first workshop will be held at Mason in the summer of 2017 and the second will be at the Getty Research Center in the winter of 2018. More information about applications will be available in spring 2017.

RRCHNM is pleased to be working again with the Getty and Kress Foundations, as part of their ongoing efforts to offer free digital training in the field.

Read the full press release on the AAMC website.

RRCHNM at AHA Annual Meeting


The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media will be well represented at this year’s American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Denver this week.  If you are planning to attend, here is where you can find us:

  • Friday, January 6 (10:30 am – noon) — RRCHNM Director Stephen Robertson is chairing and presenting in the Collaborative Digital History roundtable.
  • Friday, January 6, 2017 (11:30 am – 2:30 pm) — Stop by the RRCHNM table at the Affiliated Societies Display in the Grand Concourse (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level).
  • Friday, January 6, 2017 (1:30 pm – 3:00 pm) — RRCHNM Director of Education Projects Kelly Schrum at AHA Digital Drop-in Session (Mineral Hall C, Hyatt Regency Denver, Third Floor)

After the conference, Stephen Robertson is participating in a meeting of the AHA’s Digital History Working Group to prepare lists of experts and a gallery of projects to support the AHA’s Guidelines for the Evaluation of Digital Scholarship.







RRCHNM uses State Department grant to create diplomatic simulations for the classroom

Visiting Mongolian students worked to resolve an international HIV/AIDS crisis in the imaginary countries of Daymar and Lateen during a diplomacy in Action simulation at the Arlington Campus. Photo courtesy of Chris Preperato.

Visiting Mongolian students worked to resolve an international HIV/AIDS crisis in the imaginary countries of Daymar and Lateen during a Diplomacy in Action simulation at Mason’s Arlington Campus. Photo courtesy of Chris Preperato.

Reposted article by Jamie Rogers from News at Mason:

High school students and college undergraduates will soon be able to build diplomacy skills thanks to a series of diplomatic simulations being developed at George Mason University.

A $198,000 grant from the State Department’s U.S. Diplomacy Center is funding the project, “Diplomacy in Action: Diplomatic Simulations in the Classroom,” said grant recipient Kelly Schrum, director of education projects for George Mason’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

Mason researchers are creating and revising simulations on multiple topics, including nuclear crises, fresh water, refugees and HIV/AIDS, said Gwen White, the Diplomacy in Action project manager. Most of the simulations will feature fictional countries so students can focus on the process.

In November, visiting Mongolian students worked to resolve an international HIV/AIDS crisis in the imaginary countries of Daymar and Lateen during a simulation at the Arlington Campus. The students, who were visiting the United States through a State Department program at the University of Indiana, played the role of stakeholders in a dispute over day laborers. They debated whether or not to allow the workers entry into a country that had recently seen a surge in AIDS cases.

The students were able to reach a temporary agreement through both formal and informal negotiations, White said.

Schrum and White are working with teachers and students from 10 countries to test the simulations. The tests are recorded on video and analyzed by Mason researchers and instructors.

Schrum said students who take part in the simulations “get to experience how diplomacy works and what it means to understand someone else’s point of view.”

Students at the high school level are ready for exposure to the complexities of diplomacy and the idea that there is not necessarily one solution to any international crisis, said White.

“It has just been really amazing what I’ve seen [and] how quickly the students get into character. It’s a fascinating thing to watch,” White said.

During the simulations, students have to negotiate and build alliances with others, she added.

Mason freshman Stephanie Galarza is one of the research assistants on the project.

Working with diplomacy is a far cry from her biology major, but the research she’s doing now could prepare her to do medical research later, because she’s learning to collect background information on a specific subject, Galarza said. She’s learning to understand the complexity of global issues and the importance of communicating with multiple groups of stakeholders.

“I get to work with projects that are going to help people,” she said. “It’s not like my old job at the movie theater—it’s actually helping me get where I want to go.”

The diplomatic simulations will be available for free on the U.S. Diplomacy Center website in 2017. The simulations complement the mission of the U.S. Diplomacy Center, scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., in 2018, as an education center and interactive museum for the public.







Eisenhower Memorial


A single act or character trait may be instrumental in deciding an individual’s future path. In Dwight D. Eisenhower’s case, it was because of his perseverance in requesting a recommendation from his U.S. Senator – twice – that he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. This is just one of the interesting details of Eisenhower’s life discovered as the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) developed lesson plans and timeline content for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s website .

The website provides a preview of the forthcoming physical memorial near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as well as highlights of Eisenhower’s achievements as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and as the 34th president of the United States. As part of the site’s educational mission, significant events in Eisenhower’s life are explored through seven Pivotal Moments: West Point, D-Day, NATO, Winning the Presidency, Waging Peace, Little Rock, and Space Race via text, photographs and videos. The videos contain interviews with President William J. Clinton, Secretary of State Colin Powell, astronauts John Glenn and Eileen Collins, and Eisenhower’s grandson David Eisenhower among others.

RRCHNM created the content for an interactive timeline that connects viewers with key events in both Eisenhower’s life and in world history during his lifetime. His life spanned an era of great change from the closing of the American frontier in 1890, the year of his birth, to the first landing on the moon in 1969, the year Eisenhower died. The timeline contextualizes Eisenhower’s achievements within other national and world events.

RRCHNM worked with secondary school teachers and military historian Christopher Hamner to develop middle and high school curriculum units based on these seven pivotal moments. Teachers can download the freely available units and related materials for classroom use.

In “D-Day: Advising Eisenhower,” for example, students explore the complexity of preparing for a massive invasion by acting as advisors to General Eisenhower. They provide him with vital information about geography, weather, German air capabilities, and French Resistance support in the region.

In “The 1952 Election: A New Kind of Campaign,” students learn how the introduction of television changed the way presidential campaigns were run and develop a media strategy for Eisenhower on one campaign issue.

A wide variety of primary and secondary sources are included in the lesson plans, such as D-Day maps, images from the early years of space exploration, and de-classified government documents. There is also a letter from an advisor recommending that Eisenhower consider George Washington’s Farewell Speech as inspiration for his own final speech to the nation as president. Each plan contains suggestions for differentiation and assessment. These units will be useful for teaching World War II, 20th-century U.S. and world history.

Annual Report 2015-2016

rrchnm_arTo keep friends and supporters of RRCHNM better informed about our ongoing work, this year we inaugurated a short annual report. Produced in collaboration with the Development Office of College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the report was mailed out in late October.

The annual report describes project launches and grants for new projects in the academic year 2015-2016. In it you can find brief descriptions of five of those new projects, and of a busy year of teaching, training, and professional development. The last year also saw a new website, new servers, and a new postdoctoral fellowship. A report on the Center’s endowment completes the document.

A copy can be downloaded here.

Our New Digital History Fellows & Their Work on RRCHNM’s History

Laura Crossley

Laura Crossley

Jessica Dauterive

Jessica Dauterive

This semester RRCHNM welcomes two new DH Fellows, Laura Crossley and Jessica Dauterive.
This year the Fellows practicum at the Center began with a seminar with Stephen Robertson, the director. The goal was to explore the role of centres in digital humanities, put RRCHNM in the context of other centres, and explore the 22 years of work the Center has done in the context of the development of digital history and DH. As part of the seminar, the Fellows each created an exhibit telling the story of an RRCHNM project using material on the site created for our 20th anniversary. Laura’s exhibit explored the Object of History; you can find her reflections on the project on the Fellows blog. Jessica’s exhibit explored The Lost Museum; her reflections can be found here.

In recent weeks the Fellows have been working in the Education division. Look out for their blog posts on their work there early in the New Year.

The Department of History & Art History at George Mason University is offering two Digital History Fellowships to support students beginning a Ph.D. in Fall 2017. As this is the final year of the funding from the Provost that supports the award, this cohort of Fellows will each receive only one year of funding at $20,000, in addition to three years of funding from the History Department, and undertake a one year practicum course for credit at RRCHNM. Students interested in applying to the GMU History PhD program and being a Digital History Fellow, should consult the information on the department website or contact the department’s graduate director, Professor Cindy Kierner. Applications close January 15, 2017