Digital Books and the Future of Historical Studies in HE

10 05 2011

Like many historians, I found online books to be a great innovation. Google Books is the most famous digitizer of books, but for historians perhaps the most useful provider is the Internet Archive.The internet archive contains some wonderful gems, including several editions of Pehr Kalm’s journal of his travels in North America in the late 1740s. Kalm was a Finnish naturalist whose account of life in New France has been drawn upon by many of historians of early North America. One of the assignments in the pre-Confederation history class I taught in Canada involved reading the description of Montreal contained in the edition of the journal printed in London in 1770-1. This assigment gave students to read an actual primary source and is always quite popular.

Back in November, Digital Campus, the podcast of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, broadcast an interesting discussion of digital books. I just discovered this podcast now and find it fascinating. It gets me thinking about what sort of assignments I might be giving in a decade. You can hear the podcast by clicking here.

If you haven’t already explored the rich holdings of the Internet Archive, I recommend that you do so right away!

Appearance of the Internet Archive Main Page

Is Google Books Good for Historians?

10 01 2010

This topic was debated at the recent meeting of the American Historical Association in San Diego. See here. Hat tip to JL.