HSTRY 489 A: Digital History

Spring 2022
M 1:30pm - 3:20pm / SMI 203E
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Using an IBM 704 computer at NACA (National Archives/NASA)

History 489/595 – Digital Historical Practices

Professor Margaret O’Mara (she/her)

Class time and location: Mondays 1:30-3:20, Sieg Hall 229 [location may change to Smith Hall, TBD]

Office: 312A Smith Hall

Office hours: MW in-person or Zoom; other days Zoom; all by appointment

Email: momara@uw.edu

Personal website: www.margaretomara.com 

Computer hardware, software, and the internet have fundamentally changed many aspects of the historian’s work in the early twenty-first century.  We use digital tools to perform research and use primary and secondary sources that have been digitized or born-digital altogether. We teach on digital platforms and use software tools to create and evaluate student work. The transformation of publishing in the internet era has changed much about the way historians and other humanists share their work with wider audiences and have made the profession as a whole more public-facing than it was a generation earlier. The digital tools with which we practice history are, like all technologies, not neutral and have a history of their own.

 This course will consider the uses, opportunities, and ethical considerations of practicing history in a digital age. The term will be broken into five two-week units:

  • The history of digital history
  • Digital technologies and society
  • The research process
  • Teaching and learning
  • Practicing history in public


  • Class engagement, discussion, weekly written posts and responses on shared class Google doc (40%)
  • Leading prep, introduction, moderation of Q&A with one guest speaker (10%)
  • Research report and presentation on one digital tool of your choice (10%)
  • Book review on a work of your choosing that is either a) a book about the practice of digital scholarship or b) a monograph that utilizes digital tools to process and present its findings (10%)
  • Final project that is either a) a 15-20 pp historiographic essay on digital scholarship or b) original research project created using digital tool[s] for information gathering, analysis, or presentation. This can be a paper, a website, a podcast or videocast, et al. (30%)

All readings are available electronically, either in PDF form on the course Canvas or as e-books at the University Libraries. If you like, you may purchase hard copies of the two books we will read in full (Data Feminism and Artificial Unintelligence) at the University Bookstore. We also will read, explore, and analyze digital history projects online.

Here is our syllabus.

Catalog Description:
Offers a grounding in some key technologies relevant to research and teaching in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Introduces an array of relevant technologies, including close and distant readings of texts, mapping and visualization, digital storytelling, content management and migration, and social media.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
February 23, 2024 - 2:12 am