Kalani Craig, Ph.D.

Fall 2019: Digital History

Welcome to Digital History!

The practical details

What is this class about?

This semester is all about how we make history in the digital world. History isn't just about where your grandparents emigrated from or what some famous person did 3 centuries ago. It's also about that mug you just drank coffee out of and how we can communicate the story of that mug in a world where smartphones theoretically put everything we'd ever want to know about mugs at our fingertips.

How will this class work?

This is a hands-on research-oriented history course built on partnerships with other on-campus researchers and historians that culminates in a public display of your digital-history research (provided it's fit for public consumption; putting your name on your part of the project is entirely optional). As such, your regular presence is vital because this syllabus will be partially built by you. Our semester will be divided into 2 units that each have a little bit of overlap.

  • Digital History In Public: In the first 8 weeks, we'll work with the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society and the Institute for Digital Arts Humanities to do a History Harvest as we explore what it means to gather and present history in an online environment. In a History Harvest, we go out in to the IU community and work with the public to build a digital exhibit of objects that represent Hoosier identity. As we get further toward the History Harvest collection days (Oct 3/8/10), we'll shift our focus to Big Data Analytical Tools in History and look at how the algorithms behind mapping, text analysis and network analysis let us understand historical primary sources.
  • Digital-history Analysis: During the second 8 weeks, each person will join forces with a small team to learn more about one of the big three digital techniques and then apply that analytical focus to a digital-history analysis of the objects we gathered during our History Harvest. Our goal will be a research project about Hoosier identity in an online format that accompanies our History Harvest objects.

It's public, so exactly who will see my work?

At the end of the semester, we'll have built 2 things: an object collection of the History Harvest and several online exhibits that put IU's history on display. In our case, CRRES is working with IDAH and the Arts Humanities Council to put together a exhibit in Wells Library's lobby in Spring of 2020 that's part of the IU Bicentennial's Indiana Remixed project.

What will I get out of this?

Well, obviously, you'll learn more about IU's history. You'll also get project management, data science and data visualization skills, some basic HTML, and community-organizing skills. Finally, successful students who contribute high-quality work* and choose to use their full name on the public projects** will have a University-sponsored portfolio piece that demonstrates all of these historical, public-impact and digital skills to potential employers.

* "High-quality" is at my discretion and requires historical accuracy and original work.

** Your work is yours and so is your privacy. Students with privacy concerns can a.) appear on the author list via a pseudonym; b.) choose to include their work without authorship attribution; c.) redact their work entirely (the latter after a conversation with me one-on-one) without penalty after the poster session.

Course Meeting:
T/Th 4-5:15
Aug 26-Dec 20, 2019
Jordan A106, IUB
HIST-H301 #32682
Professor: Kalani Craig

Office Hours: By appointment on Zoom
Email: craigkl@indiana.edu
Web site: www.kalanicraig.com
Twitter: @kalanicraig

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  1. Starting Items
  2. In-Class Activities
  3. Bookmarking a Net.Create Login
  4. Project Plan
  5. Readings & Course Materials
  6. Assignments and Grading
  7. Welcome to Digital History!
  8. Sample Wireframe
  9. Conduct (Yours and Ours)

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Starting Items

Converse map personal polaroid pictures Shoes
Dance shoes Mugs phone Shoes
Doc martens Multi-colored light bulb photos from home Stuffed Animals
feminist pins my Vans Pin sweatshirt
Flags necklace/ring Poster Television
Guitar Necklaces Pottery Timberland Boots
Hoosier Cabinet Old photographs/scrapbooks Record Player Vitamin Gummies
IU shirtfor gameday Origami books/paper Refrigerator Wall Phone
Letters Paintbrushes Ring Wallet
letters Pants Rings water bottle
Letters weighted blanket

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In-Class Activities

The Final!

We have two things to fill out in class today, and several other things to do in between, so I'm sending an announcement to make sure you have access to the links:

  1. At the beginning of class: End of Semester Reflection on Course Participation
  2. Work until 5:45. Make sure your demonstration includes:
    1. Your research question
    2. The answer to your research question
    3. How you used your group's digital method to find answers to that research question
  3. After the 4 digital methods-presentations: Digital Tools End of Semester Reflection
  4. Profit... (Enjoy break!)

2019-12-05 History Learning Outcomes

We have two things to fill out in class today, so I'm sending an announcement to make sure you have access to the links:

  1. Midway through classEnd of Semester History Learning Reflection
  2. At the end of class: https://coursequestionnaire.iu.edu/Blue/ (Links to an external site.) (please wait to take this until I leave the classroom)

2019-11-07 Data entry as a research activity

2019-11-05 Generating research questions from keywords

2019-10-31 Making web pages reflect digital history

Adding links, images, and embeds

  • How do you insert links in Markdown?
    • [text in brackets will be underlined/linked to the URL](https://www.google.com)
  • How do you embed other images, like a screenshot of our Net.Create network?
    • ![this will become your caption](/H301HistoryHarvest/assets/images)!
  • How do you embed stuff like YouTube, Voyant, and Google My Maps? Get the website to give you code that’s surrounded by...
    • <iframe>…</iframe>
    • Wrap that with a back-tick, ` (key to the left of ‘1’ on your keyboard) on either side, so…
    • `<iframe>…</iframe>`

2019-10-29 Making Web pages in Github

  • Github—our web-based backend with a filesystem for keeping track of and editing files
  • H301 History Harvest Class Website—our website frontend driven by the Github backend
  • Template for Sample Item
    • In our Github backend, navigate to /_items/USETHISEXAMPLE.md

2019-10-24 IU Archives

2019-10-22: Object wireframes

2019-09-24: Mapping Hoosiers

2019-09-05: Digital Methods in Analyzing History (an analog primer)

2019-09-03: Presenting History in Digital Form

2019-08-29: What is Micro-History

2019-08-27: Class Intro

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Bookmarking a Net.Create Login

To bookmark your group’s network (and to avoid having to log in again each time you want to edit), navigate to your group’s network URL on Chrome, and enter your individual NetCreate ID in the log in field:

Once you’ve typed in your individual ID code and hit log in, the page should refresh, and you’ll see your code in the top left of the screen:

Note that the “TEAM IU” code is not yours! Enter your individual code that you’ve been given on a slip of paper with your name on it.

When you log in, the page will refresh, and then the URL will have updated to include your code. This is what mine looks like:

Click the star on the right hand side of the URL bar (in Chrome) to bookmark the page with the updated URL – when you click on this bookmark in the future, it should automatically put you in editing mode, so that you don’t have to re-log in to your group’s network each time!

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Project Plan


  • Vision and Innovation
    • Why this is new
  • Goals
    • Research questions
    • Expected results
  • Need and Context
    • Lit review
  • Research Methods
    • How you will do it
  • Research Plan Proposed Schedule
    • Schedule
    • List of deliverables
  • Intellectual Merits
    • Why this is academically rigorous
  • Broader Impacts
    • Who will read this
    • Integrating fun output into academic output (e.g. Instagram vs object catalog with metadata)
  • Personnel
    • Who are our experts in which domains
  • Budget
    • What will we buy
  • Informal

    • Team member expectations
    • Conflict resolution mechanisms
    • Project/to-do list tracking structure
      • Tools and protocols


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Readings & Course Materials

Required readings

A variety of readings are drawn academic sources like JSTOR, websites like history harvest and scanned sources in Canvas Files. All readings are required and should be complete before class begins on the date the reading is assigned in the Course Calendar.

There is an optional textbook (~$10) that provides basic context and the themes that make a historian a historian: Nigel Raab, Who is the Historian (available as an ebook at https://www.amazon.com/Who-Historian-Nigel-Raab/dp/144263572X/).

How to read

History is primarily about argumentation, but a basic understanding of chronology and detail recall is also necessary. Figuring out *which* details to recall is easier when you have a framework. That means the best way to deal with a historical source is to read it twice.

The first pass is a quick skim. Look for important and/or repeating names/dates/places/events, and themes. Where do these mentions shift from one set of names to another, and how does that help you understand basic structure?

The second close-read pass helps you fill in details, put those details in context, and make more careful decisions about what the author intended his or her audience to do, think, or believe.

Remember: not all historical sources are written, but we can still "read" an image or an architectural plan or a quilt like historians.

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Assignments and Grading

I want you to attempt new skills without requiring that you instantly master all of those new skills. In all categories, demonstrable improvement throughout the semester will be rewarded. 

To take full advantage of this mastery assessment process, you should attend class, participate in discussion, project building and peer review, complete response revisions in a timely fashion and demonstrate ongoing effort throughout the semester.

Reflections: 8 short writing encounters (some in-class, some before class, some after class) that will ask you to engage with the readings and activities in the first half of our semester, in which we get to know the world of digital and micro-histories. To encourage further risk taking and to encourage mastery rather than completion, these are graded on the depth of your engagement with that week's topic. 16 pts.

Individual History Harvest annotated bibliography: This project, due in week 4, will hone your individual research skills by asking you to anchor an annotated bibliography of secondary sources around the object you choose. 4 pts.

Individual History Harvest Micro-History: This project, due in week 9, will draw on your work with the History Harvest to hhone your individual research skills. You'll prep a "wireframe", the bones of an exhibit about several objects that fit together and interest you from the Oct 3/8/10 History Harvest. The wireframe should focus on one historical argument you drew from your research, include full exhibit text and place these into a map. These will all be contextualized by the information from your secondary source bibliography. 20 pts.

Digital history collaboration: The second half of the semester will focus on developing a small-scale group historical project using one or more of the digital tools you’ve encountered to analyze, and present your analysis of, objects from the IU community This collaboration grade will be adjusted based on a 2-page response paper that asks you to defend specific choices you made in your contributions to the group project and on anonymous peer review of your contribution to the project. 40 pts (35 from the group project and 5 from the response paper)

Course engagement: Getting involved in a historical conversation, whether in person or in writing, is the single most important task a historian undertakes. Adding your voice to in-class discussion and providing peer reviews of other students’ projects will help you hone your historical thinking skills by exposing you to alternative viewpoints. These activities will also improve your ability to communicate critiques of your peers’ analytical and writing skills in both oral and written form. Students who attend regularly and do the reading in advance but do not bring written notes to class, contribute to class activities or participate fully in group projects and peer review will earn a maximum of half of the possible participation points. Class disruptions, such as audible talking or cellphones ringing, will lead to deductions from the course-engagement grade. 20 pts.

Attendance: You may miss two classes without penalty. If you know you'll be gone in advance, it's helpful to let me know. Otherwise, I don't distinguish between excused and unexcused for these two absences and I don't need notesBeyond these two classes, you will lose 2 points for each additional absence. Students with extended or chronic illnesses are not subject to the 2-class penalty; however, chronic-illness absences will require documentation and makeups for in-class responses will not be offered.

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Sample Wireframe



Charles the Bald (?), 9th century freestanding bronze statue

Between the the equestrian statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (cast in around 175 and now on the Capitoline Hill) and the Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata (by Donatello, dating from 1453), only one freestanding bronze statue is still extant. This statue of either Charlemagne (d 813) or his grandchild Charles the Bald (d 877) is a mere 8 inches high, compared to the 14 feet heights of both Marcus Aurelius and the Gattamelata. These statues are a stand-in for the ways that the Middle Ages are treated as in between (and inferior to) the Roman Imperial period and the Renaissance, although the general labelling of the "Dark Ages" has been refuted by scholars who point out major scientific advances like the breaking of white light into a spectrum by Roger Bacon, etc.

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Conduct (Yours and Ours)

Your personal conduct

You should treat other course participants, research subjects and instructional staff with respect. Respect is not the same as agreement. Respect means using respectful language when stating your ideas, asking questions or disagreeing with others. In class it means avoiding disruptive behavior (talking to other students outside of discussion, using laptops or cellphones for unrelated work). Smartphones, tablets and laptops are welcome in the classroom, but only when they are used for work directly related to our class inquiry.

If you have an issue that interferes with your ability to maintain normal participation in day to day life, there are resources available on campus. Student Affairs can assist with a disability for which you need additional considerations; these include both long-term chronic physical/mental/emotional issues and short-term acute injuries (like broken fingers or mono). CAPS and the Center for Human Growth Counseling Services provides acute services for personal issues; just as important, they can help you document long-term emotional/mental issues that qualify you for disability services. It's your responsibility to take the first step but we can help.

Your conduct in public

This course involves a significant amount of public-facing history, engagement with academic and community professionals, and work with real everyday people. Your conduct should conform to professional standards that include respect according to the classroom conduct outlined above. You should also be prepared to show up on time at a variety of different places in and near Bloomington's campus but not necessarily in our classroom during our T/Th 4-5:15 class meeting, and occasionally as arranged with your classmates and the instructor, outside of our class times. All of our meeting locations and times are readily visible in the Canvas Calendar.

Your academic conduct

"Plagiarism—A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge an indebtedness whenever he or she does any of the following:

  1. Quotes another person's actual words, either oral or written;
  2. Paraphrases another person's words, either oral or written;
  3. Uses another person's idea, opinion, or theory; or
  4. Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge."

(Quoted from Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part III, Student Misconduct, Academic Misconduct)

This is the grossest form of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism will result in an automatic failing grade in the course. The case will also be forwarded to the appropriate administrators for disciplinary action. IU-Bloomington general course policies are available at http://registrar.indiana.edu/stu_infopoli.shtml. I do utilize plagiarism-detection software (Turnitin, etc.) when I suspect there has been academic misconduct.

Our conduct

This syllabus has thus far emphasized what you are supposed to do, but we as your instructors have responsibilities too. We will treat you with respect, encourage a comfortable classroom environment, and return your assignments with constructive comments in a timely fashion (barring unforeseen circumstances). We will be in class as scheduled, on time, and will be readily available for office-hours consultations. We will answer Canvas Messages promptly during business hours, again barring unforeseen circumstances, and are happy to schedule additional time to discuss your work, any difficulties you may be having or to answer any questions you may be worried about asking in class. We're happy to talk more about the class but you need to take the first steps and ask. NB: please do note that we are not available after 5 or on weekends.

If you have a learning disability, a chronic illness, a time conflict, or another issue that may impact your involvement in the course, we are happy to accommodate your documented needs. We simply need to know about these issues in advance of any assignments or other work that may be affected. Please come see us as soon as possible.

You are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructional staff to discuss papers and/or issues raised in class.

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