May 21 2013

The Digital History Fellowship


During my first year at George Mason University, I was pleased to be a participant in the newly minted Digital History Fellowship, which is composed of Ph.D. students who have won the Digital History Research Award. The award and fellowship resulted from a coordinated effort between the Office of the Provost, Department of History and Art History, and Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

The fellowship was first announced in December 2011, and so I was fortunate to be in the first group of applicants who would be automatically considered for the award. The first cohort of Digital History Fellows, as we’re now called, includes Amanda Morton, Ben Hurwitz, and me.

Part of our work as DH Fellows is to write down some of the narratives and observations that we experience during our time at the center and the university in general. To facilitate that writing and to stimulate conversations about our experiences in digital history, we have been using a WordPress blog under the expected title, Digital History Fellowship.

This term, we spent five weeks with each of the divisions in the center, and for public projects we wrote short posts about our work. In my post, I wrote about transcription projects and how they can be an unexpected source of research material. Amanda wrote about history that can be uncovered when sorting through documents to find important metadata, while Ben noted a possible link between the War Department and his own research about colonial South Africa.

The fellowship has been an interesting road to follow; as the first group, we were mindful of the negotiations that took place in order to fit our work into larger projects and to figure out how our contributions would be evaluated or converted into those ever-important grades. With the faculty and staff, we’ve found answers to some of those questions, but I imagine that future cohorts will face their own set of problems. As a new kind of fellowship in a fairly new field (graduate digital history education), there are many opportunities for new questions and innovative answers.

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