Exploring History and Digital Methods: A Collaborative Initiative by IN_CONTEXT and Dean College

The “Exploring History and Digital Methods”-initiative aims to connect Dean College’s vibrant history student body with the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin’s (Stabi) unique historical collections and expertise in digital methods and historical research. Specifically the Stabi’s historical collections and their relationship to histories of colonialism, as identified by IN_CONTEXT, are important sources for the study of the past and are readily accessible via the Stabi’s Digitized Collections. Dean College’s Digital History curriculum is an excellent format to bring students in contact with these collections and to explore novel methods in critical digital history analysis.

Based on the Stabi’s Digitized Collections, Professor David B. Dennis and Dr. John Woitkowitz are curating a collection of historical source material for students to design their own digital humanities project. In addition to access to digitized source material, the initiative features guest seminars taught remotely at Dean College. Dr. Woitkowitz will introduce students to the topic of metadata and the process of transforming analog source material into machine-readable primary sources. Students will learn to mark up historical documents, using schemas as defined in the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and other Linked Open Data standards. As part of this process, they will reflect critically on the implications of re-creating historical material for the digital realm, colonial knowledge orders and the classification of digital-born data for historical research.

The output of students’ digital humanities projects will take a range of forms and, following a review, will be considered for publication in the „Citizen Historian Sourcebook“ of the New England Journal of History (NEJH). The document portfolio created by students includes an Editorial Note, a bibliography and a XML/TEI encoded metadata file. The Editorial Note will assess the argument, content, and historical context of the primary source while a list for further reading is included in the bibliography. The students’ XML/TEI-markup of the historical document will also provide the basis for the Citizen Historian Sourcebook metadata. It will, moreover, be made accessible for further use as research data. Finally, presenting the students‘ document portfolios in the form of virtual exhibitions co-hosted by the Stabi and the NEJH is also under consideration.


November 13th and 15th, 2023
Guest lectures on „Metadata and Primary Sources in the Digital Age“ and „XML/TEI Encoding Workshop“ taught by Dr. John Woitkowitz

Datasets and Metadata

Datasets and individual XML/TEI metadata files will be published here.


Dr. John Woitkowitz
Research Associate
IN_CONTEXT: Colonial Histories and Digital Collections
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Germany
Digital Editor, New England Journal of History

Prof. Dr. David B. Dennis
Professor of History
Humanities Program Coordinator
Dean College, MA, United States
Digital Editor, New England Journal of History