Collaboration in the Historical Field

Since we have been exploring the world of digital history throughout the semester, I figured that this topic would eventually come up. One thing that I have noticed while working with the fields of digital and public history is that collaboration is key to success, whereas traditional history focuses on one author, one book. However, as Dr. Kelly mentioned earlier, there is some type of collaboration in that process as well that makes the end product possible. With public and digital projects, the product can be multi-authored. There is also the aspect of working with the community, where even further collaboration is needed to make the project happen. 

As you all are used to by now, one article in particular stuck out to me this week– “Improvising Digital History in the Deep South Digital Desert.” Being from Tennessee originally and doing most of my undergraduate and graduate work until now in Florida, I have dealt with the issue of digital history being taken seriously. Michael Mizell-Nelson says, “More students will undertake and complete digital projects once their thesis or dissertation advisors and entire departments value – and not merely approve of or tolerate – such work.” At my MA program, we had an option of a public or digital history project, but it was not the encouraged choice. With the research programs, collaborative projects were not encouraged, as only one person could “win” the forum, even if it was collaborative.

Once more programs and historians embrace collaboration and digital history, I believe that we will get more creative projects from it. I think I’m just rambling at this point, I believe, as I like the idea of being able to collaborate. I want more creativity, and I want the field to embrace it more!


4 thoughts on “Collaboration in the Historical Field

  1. One of the things that CLIO has made me realize is that basically all of historical practice is, at this point, oriented around getting an academic job, and then getting tenure. It seems like the biggest hurdle digital and collaborative methods have to clear is getting enough recognition that they become an accepted part of the hiring an promotion process.

  2. Anne,
    I agree! Digital history is innovative, new, and highly collaborative. I hope that every institution will adopt it soon, not just tolerate it.
    As for the multi-author vs single author aspect, I would think that collaborating on digital history projects increases experience, networking, and recognition. It should be an asset, not a obstacle.

  3. I agree – we need more institutional changes to encourage collaboration!

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