Digital Tools

Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of digital tools that are useful for history research and pedagogy. I have also included some tools that can be useful not only for digital projects, but in the aid of traditional history scholarship. Recommendations will be based on the nature of the research or pedagogical goals and matching technical skills required with the faculty or the student’s technological skills and interest.

Web Hosting

Reclaim Hosting An inexpensive and academic-centered US-based hosting service. It also has an embedded FTP and an easy install feature for WordPress, Omeka, Drupal, and other applications that can help get those with limited tech skills up and running quickly. Reclaim runs on a LAMP server, and plays well with stacked technology applications. (
BlueHost Affordable hosting and cloud service. Global company with server farms around the world. Supports WordPress and other CMS. (

Annotation Useful for annotating and recording research notes on web pages, digital PDFs, as well as collaborating. ( Free.
ThingLink An annotation tool for images. ( Free.

Research Management

RefWorks An online bibliographic management program developed by ProQuest. Subscription required. Access offered by many university libraries.
Zotero A web-based research organization system that can import, organize and store your research files, and make them searchable via a single interface. Developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Free, with premium storage subscription available.
Scrivener Not technically a research management program, but it creates project binders and allows for the importing of research notes and PDFs and tagging that can be useful for organizing research and writing. See Michael Hattem’s Junto post “Dissertating with Scrivener” from 5 Sept. 2016. His schema can also be used for writing books or articles. (


Digital Storytelling

These are all free.  Adobe also has a great suite of tools.

Scalar An open-source scholarly publishing platform for visual culture. Hosted by USC. Offers free online tutorials. (
Twine A free open-source tool that can be used to create interactive nonlinear stories. (
StoryMapJS A free web based authoring tool that can be used in the creation of media-enriched maps. Developed by Knightlab at Northwestern University.  (
StoryMap ESRI’s free web based authoring tool that can be used in the creation of media-enriched maps. (
Timeline A free web based tool that produces media-enriched timelines. Developed by Knightlab at Northwestern University (
Juxtapose A free web based app that produces before/after style slider images. Developed by Knightlab at Northwestern University. (
SoundCite A free web based editor that can be used to add inline audio files to your media content. Developed by Knightlab at Northwestern University. (
Audacity An open-source editor for audio files. (

Content Management Systems (Exhibits, Archives, etc)

WordPress Free online blog-centered content management system. Includes a large number of free templates, and a visual editor for non-tech people. Also includes an HTML and CSS editor for more advanced users. (
Omeka An open source content management system designed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University for the production of online exhibits and digital collections. Requires no coding background. Limited templates, but has a large number of open-source plug-ins. (
Omeka S Beta release in late October. Improved integration with DSpace and Fedora Commons. Pre-release documentation available on Github (
Mukurtu An open-source Omeka-based platform configured for working with indigenous community partners. (
Drupal A flexible open-source web platform for publishing a range of content (

Textual Analysis

Gephi A free multiple platform program that can be used to produce data visualizations. It requires no programming background, but does tend to have difficulty processing large datasets. Performance has improved with subsequent releases.  (
D3 Stands for “Data-Driven Documents.” A javascript library that uses HTML, CSS, and SVG (scalable vector graphics) protocols to visualize data. (
Voyant Web based tool for reading and analysis of digital texts. (
SAS Software used for text-mining and analysis. (
R-Studio A free, downloadable editor for R-language. R is an incredibly powerful programming language that is useful for data analysis and statistical work. Free courses can be found on Code School or Coursera. Lincoln Mullen (GMU) also has a forthcoming book on R-Language for humanists (

Geospatial Tools

Note: I have left out Google Maps because the Google Maps Engine is no longer supported.

Carto (Formerly CartoDB) A platform for using location data. Import your own csv files. Requires no coding. Free accounts are restricted to five layers. (
Neatline An open source Omeka add-on for telling stories with maps and timelines. (
Map Warper Free online tool for georectifying maps. (
Leaflet An open source javascript library for mobile-friendly maps. Available as an Omeka plugin. Great for creating tours or other location-based projects. (
QGIS A free standalone GIS platform that runs on Windows, OS, and Linux machines. Some limitations on updates and managing larger datasets. (
ArcGIS ESRI’s longtime powerful, proprietary PC-based GIS platform. ArcGIS Online offers a scalable service that can respond to user demands.  (
ArcGIS StoryMap ESRI’s platform for producing media-enriched maps (
Open Geoportal Consortium A non-profit community working to make open-source standards for geospatial work (
CurateScape A web-based platform for building location-based content. Works on an Omeka platform. The phone app is proprietary, but the code for the website is open source and available on Github. (
Google Earth An open-source platform that can be used for finding coordinates. (

Virtual Modeling

SketchUp A free (with some paid premium content) computer-aided design (CAD) program for 3D modeling. (


Brief List of Readings for Getting Started (non-exhaustive):

Cohen, Daniel J. and Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. George Mason University Center for History and New Media. URL:

While somewhat dated, Digital History provides a good overview for thinking about the presentation of history in web environments.

Gibbs, Fred. “Tutorials,” Fred Gibbs (blog). URL:

Gibbs has a number of useful tutorials, particularly on getting started with geospatial projects.

————-. “From Theory to Practice in the Digital Humanities,” Bildungsgeschichte. International Journal for the Historiography for Education (Jan. 2015): 95-99. URL:

An overview for thinking about how to apply digital methodologies to scholarly problems.

Gibbs, Fred. “A Critical Discourse in the Digital Humanities,” Journal of Digital Humanities, 1.1 (Winter 2011). URL:

Gibbs unpacks some of the challenges in evaluating digital scholarship.

Klein, Lauren F. and Matthew Gold K. Debates in the Digital Humanities (2016).

An open source textbook on Digital Humanities

Leon, Sharon. “User-Centered Digital Public History” URL:

A website centered on discussing practices for translating good historical scholarship to a non-academic audience.

Schmidt, Benjamin M. “Buying a Computer For Digital Humanities Work,” Benjamin M. Schmidt (blog). 12 June 2015. URL:

General advice on computing power needed for different types of DH work.

Spiro, Lisa. “Getting Started in the Digital Humanities,” Digital Scholarship (blog). 14 October 2011. URL:

A gentle introduction to the digital humanities.

————-. “Studying How Digital Humanists Use Github,” Digital Scholarship (blog). 11 May 2016. URL:

An introduction to the open source repository used by programmers and digital scholars to share code.

The Programming Historian. URL:

User-friendly peer-reviewed tutorials for learning to code.