From the Archival to the Digital Turn: A Lesson on Source Criticism

Cite As

  • Stefania Scagliola, Cristina Garcia Martin, Max Kemman, Juliane Tatarinov, Florentina Armaselu, Estelle Bunout and Marten Düring (2018). From the Archival to the Digital Turn: A Lesson on Source Criticism. Version 1.0.0. Edited by Stefania Scagliola, Gerben Zaagsma and Andreas Fickers. ranke2lu. [Training module]. https://ranke2.uni.lu/u/archival-digital-turn/

Reuse conditions

The objective of this lesson is to teach students how the digital turn has affected the method of applying source criticism to a historical source. Source criticism comes down to asking questions about the origin, authenticity and informational and artefactual value of a source. When applying it to digital content an additional layer of alterations and transformations has to be identified and described. This lesson teaches learners the difference between attributing meaning to an artefact during its creation, its preservation and its digitisation. The assignments can be used to put this into practice with various types of data and in different digital environments.

archival digital turn
> Frame still of the video _From archival to digital turn_

As historians, we are confronted with an abundance of data in digital form that can be searched, annotated, analysed, presented and reused with the help of a broad array of digital tools.

But what do we know about how digital technology affects the artefactual and informational value of a source?

When looking through the lens of source criticism to digitized and digital born sources, there are so many mediating processes going on before a source can appear on our screen, that historians run the risk of getting detached from the original context of the source.

The premise of the lesson From the Archival to the Digital turn available on the Ranke.2 platform is that historians of the 21st century need to have a basic understanding of the process of digitisation, of the creation of digital born sources and of the algorithms that drive search engines.

Explore Ranke.2 by venturing into a mix of animations, quizzes and hands on assignments.

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