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Syracuse University Libraries

Digital Humanities Resources: Types of DH Projects

Digital Humanities Project Possibilities

The Digital Humanities is a rich field that is constantly developing with new technologies. Due to the broadness of the discipline, it is impossible to categorize every project or even present every available category. These are a few popular project types with good examples of major projects available, but the possibilities really are endless!  

Databases

This type of project is one of the more common Digital Humanities projects, as digital technologies have revolutionized the ways in which scholars can interact with bulk data. These are a few currently usable databases that were developed by Digital Humanists and can be accessed by Syracuse University affiliates, or the public at large. 

Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade

Active since 2018, this database compiles multiple digital datasets to provide a comprehensive search engine for scholars interesting in the lives of enslaved people. Their mission is to help provide richly detailed stories of lives of those who were enslaved, recovering important and often overlooked voices in history. The search engine can be used to find out more about people, places, and events associated with the historical slave trade and can be accessed by any member of the public. 

Early Modern Manuscripts Online 

This database is associated with and sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the world's largest Shakespeare collection. The online collection of 16th and 17th century manuscripts is fully searchable, as each text has been transcribed, and provides relevant collections information about each item. It is still in the early stages but is worth looking at as an example of a searchable and digitized manuscript collection. 

College Women

Established in 2014 and sponsored by Bryn Mawr, this database is a searchable portal of a variety of archival material pertaining to the experiences of women at the Seven Sisters colleges. The dataset includes diaries, letters, scrapbooks, and photographs prior to 1945. 

 

Mapping

These type of projects usually build off of the same kind of methodologies as databases, but they visualize the data geographically and present humanities arguments based on changes to physical space over time. 

Racial Violence Archive

This project gathers and shares information related to racially motivated violence in the United States. It currently includes instances of violence in the mid 20th century in a handful of Southern states, but is working to expand to cover more geographical and temporal boundaries. The project is still incomplete but has several maps currently usable and available to the public. 

DECIMA

DECIMA refers both the acronym Digitally Encoded Census Information & Mapping Archive and to a type of early modern Italian tax document from which it takes most of its' data. The project seeks to track human movement in the city of Florence in the 15th and 16th centuries through the larger DECIMA web map and through several specialized maps, such as those tracking neighborhood churches or spaces of sex work. It is currently accessible to the public and scholars are able to utilize the data to build their own specialized maps. 

This Was Paris in 1970

This project is a compilation of the photographs that remain from a 1970 urban photography competition that took place in Paris. The current website allows users to click on locations in the city map and look at the photos of that specific place. This is a great example of a mapping application of an existing set of data which heightens the effect of the original work. 

Virtual Reality

VR projects can be some of the most exciting and transformative Digital Humanities projects, but also some of the most challenging to execute well. They are best utilized to reconstruct spaces or experiences no longer possible today, allowing for an immersive investigation of humanities questions. There are few examples of truly functional VR projects but these are a few that have been made available to the public. 

San Pier Maggiore 3D

This project was produced by the same team that created the Hidden Florence app, which provides immersive stories through site-specific walks in the city of Florence. This project seeks to reconstruct the now lost church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence and can be used on-site through their app. More information on this project process can be found on their YouTube channel: 

Shakespeare-VR

This project, primarily meant for educators but available to the public for free, reconstructs Shakespearean performances in their original setting, the Globe Theatre, and allows the software users to interact with the scenes as one of the characters. Romeo and Juliet is currently available for use, with other plays in development now. See a video sample of the experience here: 

Other Projects

These are a few websites which keep good lists of ongoing DH projects, usually affiliated with the sponsoring institution of the site. 

Digital Humanities at MIT

MIT supports a variety of Digital Humanities projects, especially through faculty grants distributed each semester. This page has a list of their currently sponsored projects, some of which are already available to view online. 

Digital Humanities at Stanford 

Like MIT, Stanford is well-known as a leader in the US for sponsoring innovative DH projects. This website lists their active and past projects, which provides a diverse set of project examples from many different Humanities fields, many of which use highly sophisticated technological tools.