This course offers the background and technological skills to produce web-based historical information. It also seeks to expand our understanding of the historian’s role in the context of the contemporary information revolution, considering a multitude of economic and community alternatives for students and scholars of history given the current and ever-changing technological possibilities.

Students will learn how to research, organize and present in-depth historical information on the internet not only for libraries, museums, schools and other public access institutions for public consumption, but also for private purchasers such as businesses, non-profits, government organizations, and private individuals and families, for the purposes of planning, development, publicity, genealogies, etc. They will develop skills in historical research including oral history; in website design; and in videography. They will also explore a variety of contemporary models for the production and consumption of historical information on the web including commercial, non-profit, and government databases, and public history, journalistic and other websites.  

They will conclude the course with a demonstration of the skills they have gained by laying the foundations for a web-based community outreach project with the potential for full development in History 499. No prerequisites.


Required Books:

  • A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 8th ed., Mary Lynn Rompolla
  • Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, Cohen and Rosenzweig  – also available online at

Other topic-specific articles and web sites will be assigned by speakers in the course and posted on e-reserves and WebCampus.


Internet and platform access; technological tools such as digital recorders, video cameras, etc. These will all be provided by the university. Students should provide flash drive for storage.


Students will be graded on documentary source collection, writing skills, website technology and design, and videography (including oral history). All deadlines and assignments prior to the final website will constitute half of your final grade (50%). The final website will constitute the other half (50%). No late assignments will be accepted without medical excuses.

Key Deadlines (50%):

Week 03 – Project Proposal Due

Week 07 – All Sources Due

Week 08 – Outline, Site Diagram, and One Page Due

Week 09 – All Videography Materials Due (Except Editing)

Week 11 – First Draft Website Due

Week 13 – Videography First-Round Edits Due

Week 14 – Second Draft Website Due

Week 16 – Final Project Due

Note: you must meet with each course instructor at least once for a 10-minute in-person advising session during the first half of the term. Their feedback is essential to producing high quality work in this class. After meeting with your instructor, he or she will sign your meeting sheet indicating that you may continue with your project. You must make arrangements sooner than later, as instructors’ schedules may fill up and they might not be able to accommodate you immediately before the due date. It is your responsibility to ensure that you leave enough time to make appropriate arrangements.

You must meet with your instructors as follows:

            Dr. Church – no later than week 3

            Donnelyn Curtis – no later than week 4

            Rosalind Bucy – no later than week 5

            Dr. von Nagy – no later than week 6

            Bowen Drewes – no later than week 7

Mark Gandalfo / Daniel Fergus – no later than week 8

Final Project Requirements (50%)

History                      Strength of historical thesis and argumentation

40 points                     Quality, quantity of research

Quality, quantity of writing

Quality of oral history

Web Design              Innovative visual layout, colors etc.

30 points                     Images, variety, juxtaposition, placement in text

Functionality: links, html coding, configuration

Structure and navigation: consistency, effectiveness, logical order of menus

Multimedia              Legal status of images

30 points                     Video, has all required components, see video rubric

Video quality, see video rubric

Integration and proper display of all elements; overall effect


Attendance to each and every class is absolutely mandatory. Every absence beyond three will lower your final grade by one half of a letter grade (up to a maximum of a full letter grade). (A to A-; B+ to B; B to B-; B- to C+, etc). Beyond that you may be dropped from the course.

Note this statement in the UNR conduct code: “A student may be dropped from class at any time for negligence, misconduct, or non-attendance upon recommendation of the instructor and with approval of the college dean.”

If you must miss class due to illness, family emergency, bereavement, or a university-approved activity, you must provide official documentation (printed and signed) for the absence to be excused.

See University Policy: It is the personal responsibility of the student to consult with the instructor regarding absence from class. Students are responsible for material covered in class, and it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for the completion of all missed classroom work.”

Student Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to

  • read, interpret, and analyze primary source texts with attention to content, historical and cultural context, genre, and language
  • demonstrate familiarity with the various modes of thought, interpretation, and analysis in historical writing
  • create a digital project that conveys an historical argument and demonstrates best practices in the digital humanities

Schedule of Classes:

note: this schedule may change at the discretion of the professor
 it is your responsibility to make updates to this schedule as they are announced

Week 1

            1/22 – Syllabus and Course Introduction (All)

            1/24 – Discovering and Writing History (Church)

Week 2

            1/29 – UNR Special Collections (Curtis)

  • Pocket Guide, 3a, 3c, 3d, 3e, 24-28;31-44

            1/31 – UNR Census Data and Online Primary Source Material (Church)

  • Pocket Guide, “Writing a Research Paper,” 82-102

Week 3

            2/05 – Videography and Documentary Film-Making I (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

            2/07 – Working with Oral Sources (Watson)

  • “Best Practices for Oral History” (WCL)

              PROJECT PROPOSAL DUE!!!

Week 4

            2/12 – Videography and Documentary Film-Making II (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

            2/14 – Working With Written Sources (Bucy)

  • Pocket Guide, “Plagiarism,” 103-109
    • Pocket Guide, “Quoting and Documenting Sources,” 111-149

Week 5

            2/19 – Videography and Documentary Film-Making III (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

2/21 – Working with Digital Sources and Copyright (Church, Bucy)

  • Stim, Getting Permission, “Intro” and “Releases” (ARES)

Week 6

            2/26 – Introduction to web design concepts and WordPress (Drewes)

            2/28 – Goals of Public History (Watson) and Digital History (Church)


Week 7

            3/05 – From Essay to Website: Outlines, Mockups, and Web Design (Church)

  • Pocket Guide, “Following Conventions of Writing in History,” 51-80

            3/07 – WordPress Media, Design, Layout (Drewes)


Week 8

            3/12 – Videography and Documentary Film-Making IV (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

            3/14 – Videography and Documentary Film-Making V (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

                            VIDEOGRAPHY MATERIALS DUE!!!

Week 9

            3/16 –   SPRING

            3/24             BREAK

Week 10

            3/26 – Presenting Historical Sources Online (Curtis)

            3/28 – Evaluating Our Nixon (Bucy, Church, Fergus)


Week 11

            4/02 – Videography Editing Workshop (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

            4/04 – Videography Editing Workshop (Gandalfo; Fergus) – DML

Week 12

            4/09 – Web Design Workshop (Church)

            4/11 – Web Design Workshop (Drewes)              

                         VIDEOGRAPHY FIRST-ROUND EDITS DUE!!!

Week 13

            4/16 – Evaluating Digital History Projects (Church) – – DML

            4/18 – Peer-Review of Projects – DML

  • Pocket Guide, “Plagiarism,” 103-109


Week 14

            4/23 – Technical Workshop (All Instructors) – DML

            4/25 – Technical Workshop (All Instructors) – DML

Week 15

            04/30 – Technical Workshop (All Instructors) – DML

            05/02 – Technical Workshop (All Instructors) – DML

Week 16

            5/07 – What is (Digital) History Revisited – DML

                          FINAL PROJECT DUE @ MIDNIGHT!!!

EXAM: Presentation of Project during Scheduled Final Exam Time

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