Newly digitized documents and online archives are transforming both the size and the nature of history’s source base. Where once the “readings” available for classroom use were texts published by scholarly presses, now students and researchers alike can draw on digital facsimiles of a huge range of artifacts: pictures, sounds, klms, unpublished manuscripts.
Yet the digital age often sidesteps or even ignores other, equally important, goals of documentary scholarship, such as providing the sort of contextual information and stable citational framework that would allow sources to be used in public life, scholarship, and teaching. In a world where history is everywhere and nowhere–and with a source base whose origin, nature, and future are often utterly unclear–why bother to think about any one thing systematically or seriously?
SourceLab, based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, seeks to respond to these challenges, creating a new kind of space within college education where students can learn and practice the skills they need to become informed critics and publishers of historical sources in a digital age. A Digital Humanities collective involving students, faculty, and the public at large, SourceLab pursues three main activities: education, publishing, and research. In these ways, we seek to help academic life respond in real time to the opportunities and challenges raised by the digitization of history.
You can learn more about SourceLab by visiting our website and get involved by joining the Editorial Board, enrolling in HIST 207, or serving as a client on a student-authored edition.