BHC Roundtable: Making Sense of Digital Sources

Thursday 11th, March @ 10:00-11:00 (EST)/15:00-16:00 (GMT)

Organizers: 
Prof Stephanie Decker, University Of Bristol
Prof David Kirsch, University Of Maryland
Dr Santhilata Kuppili Venkata, The National Archives
Dr Adam Nix, De Montfort University

Speakers:
Dr Gavin Benke, Boston University
Dr Jessica Ogden, University of Bristol
Dr Tim Hannigan, University of Alberta
Prof Douglas Oard, University of Maryland

BHC’s virtual meeting starts tomorrow and, among the many interesting sessions, the Contextualizing Email Achieves team will be hosting an inter-disciplinary roundtable on digital sources. The session requires no prior experience of digital methods or digital sources and will be of particular interest to anyone researching contemporary historical periods or those keen to know more about working with digital traces of the past.

Here’s the full abstract:

The more business and organisational historians focus on the events of the late twentieth century and beyond, the more they are finding traces of the past that were created digitally. Despite the increasing relevance of emails, webpages and other born-digital material, there has been little reflection on how scholars should deal with them methodologically.

The goal of the roundtable is to explore the challenges that arise at the intersection of different disciplines as they attempt to make sense of digital sources. It brings together scholars from different disciplines who have explored the many ways in which digital sources can be used and are being used. Several are early career researchers (ECRs) themselves (Drs Hannigan, Nix, Ogden) and the topic is of particular relevance to ECRs as they are perhaps more likely to engage with new types of sources and new methods in order to make their mark as scholars.

The underlying rationale is as follows: Sources and methods for business historians have expanded in recent years as more and increasingly heterogeneous artefacts are being generated. On the one hand, these developments have led to a flowering of new types of inputs for historians writing about business such as digitized newspapers and remotely accessible archival collections. Combined with complex search tools that allow scholars to filter ever larger and more diverse sets of historical materials, business historians are now able to make new and different kinds of knowledge claims.

However, taking advantage of these opportunities can require research tools which are outside the skill set of any single researcher, historian or otherwise. Therefore, business historians may need to look outside the boundaries of the field for productive, knowledge-generating partnerships. Hence we have focused on bringing an interdisciplinary group of scholars together, which is of particular relevance to ECRs as research trends and funders increasingly focus on the ability to engage in interdisciplinary conversations.

For more details and to see the rest of BHC’s exciting sessions, view the full programme here.