Entry #5: Digital Archives: A benefit or a Nuisance?

With the utilization of modern technology a person would assume that digitizing records and archives would be beneficial to the historian. But is that digitalization hindering or helping the field of study?

Historians have been adapting to the digital age since the internet had proved to be a benefit for everyday life. The adaptations that they made proved to be beneficial to historians of limited resources. By putting archives online, Historians, both amateur and professional, are able to access information to foster their research in a way that  proved difficult prior to the internet.

Yet, as we see the archives as a positive entity for the furthering of research but does do the databases take away from the history. Does removing us from handing the letter or newspaper take away from understanding and interpreting the history?

As a student of history I had not been given the chance to visit an archive to complete research until I reached graduate school. That was due to the material that I focused my studies on. I relied heavily on online archives that proved to be limited at many points. Having dealt with nineteenth century Germany for a majority of my studies, I found that online archives were my only option.

Even though my only option was an online archive, I look back on my research after having had the discussions of whether or not the lack of handling the documents takes away from the research, and wonder if I had held the journals in my hands if they would have held more significance.

Browsing online archives such as the Internet Archive allow for expansive amounts of material that do not hinder the research but allow it to expand. Yes, we do have a slight disconnect with the historical aspect of many of our sources but I believe that, that separation can prove beneficial. The separation that the online archive creates can prove beneficial because the simplistic aspects of the document, such as the feel of the paper, might have held no importance to the original people involved in the creation of the item.

Online archives are a treasure trove that help the field of history more than it hurts the humanity. People are able to access information to help relieve their thirst for knowledge and intellect, and gain a better understanding of the past without losing interest because of the complexity that was involve in researching prior to the digital age.

The creation of the digital archives have proven over time to be a benefit to the historian.


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