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Digital History in the History/Social Studies Classroom

History Teacher Volume 35, Number 4, ISSN 0018-2745


One educational area that has greatly benefited from the growth of technology is historical studies. Since the initial development of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, tens of millions of historical documents have been placed online. During that time the quality and range of historical documents available on the Web has steadily increased. The Web has made primary source documents available to students at all levels in almost all places. These newly available documents are significant because they allow for learner-centered experiences. By shifting the focus from the teacher to the learner, web-based digital historical resources empower students to construct a more personal understanding of history. Through the World Wide Web, learners have a level of direct access to the raw materials of history that educators could never have imagined. The instructional use of digital historical resources represents a unique opportunity to alter dramatically the character of social studies and history instruction. Although K-12 history teachers have always used primary source documents, evidence suggests that their use has been limited. Social studies and history teachers and students now have opportunities to use digital historical resources in much greater numbers. In order to understand the possibilities, social studies and history educators need to answer several questions. These questions include: (1) What is digital history and where can some of the best examples be found?; (2) How do digital historical resources differ from non-digital primary sources?; and (3) How is digital history affecting college and K-12 history and social studies education? This article represents an initial effort to answer these questions and in doing so, the literature on digital historical resources will take center stage. Essentially, this article functions as a literature review, but takes form around those three questions. In addition, an effort has been made to highlight high quality digital historical resources in the context of theoretical, descriptive, and empirical research. (Contains 1 table and 49 notes.)


Lee, J.K. (2002). Digital History in the History/Social Studies Classroom. History Teacher, 35(4), 503-517. Retrieved June 21, 2019 from .

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