Digital Tools

Geospatial Historian launched

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Historians are turning to more and more advanced digital tools, from databases and geographic information systems, to text mining and web scraping. Few historians have these skills before we find a research project that could benefit from them. As a result, there is a growing demand for tutorials that teach historians and historical geographers new digital skills. A NiCHE spin off project, the Programming Historian 2, provides the model for developing these tutorials. They provide peer review for the tutorials, both to ensure the high quality of these lessons and so the authors can claim some academic recognition for their effort. The Digital Tools section of the NiCHE website aims to supplement the fantastic resource provide by the Programming Historian 2 with tutorials aimed at environmental historians/historical geographers. We are open to tutorials aimed at all skill levels and using any software or programming language that has a proven utility for historical research. While open source has many advantages and should be the first choice in many situations, we are also interested in tutorials on widely used commercial software including Excel, File Maker and ArcGIS. If you are interested in contributing a lesson, please contact

The Geospatial Historian (a NiCHE initiative):

The Programming Historian 2:

Historical GIS Bibliography

  • Jessica DeWitt curates a list of HGIS links and a substantial HGIS bibliography for the University of Saskatchewan HGIS Lab. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Integrated Database in Environmental History of Canada

William Turkel’s How To website:

The Historian’s Macroscope: Big Digital History, by S. Graham, I. Milligan, & S. Weingart

Useful tools for environmental history:

  • Zotero: a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.
  • Audacity: a free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.
  • R Project for Statistical Computing: a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.
  • Python: an open source programming language. Visit the Programming Historian to get started.
  • WordPress: web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. Visit to create a website on their server and to download software and host your own website. (This website uses WordPress.)
  • Twitter: a microblogging social network. Search for #envhist to connect with other environmental historians.
  • Voyant Tools: a web-based reading and analysis environment for digital texts
  • AntConc: freeware concordance program for Windows, Macintosh OS X, and Linux.
  • Xmind: a popular mind mapping software.
  • Timeline.js: a great tool for creating online timelines.
  • OpenRefine: a powerful tool for working with messy data, cleaning it, transforming it from one format into another, extending it with web services, and linking it to databases like Freebase. (Programming Historian OpenRefine tutorial.)
  • Wget: A great tool for downloading content from the internet. (Programming Historian Wget tutorials: first, second.)
  • Bamboo DiRT: A larger repository of digital tools.
  • Mobile Mapping and Historical GIS in the Field
  • Omeka: a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. (Programming Historian Omeka tutorials: first, second)

Sites et ressources francophones

Digital Archives:

Open Scholarship:


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