The Dartmouth Digital History Initiative is a digital humanities project dedicated to devising new digital tools and methods that will improve the accessibility and utility of oral history archives. The DDHI has three main goals:
First, we are developing methods to digitally encode oral history interview transcripts. This process employs an encoding schema that we have developed using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standard. By encoding particular kinds of textual data contained in oral history transcripts–data such as references to places, people, organizations, dates and events–our users can make their transcripts machine-readable.
Second, we are developing easy-to-use data visualization tools that can be applied to encoded interviews. By allowing users to create their own maps, timelines, and other custom visualizations, the DDHI will furnish users with powerful new methods for exploring and studying collections of oral histories.
Last and most important, we are seeking to develop a community of practice made up of users of the DDHI’s tools and methods. We hope and expect that this community will include professional oral historians, archivists, researchers, students, and anyone else with an interest in oral history and oral history archives.
The DDHI builds on the success of the Dartmouth Vietnam Project, an oral history project that has completed more than 140 interviews with Dartmouth community members since its establishment in 2014. The DVP archive serves as the first use case for the development and application of the DDHI’s tools and methods.
The work of the DDHI is currently funded by a Major Initiatives grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). We expect to have a working prototype of our tools and methods by late 2020, and to begin deployment on sites outside of Dartmouth during 2021.