The Dartmouth Digital History Initiative (DDHI) aims to develop new digital methods and tools to improve the accessibility and utility of oral history archives. We seek to create tools that will enable users to organize, explore, and visualize the wealth of data contained in oral history collections. DDHI tools will be open-source and easy-to-use. The DDHI is committed to collaboration with diverse user communities to ensure that our tools and our work will promote best practices regarding the creation, preservation, and use of oral history archives.
The DDHI is a digital humanities project rooted in the theory and method of oral history. Oral history interviews are complex texts; scholars and students use them not only to reconstruct past events but also to explore meaning, memory, identity, and subjectivity. In addition, oral history is often used to study the experiences of individuals and groups–including BIPOC and others–whose testimony is marginalized in or absent from traditional archive collections.
The DDHI supports and enhances these humanistic applications of oral history by enabling users to visualize interview references to people, events, places, organizations, and other entities. Such visualizations can help users to discover and examine patterns and distributions of data within a collection of interviews—patterns and distributions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to see. At the same time, data visualizations can also support storytelling and other representational practices. By employing our tools to create visual representations of movement and change within space and time, DDHI users will have exciting new digital methods to communicate and disseminate the results of their oral history research.