Why I love the Internet
It's a great time to be a student and teacher of history, because so many amazing things can be discovered online, from original documents to extraordinary digital maps and visualizations of the past.
This section has some of my top places around the web to learn about history, especially three things that I teach and write about most often: American national politics, the history of technology and computing, and the history of cities in the US and around the world.
I've also added in lists of how-to resources for undergraduate and graduate students, including my top ten tips for getting the most out of History grad school.
General U.S. history
There are many great online resources out there for teachers and students interested in understanding the history of the United States and engaging with original source materials. Here are some places to start. If you are a K-12 history teacher, also check out the lists of resources compiled by the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians.
Primary sources, website reviews, and teaching tools compiled and built by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
Online exhibitions on pivotal people, trends, and events in American social and political history.
History News Network (HNN)
Putting today's headlines in a historical context, featuring articles and other commentary by leading political and social historians.
Based at Stanford, this site features the work of collaborative teams of history faculty and students who create compelling visualizations of historical data in time and space.
The world as you've never seen it before - world maps, with territories resized according to the subject of interest.
Prof. Peter N. Stearns explains it all to you.
History in photographs
There's so much to explore in this category, and, thanks to Instagram and Tumblr, it's expanding every day. But remember that there's a lot of stuff out there that isn't accurately captioned or sourced, or it's used without the photographer's permission. Here are some of my top sources for high-definition, properly sourced and credited vintage photographs.
Here's the place to start for the definitive collection of photographs and print images from U.S. history, largely pre-World War II, and mostly in the public domain.
Outstanding collection of digitized manuscripts and photographs relating to Pacific Northwest history, from multiple regional archives and depositories.
Remarkable collection of color photographs from the Great Depression and World War II made available as part of the Library of Congress' photo stream on Flickr, where you also can find excellent archival collections from other American museums and libraries, as well as snapshots of everyday life taken by ordinary people (like these). Filter your search for images with Creative Commons licensing.
Their tagline is "always something interesting," and they're right. A vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images of everyday life in America from the 1850s to 1950s. New photographs added nearly every day.
Another excellent, well-curated site featuring a wide ranging array of subjects. Particularly good if you are looking for non-U.S. images. Prepare to get lost down this rabbit hole for a while.
American political history
Any student of mine knows that I roll these out nearly every term. Archive of television commercials from every major-party candidate from Ike to Barack. Excellently curated online exhibition from the American Museum of the Moving Image.
Based at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, contains refereed online resources on American Presidents and the Presidency, from the founding to the present.
Established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their searchable archives contain more than 110,000 documents related to the study of the Presidency.
The National Archives' affiliated presidential libraries now have extensive online exhibitions and document collections on presidents and their times.
The lecture series that spawned the book. Videos of my 2012 public lecture series on the elections of 1912, 1932, 1968, and 1992, aired on Seattle's UWTV.
Technology and more
Based right in the heart of Silicon Valley, the CHM has online collections on all things computational, from artifacts to documents to advertisements, plus a great repository of oral history interviews with Valley pioneers.
Large and growing collection of documents and personal recollections, a collaboration of IEEE and others.
Oral histories of the semiconductor industry, including interviews with early leaders of Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, and more.
Recollections and personal histories of the men who built and financed the technology industry. A project of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.
Collection of primary source documents on the history of the integrated circuit and the development of the modern computer.
OECD Guide to Measuring the Information Society. Data and standards for measuring growth of internet and related technologies worldwide, and their social impact.
Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy of the National Academies. Access to full text of major reports relating to innovation and technology-driven economies in the US and abroad.
Geekwire. Understand how the past informs the present by keeping up on the latest news in the technology industry. Seattle is home to one of the best ones out there, for news and views on what's happening in the region's tech community, Silicon Valley, and beyond. They're so cool that they actually talk to history professors.
Cities past and present
Urban Planning, 1794-1918
A searchable anthology of primary documents discussing city planning in the United States and Europe, compiled by Prof. John Reps.
Created by an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from UCLA and USC, this is a digital research and education platform for exploring, learning about, and interacting with the layered histories of cities and global spaces.
Pictures of American Cities
Photographs from the holdings of the National Archive and Records Administration.
Two glimpses into America's urban past from the Library of Congress: The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906 and Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1906.
The Mannahatta Project
Historical visualization project of the Wildlife Conservation Society that explores the original ecology of Manhattan. Uncover pre-European Manhattan Island, block by block.
Online accompaniment to 2007 exhibition about greater New York City's master builder at the Queens Museum.
The extraordinary photographs of Camilo Jose Vergara, documenting thirty years of changing landscapes in poor, minority communities in the urban United States.
Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution
Research and commentary on land use, regional governance, transportation, education, and housing in American cities and suburbs.
The Urban History Association
The professional association for urban historians. Features links to many other online archival materials about American cities.
A moderated, multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and dissemination of scholarship on urban history and urban studies. Features teaching center with syllabi, primary resources, and other tools for teaching about cities and suburbs.
China from Above
Photographer George Steinmetz takes flight to capture early twenty-first century China, including its exploding cities and suburban subdivisions.
Globalization and World Cities
(Loughborough University, UK). Interdisciplinary web resource featuring research briefs and other publications, data sets on world cities, and original research projects.
Fifteen EU member countries participate in this collaborative forum for research and practice.
London School of Economics research institute addressing urban sustainability in the world's megacities.
The Urban Environment Group at Yale University
The research site of my collaborator Prof. Karen C. Seto, including descriptions and visualizations of current research on urbanization and environmental change in China, India, Vietnam, Qatar, and the United States.
Online exhibition of photography and mediations on the meaning and history of landscape by Anne Whiston Spirn.
Resources for undergraduate students
You are taking a History class or, even better, majoring or minoring in History. Way to go! In terms of preparing you to write, talk, think, and argue effectively, "History is kind of the king." Here are some resources that can help you ace that course and wow your professors, friends, and future employers.
First, here are some of the how-to handouts I've put together for my students over the years (other teachers and professors should feel free to download and use, but please give me proper attribution).
Next, here are some resources at the University of Washington.
Assistance with writing problems and issues encountered in crafting successful History papers
The Center offers tutoring, class discussion sections, and a drop-in Writing Center for writing help.
Offers writing and research assistance by appointment.
Students can meet individually with a librarian who will help them research a particular topic.
Last, some resources beyond the UW.
A basic introduction to historical research for anyone and everyone who is interested in studying the past, from Prof. William Cronon of the University of Wisconsin.
Step-by-step aids to developing and writing an outstanding college research paper,
from Prof. Patrick Rael of Bowdoin College.
Very useful handbook on organization, tone, structure, and style,
from the History Department of Hamilton College.
Resources for history students from Prof. Zachary Schrag of George Mason University.
From the Boston University Department of History.
Resources for graduate students
The University of Washington History Department currently enrolls more than 60 scholars pursuing MA and PhD degrees in a wide range of fields. Ours is in the top third of History PhD programs nationwide, and benefits from a large and vibrant university community and a location in beautiful Seattle. We work hard, have fun, and get to do a lot of hiking.
If you are a prospective student and would like to learn more about our program, our people, and application information, please visit the Department of History's Graduate Studies page.
If you are a current student here or at another program, there are a number of resources that can help you get the most out of your training, enjoy this intellectual journey, and prepare for the professional world ahead. Inspired by Claire Potter's Ten Commandments of Graduate School, here are my suggestions of twelve things you can do to link into grad school life and the broader profession (and none of them will cost you a dime):
1. Sign up for H-Net. This is an invaluable professional network that hosts edited listservs, job boards, conference announcements, teaching resources, book reviews, and more. You can subscribe to email listservs that correspond to your scholarly interests as well as find the most comprehensive job board in the profession.
2. Make the American Historical Association website your browser's home page. You'll keep up with key developments in the academic world as well as public issues of relevance to historians.
3. If you are on Facebook, "like" the UW History Librarian to get Theresa Mudrock's carefully curated feed of the Web's most interesting news about history and the humanities.
4. Find a good history blog and follow it. Two of my current favorites are TPM's Primary Source and We're History. Both great examples and model of historians getting their research and insights out there into the public discussion.
5. Get to know the major journal in your field. For Americanists, this would be The Journal of American History. Keep up with what's new in these and other journals by subscribing to Table of Contents alerts and availing yourself of the free content online. But also remember that you can read the full articles through your university's institutional subscription. What's your go-to journal? Find out by consulting the AHA's Directory of History Journals.
6. Go to talks on campus. Attend talks even if they seem far afield from your interests; you will be amazed by how this will help you think about your own work in fresh ways. If you are here at the UW, participate in the History Colloquium on a regular basis, and consider presenting your own work for feedback. (And when you do that - on campus or at academic conferences - make sure you read up on how to give a great academic talk.)
7. Embrace the digital. Technological tools are altering how we research, teach, and publish. You don't have to become an expert programmer (although the free tutorials at codecademy.com are pretty nifty), but you do need to understand how digital tools relate to what you do and how you do it. A great place to explore is the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, where a group of historians have blazed a path in building both archival resources and tools for research. I am a faithful user of two of their products: Zotero and Omeka.
8. Think about your online professional identity. Simple ways to create a professional presence include adding your information to your department's Graduate Student directory and establishing a page on Academia.edu. If you want to go one step further, build a web page of your own using Google Sites, Wordpress, or another platform. (I built this page using Strikingly.)
9. Teaching and public speaking is a huge part of what we do, but often graduate students get thrown into the deep end without getting some pro tips first. I've become a better teacher the longer I've been at it, but I also benefited greatly from watching other great teachers do their thing. To get started, check out How to Give a Lecture, where the prize-winning Stanford historian David M. Kennedy explains how it's done. Then, in addition to attending public talks by visiting speakers, consider auditing lectures given by faculty in your department who teach your subject to get a better sense of lecture structure and content. Last, get attuned to research about attention spans and figure out your go-to techniques for keeping students engaged and learning.
10. The life of the mind costs money. Throughout graduate school and beyond, you'll be repeatedly having to convince people why they should give you money to support your work, and apply early and often to all the external sources you can (hey, you never know if you'll get funding unless you try!). The Graduate Funding Information Service at the UW is a one-stop shop for identifying internal and external funding sources. The UW Graduate School holds information sessions about many of these larger programs and keeps a calendar of fellowship deadlines. Two great guides for perfecting your pitch: The Art of Writing Proposals (by the Social Sciences Research Council) and Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina Gillis.
11. Get career-minded from Day One of graduate school. Don't let it consume you, but have a clear sense of the kinds of jobs you'd like to have and build the skills you need to get them. Be deliberate, be confident, and be prepared. To get a sense of what's out there, check out the AHA Career Center, the H-Net Job Guide, and the Organization of American Historians Career COACH. Understand the other places the PhD might take you by watching the web series sponsored by the AHA profiling historians beyond academe: What I Do: Historians Talk About Their Work. And if you land an interview for an academic job, it is useful to review Mary Corbin Sies' list of questions you should be prepared to answer.
12. Have a life outside graduate school. In between all that reading and writing, make time to sleep, exercise, and spend quality time with people who do entirely different things for a living. If you are in Seattle, this is one place to start.
Last: remember that you aren't supposed to know everything. If you have a question or concern, talk to your faculty committee members, your Graduate Chair, and your graduate office staff before small problems become big ones.