Thursday, June 02, 2005

Using blogs in history

This post came across on the H-Net discussion list - H-West - and demonstrates a novel and exciting way of using blogs for historical study. (This post was reposted here with permission of the author.)

From: "Michael Edmonds"
Date: 6/2/2005 6:07:24 AM
Subject: Marquette-Joliet blog

Here at the Wisconsin Historical Society, we're using Movable Type to
blog historic diaries: on or about the same date as the author was
writing, we put out the diary entry. Last year we ran Sgt. Charles
Floyd's diary of the opening months of the Lewis & Clark expedition and
this year we're streaming ... so to speak... Fr. Jacques Marquette's
journal of his 1673 trip down the Mississippi with Louis Joliet. It's
hard to know how many people read them, since they can be delivered by
RSS feed to Web pages where many additional readers, who never visit our
site, can follow them.

As Mary Scrivener said, blogging software is nice for these historical
materials for several reasons. It gets indexed by major search engines,
so people may come across it serendipitously. It allows us to post the
text and to comment on it at the same time, as a traditional editor
would. It also allows us to parse the journals out over several months
of prepared entries, in advance, so that each day we only need to
proof-read and publish the entry; little work's involved once the text
is all laid out in Movable Type.

Most importantly, it may be putting primary sources out to casual
students of history - - say, people who live along the route and start
the day with a visit to their My Yahoo! page - - who would never travel
to a library to read them. A challenge we face in reaching audiences
this way is simply letting people know that the blogs exist [so feel
free to forward this note to anyone you know in the Mississippi Valley
;-) ]

You can see the Floyd and Marquette blogs at

If you have any questions, the "Email Us" link on any page of them comes
directly to my inbox.

I, too, would like to learn of people using blogging software as a way
to do history, espcially if you've attempted to figure out whether or
not you're successfully reaching any specific target audience.


Michael Edmonds

Deputy Director,
Library-Archives Division
Wisconsin Historical Society
miedmonds at whs dot wisc dot edu

FYI, I included this post in History Carnival #10.
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