Ljubinka Škodrić, PhD
Institute for Contemporary History
Belgrade, Republic of Serbia


Vladimir Petrović, PhD
Institute for Contemporary History
Belgrade, Republic of Serbia



Vol. XXXVIII, 2/2020, pp. 9–38



As information technologies are irrevocably changing our world, historiography is hardly exempted. The Internet has opened up unprecedented opportunities for research and sharing of results, as well as other forms of collaboration. Accustomed to individual archival work, historians are increasingly expected to develop systemic research agendas, involving teamwork needed for accessing and processing mounting historical material, as well as establishing a new methodological approach to digital sources. This novel approach to exploring and presenting the past requires no less than a new way of thinking from historians of the 21st century. The contemporary historian is compelled to combine traditional knowledge with modern technologies in order to harvest all the possibilities and keep up with this enormous societal change.

Digital history has already pervaded all aspects of historical work. Historians use computer skills to search for sources, interpret data, and present research results. Frequently unaware of the scope of this technological transition, they are mostly reduced to the role of users of digital contents. Gaining a firmer grasp over its facets would lead to a more systematic exploration of digitized historical sources, a wider utilization of mapping, textual analysis and other research tools as well as to the identification of the most suitable software for presenting research and locating adequate networks for their dissemination. To that end, this article offers a number of links, resources, and tips. It covers the origins of the digital revolution in the humanities and particularly in historical science. The article also deals with forms and perspectives of the development of digital history. Particular attention is given to the changes that digitalization brings, including the structure of historical sources, the evolution of heuristic practices, the technique of historical research, and the presentation of its results. Key authors, associations, and journals dedicated to this topic have received due attention, as have the central debates in this area and its concrete techniques. Over the last quarter of a century, digital history has evolved into a recognizable, though not clearly defined subfield that transforms historical science. This dynamic but uneven development is illustrated by a number of examples, in an effort to critically consider its possibilities and limitations.

In addition to improving historical research efforts, digital history also holds considerable pedagogical potentials, and contributes greatly to the democratization of knowledge about the past. Novel technology makes it easier to reach out to a more diverse audience, especially to younger generations. As digital history enables its audience to explore and relate content themselves, they are transforming from passive users to active participants in a virtual encounter with the past. Professional historians should assist the public as critical facilitators of that process, if they strive to change from travel companions to participants of the digital revolution.


KEYWORDS: Digital History, Internet, Historiography, Digitalization, Digital Humanities