Digital history & historiography

Digital picture archives in historical research and the visual history of education

This proposal will discuss the use of digital picture archives and associated tools in historical research from the perspective of digital history with a focus on resources for the history of education. Our starting point will be threefold:

• digital picture archives need to be seen as part of a wide range of digital resources that are currently available for historical research; while certain methodological, epistemological and technical questions are specific for digital picture archives, many pertain to digital resources in general;

• similarly: discussing the prerequisites for a picture archive on educational history implies, first, to address the broader question of what prerequisites should be considered for digital archives more generally; and addressing the question of whether or not such general prerequisites can be formulated at all given the wide range of research questions and use cases researchers bring to the table

With this broader contextualisation in mind we will focus on the possibilities and limitations of digital picture archives for the history of education through a brief discussion of the following points:

• what are the characteristics of digital picture archives; technical and otherwise, and within that context, digital archives for the history of education; can specific characteristics be observed with regard to the latter or not?

• what layers of information are currently embedded in digital picture archives for the history of education (taking Gerhard Paul‘s differentiation as a starting point); how can we improve the design, annotation and classification of images through metadata etc, to build corpuses that meet researcher‘s requirements?