Public history

Future Pasts: Web Archives and Public History as Challenges for Historians of Education in Times of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only sparked a renewed interest in history; it has also focused our attention on how the present can be historically preserved. Therefore, it is safe to predict that the COVID-19 crisis and its documentation will be analyzed by future historians, and it will bring about methodological and technological changes that affect our ways of working as historians of education. This chapter will examine the following: First, it looks at some basic characteristics of web archives and how they challenge our work as historians. Second, it offers reflections on different modes of archival access and on how this may affect current concepts of the past. Third, the chapter discusses how web archives relate to public history and, next, introduces the Education & Pandemics Archive launched by the International Standing Conference for the History of Education (ISCHE). The chapter will also provide preliminary insights into how web archives may affect our work as historians of education. Web archives offer different structures, opportunities for different interactions and technological environments. They can be characterized by collaborative processes by networked data within a flattened structure, and by interconnected hardware and software environments. Web archives are user-friendly, flexible and invite us to get involved and to develop new historical dimensions.

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