6.0553 The History Network Introduction (1/184)

Tue, 23 Feb 1993 14:43:34 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0553. Tuesday, 23 Feb 1993.

Date: Tue, 23 Feb 93 16:41:52 CET
From: Thomas Zielke <113355@DOLUNI1.BITNET>
Subject: Official Introduction of The History Network

The History Network - Official Announcement

(please re-distribute and circulate)

Dear friends and colleagues,

it is a great honour and a pleasure to me to send out this document
which shall give you some information about The History Network.

With best regards,

Thomas Zielke
Secretary General
The History Network

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The History Network is an international collaborative effort by
academic historians, graduate students and undergraduates interested
in history to maximize the potential of Bitnet and Internet.
Conceived by Thomas Zielke, listowner of History-L, in 1992, it has
quickly evolved into a viable organization devoted to dissemination
of the resources and education required to bring historians into the
world of electronic communications. Zielke is the Secretary-General
of the entire organization. Its seven divisions and their
responsibilities are:

1. Organization: set agenda for Division Director conferences, gather
statistics, resolve inter-Divisional conflicts, manage legal affairs,
handle relations with governments, governmental agencies, and
networks, and represent History Network at conferences. Thomas Zielke
is director by virtue of the charter of the History Network calling
for the Secretary General to be the ex officio head of this divsion.

2. Resources: develop and disseminate information on distribution
sites (FTP, Gopher, WAIS, Veronica), digital materials collection and
development, and access to data bases. Donald Mabry is director.

3. Scholarly Exchange: facilitate new and ongoing discussion lists
and conferences, including posting of publications and notices. The
Directorship is still open.

4. Technical Development, responsible for software development, list
operation enhancement, journal and conference presentation methods,
and technological adaptation. Skip Knox is Director.

5. Education: recruitment, network training, demonstrations, manuals
and handbooks and more). Richard Jensen is Director.

6. Professional Standing: promote recognition of electronic efforts
of historian, including electronic publication and service credit;
represent History Network at converences and conventions; offer
organizational support; general publicity. The Directorship is still

7. Finance: Fund-raising for History Network. The Director is Richard

A Secretary who will function in a role similar to a Deputy Director
was appointed in the latter half of February, Charlie Dell is filling
the post. A Historian/Archivist are still needed.

The original mission of the History Network was articulated by
Zielke, who took over the first major history discussion group on
Bitnet, HISTORY, and created a more professional list with active
participation by a variety of history-oriented individuals. In
"History at Your Fingertips, Electronic Information and
Communications for Historians," a paper given at Lawrence, Kansas, in
September, 1992, he proposed a History Network via e-mail, FTP and
Telnet that will facilitate electronic access for historians, help
create and technically support specialized history lists, provide FTP
and Gopher sites for documents to be stored by historians and
accessed by other historians from anywhere in the world, and provide
a much faster means of exchange between history scholars of ideas,
information, and places to look for deeper documentation on a
specific subject.

Zielke articulated some long range goals as well. Eventually, an FTP
site should support every history list created. We should create
more history lists so that eventually every aspect of history will
have its own list. Zielke envisioned collaboration or close
cooperation with groups like the Gutenberg Project (which distributes
e-copies of older public domain books), the Humanities Computing
faculty at UC-Santa Barbara, and the Canadian Historian's
Association. Eventually there will be a number of sites where papers,
bibliographies, lectures, maps, and graphics will be stored,
accessible to the ever-widening number of people with net access.
Presently, there are two history-related FTP sites, at Mississippi
State University and at the University of Kansas.

Zielke's paper concluded with two ideas that perhaps are the germ of
why the History Network has really been formed: only a very small
segment of history professionals use to any degree the tools of
computers and electronic communication/data retrieval; and secondly
most historians do not yet recognize the potential (or even the
legitimacy) of electronic documents and e-mail.

The History Network was developed at the same time as another similar
effort known as H-Net was being planned at the University of Illinois
in Chicago. Richard Jensen, professor of history, and two graduate
students were planning a project for training historians about the
nets, and using history materials drawn from the networks. Jensen
argued that half of the academic historians in the US have a powerful
computer on their desks. Many graduate students have one, or have
convenient access. The analogy is the Model T Ford, whose owners
owned a wonderful machine, but used it only to drive to church on
Sunday. H-Net's main goal is to get historians to use their computers
for communications and analysis, as well as the word processing with
which most have become comfortable.

H-Net is working with the American Historical Association and other
established history groups, and with college and university history
departments, to provide faculty training in the communications
capabilities of PCs. Its training materials will be published on the
History Network. H-Net has been officially endorsed by the AHA, the
Organization of American Historians, and the Southern Historical
Association, and will run training workshops at their annual

H-Net will set up a BBS system, which historians can call into (via
Internet or telephone) to obtain a menu of files and discussion
groups. The BBS will provide "newsletter" like services for the
profession as a whole, including announcements of conferences and
fellowships, postings of job vacancies, and reports on convention

The major new source H-Net will create is a combined retrospective
index to the major history journals. Editors spend a great deal of
effort to compile highly sophisticated indexes of their journals -
indexes that go far beyond authors and titles. It will obtain the
diskettes used in recent years, and scan the printed indexes of other
years. The result will be a large on-line source that will be
accessed by a key word search. Students and scholars will use it
(free) to gain much better access to the contents of the major
history journals.

Richard Jensen came well-prepared for this task, having had directed
the Newberry Library Summer Institutes, which trained about 600
historians in the 1970s and early 1980s in the new social history,
quantification, and mainframe computers.

Good ideas come in pairs, as historians of science have long noted.
Instead of disputing the territory, the History Network and H-Net
have joined forces, with H-Net becoming the Education Division of the
History Network.

The History Network is barely two months old, and will need the
participation of professionals, grad students and undergraduates
alike to grow and prosper. The Network promises to serve the history
community of the 21st century in ways commensurate with the changes
in technology, communication and history itself. The History Network
idea promises to link historians together worldwide, speeding
messages, creating connections, sharing work and ideas, making
personal contacts, and exploring new ways to use the incredibly
powerful computer and communications technology of our time. All
kinds of talent are needed and desired; many people could join the
volunteers already working on the project in a variety of areas, or
suggest an angle or project we have not thought about.

Volunteers interested in helping out in any of the divisions can send
a note to the division director, or directly to the History Network
at: HN-ASK-L@UKANVM. Any ideas or projects you may have in mind could
be channeled through a Division director, or directly to Thomas or

The History Network planning committee members are currently:

1) Thomas Zielke, U. of Oldenburg (Germany), 113355@DOLUNi1.bitnet
2) Kevin Berland, Pennsylvania State U. BCJ@PSUVM.bitnet
3) Jim Cocks,U. of Louisville, JACOCK01@ULKYVM.bitnet
4) Charlie Dell, U of Missouri, Kansas City, CDELL@vax1.umkc.edu
5) Lydia Fish, SUNY at Buffalo, FISHLM@SNYBUFVA.bitnet
6) Richard Jensen, U. of Illinois Chicago, u08946@UICVM.bitnet
7) Larry Jewell, Purdue U., jewell@MACE.CC.PURDUE.EDU
8) Ellis "Skip" Knox, Boise State U, dusknox@IDBSU.IDBSU.EDU
9) Agnes Kruchio, U. of Toronto, kruchio@EPAS.UTORONTO.CA
10) Don Mabry, Mississippi State U, djm1@RA.MSSTATE.EDU
11) Lynn Nelson, U of Kansas, lhnelson@UKANVM.bitnet
12) Bob Pasker, San Francisco State U, bob@HALFDOME.SF.CA.US
13) Wendy Plotkin, U of Illinois Chicago, u15608@UICVM.bitnet
14) Kelly Richter, U of Illinois, Chicago, u59611@UICVM.bitnet
15) Bayla Singer, bsinger@ENIAC.SEAS.UPENN.EDU