Episode 092: Sharon Block, How to Research History Online


How do historians conduct research online?

This is your second-most asked question after how did everyday people live their day-to-day lives in early America.

As the Doing History series explores how historians work, it offers the perfect opportunity to answer your question.

Sharon Block, a Professor of History at the University of California-Irvine, has made use of computers and digital resources to do history for years, which is why she serves as our guide for how to research history online.

About the Series

Doing History episodes will introduce you to historians who will tell you what they know about the past and reveal how they came to their knowledge.

Each episode will air on the last Tuesday of each month in 2016.

This series is part of a partnership between Ben Franklin’s World and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

Sharon BlockSharon Block, a Professor of History at the University of California-Irvine, serves as our guide through how historians conduct historical research online.

During our exploration, Sharon reveals how the digital age has changed and added to the ways historians research; How historians research history online; And, how we can locate historical information online.

What You’ll Discover

  • How early American men and women thought about race
  • How the digital age has changed how historians research
  • Digital privilege and what it means in terms of available historical sources
  • How historians conduct historical research online
  • The role of Google web products in online historical research
  • Why the difference between human and computer organized information matters
  • How we can maximize our ability to find information with keyword searches
  • Databases historians use to conduct research online
  • How to locate databases with historical information
  • What digital historical sources look like
  • Why some history databases employ paywalls
  • Whether historians employ a set of “best practices” when they conduct online research
  • Ways computers facilitate what historians can do with their research


Links to People, Places, and Publications

Links to Blogs and Books

Links to Related Episodes


Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what will the future of historical research look like? How will the internet, digital databases, and software facilitate and change how historians research the past?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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