The History Lab: New resource for students seeking to use online resources

The History Lab aims to support and encourage student engagement with online primary and secondary sources.

The History Lab aims:

  • To provide access & encourage the use of digital primary sources
  • To develop advanced research skills that teach students to read and think about these sources in meaningful ways
  • To teach students how to think like a historian i.e how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading using digital documentary evidence
  • To encourage inquiry based learning

Over the past twenty-five years, millions of primary sources have been digitised by libraries and archives and made available online. (Malkmus, 2008) From an Irish context, in the lead up to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, there has been a major drive to survey and digitise relevant archival material. These digitisation projects share a common ideal to make Ireland’s heritage widely available to everyone and to enrich the historical narrative.  The Decade of Centenaries has contributed archival developments such as the digitisation of the Bureau of Military History Military Service Pensions Collection, and the 1901 and 1911 censuses. Other projects such as the Google virtual tour “Dublin Rising 1916-2016 Virtual Tour” a unique digital primary source project demonstrate scale and scope of online primary sources available to history learners.

History is the study and interpretation of the past, and engaging with primary sources is central to the development of authentic critical historical thinking. (Wineburg, 1999) Since the 1970s, millions of primary sources have been digitised by libraries and archives which has created a wealth of rich content for historians and history students. However the sheer scale of sources material, websites and questions about source quality make it a challenging research environment for history students. (Tally & Goldenberg, 2005)

Our solution to this was to create “The History Lab” Digital Research Skills resource to support and scaffold the learners’ engagement with digital primary sources.

Available at: