Session 2

Digital History in the Classroom: Strategies for Student Learning
Presented by Andrew Witmer, Grace Caudle, and Paul Faith

During the Spring 2011 semester, I taught a course through the History Department called Race and Religion in the Antebellum South. The course included a major digital history component, asking students to work on semester-long projects that presented the results of original archival research using a variety of digital tools. Through teaching this course I learned a lot about how to introduce students to digital history and guide them through successful digital projects. The aim of this presentation is to share practical tips with other professors who are interested in incorporating digital humanities projects into their classes. I’ll discuss strategies and ideas that worked well (including digital toolkits, project guidelines, and evaluation techniques), and two of my best students will showcase their work in digital history. Grace Caudle will present her group’s website, which explores a biracial Augusta County church before the Civil War. Paul Faith will discuss his group’s work digitizing nineteenth-century documents held by JMU. In sum, this presentation will give participants a chance to learn practical strategies for teaching the humanities with digital technologies, and to hear about one classroom experiment in digital history from the perspective of two outstanding JMU undergraduates and a JMU professor.


Andrew Witmer is Assistant Professor of History at JMU, where he teaches the U.S. History survey and courses on race and religion in the antebellum South and African-American history.  Dr. Witmer’s research explores the social, cultural, and intellectual history of the nineteenth-century United States, focusing on race, religion, and the connections between the United States and the wider world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa.



Grace Caudle is a senior history major at JMU from Midlothian, Virginia. She hopes to go into a career in secondary education. On campus she is a resident advisor and is very involved with her church.





Paul Faith is a Senior Political Science Major and Interdisciplinary Social Studies Minor at James Madison University. He lived in Williamsburg, Virginia until he came to Harrisonburg to begin his studies in 2007. He is a staff cartoonist for the JMU newspaper, The Breeze, and enjoys playing music in his spare time. In the spring semester of 2011, he worked with the Special Collections department at Carrier Library to transcribe and digitize documents as part of his requirements for completing a History course. He hopes to further his studies by pursuing a Masters in Education.

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