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  • The Long Road to ‘Digital History’: History of Computer-Assisted Research of the Past in Finland since the 1960s

    Petri Paju

    Chapter from the book: Fridlund, M et al. 2020. Digital Histories: Emergent Approaches within the New Digital History.


    To understand better the present shape and evolution of the digital history, this chapter examines how historians have used computers and information technology since the 1960s. Focusing on historians from Finland, the chapter starts from the late 1960s when a few younger historians first explored using the computer to perform statistical calculations. In the 1970s and the 1980s, the computers and data available were most useful and used for historical research designs applying quantitative methods. Historians carrying out qualitative research grew interested in IT when the personal computers became more user-friendly and affordable towards and especially during the 1990s. In the following decade, the internet, the World Wide Web, and digitized source materials effected all historians’ research practices directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, digital or computational history introduced in the mid-2010s took the use of IT further. These new methods were first embraced by a fraction of those historians who had previously focused on quantitative work based on textual materials. A central conclusion is that historians should pay more attention to the technologies they use to take better control of the challenges and opportunities of their changing research environment.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Paju, P. 2020. The Long Road to ‘Digital History’: History of Computer-Assisted Research of the Past in Finland since the 1960s. In: Fridlund, M et al (eds.), Digital Histories. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-5-2

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Dec. 7, 2020


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