status: Completed

Chair (s): Kim Fortun, Mike Fortun, Lindsay Poirier

Group Email: [group_email]

Secretariat Liaison: [field_secretariat_liaison]


RDA’s Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group (DPHP-IG) works to advance data standards, practices and infrastructure for historical and ethnographic research, contributing to broader efforts in the digital humanities and social sciences.



-        Advance development of digital infrastructure for historical and ethnographic research through engagement with concrete scholarly practice and projects (such as Open Folklore, the Nunaliit Atlas Framework, the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography and Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures).

-        Advance conceptualization of the special characteristics and digital potential of humanities and qualitative social science data, including conceptualization of ethnographic and historical research data as  “big data.”

-        Advance capacity to share, integrate, visualize and act with different kinds of data and analyses, including qualitative data and the kinds of analyses produced through historical and ethnographic research.


Planned Outcomes & Benefits

-        Build a global network of people involved in the development of data infrastructure for historical and ethnographic research, providing opportunities to share digital tools and project development experience.  Monthly, call-in “project shares” since summer 2013 contribute to this.  

-        Link people involved in development of data infrastructure for historical and ethnographic research to data scientists and technologists, and to people in other research domains involved in data infrastructure development (leveraging the connections provided by RDA).

-        Characterize and recommend best-practice meta-data standards for researcher-created primary data (field notes, recorded interviews, etc.) in history and ethnography.  This will be the focus of the first Working Group spun out of this Interest Group.

-        Characterize and recommend user agreements, citation practices, digital exhibition protocols, and other mechanisms that will facilitate sharing and public availability of historical and ethnographic data (recognizing the need to customize access according to data type and context).

-        Develop an ethnographic project to document and analyze data practices and culture in different research communities, especially as represented in the RDA. The comparative knowledge created by the project can undergird deep research collaboration across diverse fields.



Membership in the DPHG-IG includes historical and ethnographic researchers working in diverse fields and settings, including folklore, Arctic Studies, Ancient Studies, and Science and Technology Studies, in universities, museums, national labs, and corporate labs.  Membership also includes librarians, software developers and data scientists interested in the humanities and qualitative social sciences, as well as advocates for open data and systems in these fields. 

    Kim Fortun (Department of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
    Mike Fortun (Department of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
    Jason Baird Jackson (Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University)

Status: Recognised & Endorsed