• Peter Webster Ph.d. Direktør, Webster Research and Consulting LTD


information society, digital history, digital research, digital sources, web archives


Digital contemporary history: sources, tools, methods, issues

This essay suggests that there has been a relative lack of digitally enabled historical research on the recent past, when compared to earlier periods of history. It explores why this might be the case, focussing in particular on both the obstacles and some missing drivers to mass digitisation of primary sources for the 20th century. It suggests that the situation is likely to change, and relatively soon, as a result of the increasing availability of sources that were born digital, and of Web archives in particular. The article ends with some reflections on several shifts in method and approach which that changed situation is likely to entail.


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Brügger, Niels and Schroeder, Ralph (eds.): The Web as history, London: UCL Press, 2017. Also available Open Access at (24.03.2017).

Gomez, Pablo Uceda and Keller, Paul: ’The missing decades: the 20th century black hole in Europeana’ (2015): hole-in-europeana (20.02.2017).

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Shoemaker, Robert: Digital transformations: the Old Bailey Online and historical research (unpublished lecture, 2012), (20.02.2017).

Truax, Jean: Archbishops Ralph d’Escures, William of Corbeil and Theobald of Bec. Heirs of Anselm and Ancestors of Becket, Abingdon: Routledge, 2012.

Webster, Peter: Archbishop Ramsey. The shape of the church, Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.

Webster, Peter: ‘Religious discourse in the archived web: Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, and the sharia law controversy of 2008’. In Niels Brügger and Ralph Schroeder (eds), The Web as History: the first two decades, London: UCL Press, 2017.

Webster, Peter: ’Users, technologies, organisations: towards a cultural history of world web archiving’. In Niels Brügger (ed.), Web 25: histories from the first 25 years of the World Wide Web, New York: Peter Lang (forthcoming, 2017). York, Jeremy and Hagedorn, Kat (2015): ’Quality in Hathi Trust’: quality-in-hathitrust (21.02.2017).





Webster, P. (2017). DIGITAL CONTEMPORARY HISTORY SOURCES, TOOLS, METHODS, ISSUES. Temp - Tidsskrift for Historie, 7(14), 30–38. Hentet fra