AskHistorians: A New Vision for the Digital Humanities
AskHistorians was founded in 2011 as the digital humanities project that provides a tightly-regulated, bigotry-free space for the public to engage with historical professionals and grassroots historians. It has since grown to encompass a panel of three hundred experts, a subscriber base of 930,000, a popular podcast, and a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and at academic conferences.
“…Answers that are in-depth, comprehensive, and supported by up-to-date research”
We are distinguished by our high standards and commitment to user-driven content. Visitors bring their questions about history, and expert historians provide answers in accessible and engaging language. A team of moderators reviews answers to ensure they adhere to our core principles: in-depth, comprehensive, and supported by up-to-date scholarship.
A Public Voice in Public History
Our Q&A approach places the public in control of public history. Panelists’ areas of expertise reflect traditional subdivisions of academic history, such as “Ancient Egypt: Gender & Society” or “Western Fashion History, 1700-1900.” But readers’ questions reflect arise out of more organic ways to think about history, resulting in investigations like “What is the history of late-night drunk snacking?” and “Did Socrates even lift?”
Improving Historical Literacy
At the same time, our mission includes improving historical literacy, not just historical knowledge. Our initiatives include a recurring methodology series, Monday Methods, that has spotlighted topics like Indigenous approaches to doing history, the Annales school, and the importance of empathy in historical research. We also offer a substantial booklist of high-quality recommended reading in a full range of topics, emphasizing books that are available and affordable beyond academic libraries.
Advocacy for Public Humanities
AskHistorians exists to break down the artificial barriers among historical professionals, grassroots historians, and the public. Thus, while we are neither a political organization nor formally affiliated with academia, our mission includes advocacy in both directions. We promote the benefits of public engagement for professional historians at conferences and through face-to-face and online outreach. We offer suggestions to readers on how they can support the health of the humanities in the public sphere.