Digital History Lab

What is the DH Lab? 

The Western Digital History lab is a space, but it’s really about the people who collaborate in it. Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students engaged in digital research meet regularly to report on goals, accomplishments, and challenges. There are Open Lab work dates, when some of us come in and work on projects (alone or in collaboration) at the same time in the lab. This facilitates all kinds of interesting conversations, solutions, and camaraderie. Each semester we also hold one or two DH brown bag workshops for the whole department (past topics have included book scanning, using Zotero bibliographic software, learning QGIS, and overviews of other useful software like Evernote, DevonThink and Open Refine).

The relevance of this field is perhaps best expressed by Dr. Ian Milligan, associate professor at the University of Waterloo and former post-doctoral researcher at UWO. He stated, “Digital History is not a sub-field anymore, it is the way all historians will conduct research going forward, and it will be especially necessary for historians of the period after 1997, when the internet greatly expanded the production of archival content.”


Rob MacDougall

Alan MacEachern

Laurel Clark Shire

Mark Tovey (Adjunct)

William J. Turkel


Members of the DH Lab have access to Mac and Windows computers running a variety of software, including Mathematica/Wolfram Language, ArcGIS, Final Cut Pro and other packages for analyzing and manipulating texts, images, maps, audio, video, quantitative data and other kinds of sources. We have book, microfilm, microfiche, flatbed and sheet-feeding scanners for digitization. There are also cameras, audio recorders, a podcasting setup, … the list goes on. If you can imagine a digital history project, we probably have the equipment and experience to help you get started.

DH at Western

Western has been one of Canada’s leading centres for digital history since the early 2000s, receiving millions of dollars of external and internal funding for strategic knowledge mobilization, online databases, handheld and place-based computing, interactive exhibit design, application programming interfaces, augmented reality, desktop fabrication, text mining, machine learning, computer vision and a number of other techniques. Past projects have focused on environmental, public, military, and economic history and on the histories of science and technology.