About the Programming Historian

The Programming Historian offers novice-friendly, peer-reviewed tutorials that help humanists learn a wide range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows to facilitate their research.

We regularly publish new lessons, and we always welcome proposals for new lessons on any topic. Our editorial mentors will be happy to work with you throughout the lesson writing process. If you’d like to be a reviewer or if you have suggestions to make Programming Historian a more useful resource, please see our Contribute page.

Our Project Team and peer reviewers work collaboratively with authors to craft tutorials that illustrate fundamental digital and programming principles and techniques. We have lessons on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Data Management, Data Manipulation, Distant Reading, Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Network Analysis, Digital Exhibit Building, Programming, and Web Scraping, and more. Our tutorials include nearly a dozen lessons on popular DH tools such as MALLET, Omeka, and QGIS.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, we welcome your feedback. Better yet, contribute a lesson! The Programming Historian (ISSN 2397-2068) aims to set a new standard for openness and collaboration in scholarly publishing, and you can help!


Please direct correspondence in the first instance to Jeri Wieringa at George Mason University.

Page Table of Contents:

Our Philosophy

The Programming Historian is committed to openess, access, and quality:

Open Source

The Programming Historian is committed to open source and open access principles. All contributed lessons must make use of open source programming languages and open source software whenever possible. This policy is meant to minimize costs for all parties, and to allow the greatest possible level of participation. We believe everyone should be able to benefit from these tutorials, not just those with large research budgets for expensive proprietary software.

Gold Open Access

All submissions to The Programming Historian are published under a Creative Commons ‘BY’ license. This adheres to a ‘Gold’ open access model of publishing, which is fully compliant with RCUK funding and HEFCE publishing requirements for scholars in the UK, as well as the Canadian Tri-Agency Open Access Policy. ‘Gold’ open access means that the version of record is made freely available without subscription fee or restrictions on access. Authors are permitted to republish their tutorials anywhere. And so can anyone, as long as they cite the original author and respect his or her moral rights.

The Programming Historian is indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals.

We do not charge Article Processing Charges (APCs), nor do we charge library subscriptions.

Peer Review

All tutorials that appear on The Programming Historian have been rigorously peer reviewed and copy edited. Each lesson is guided through the review process by one of our editors who are assigned to the piece. Review involves a thorough exchange with the editor to ensure the lesson works as intended and that all concepts are explained fully for a non-specialist reader, before the tutorial is sent to external reviewers to test it and provide further comments. We aim to return reviewed material to authors quickly, but our first priority is always to ensure a quality product.

Our peer review process is a bit different from what might be considered the “traditional” peer review process. We do not solicit reviews to judge whether a tutorial is “good enough” to be published. Rather, we consider the review process an integral component of a collaborative, productive, and sustainable effort for scholars to create useful technical resources for each other. Once a tutorial slips into our editorial workflow, our goal is to do everything we can to make sure the tutorial becomes as useful as possible and published in a reasonable amount of time. Consult our Reviewer Guidelines for more information.

Once the peer review has commenced, the role of the editor is to mediate between reviewers and authors, and keep the process on track in a timely manner. Unlike in traditional closed peer review systems, you get notified of reviewer comments the moment they appear. This means it is possible that you will see the review before the editor does. If at any point you are unsure if you should start addressing the comments or wait for the editor, feel free to post a question to clarify. You’ll understand that sometimes it will take the editor a few days to respond, but we hope the improvements to your lesson will be worth the wait.

In keeping with the ideas of public scholarship and open peer review, we generally encourage discussions to stay on GitHub as outlined in our editorial workflow. However, we also want everyone to feel comfortable and we recognise that in some cases a private word may be more appropriate. If you feel the need to discuss a matter related to a tutorial or a matter related to the review, please feel free to email the assigned editor directly, or to contact our ombudsperson, Ian Milligan or Amanda Visconti.

We strive to ensure all tutorials are functional on their date of publication. From time to time technology changes and tutorials cease to function as intended. If this happens, please let us know and we will assign an editor to fix the problem.

Funding & Ownership

The Programming Historian is a volunteer-led initiative, controlled entirely by the ‘Editorial Board of the Programming Historian’ with the help of community contributors. It is not a legal entity, and does not currently receive direct funding from any source.

The project is grateful for past support by the Network in Canadian History & Environment (NiCHE), and for hosting support from the Roy Rosenzweig Centre for New Media (RRCHNM). If you would like to provide financial support to help the project grow, please contact one of the Editorial Board members.

Suggested Citation

If you wish to cite The Programming Historian project, may we suggest the following:

Afanador-Llach, Maria José, Antonio Rojas Castro, Adam Crymble, Víctor Gayol, Fred Gibbs, Caleb McDaniel, Ian Milligan, Amanda Visconti, and Jeri Wieringa, eds. The Programming Historian. 2nd ed., 2017. http://programminghistorian.org/.

Individual lesson citation formats are shown at the bottom of each tutorial.