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January 5, 2021

Programming Historian in 2020

Jennifer Isasi

Banner of PH with the logos of the four journals

2020 was not easy for anyone; we lost too much and we continue to struggle in a pandemic that has turn the world upside down. In Programmnig Historian we slowed down to accomodate members’ challenges but did not stop; we continued to produce content and to improve our journals to ensure a more equitable access to materials on digital scholarship methods.

In this newsletter, the first one to feauture a mix of our four languages, we reflect on our achievements, changes and news over the past year.

As usual, none of these achievements would have been possible without the support of our communities around the globe, and the wide host of volunteer editors and collaborators of the journals. To all of you, THANK YOU and we wish you a better year as we move forward into 2021.


Have you seen our new lessons? A pesar de las circunstancias, hemos seguido publicando. Nous avons plusieurs nouvelles leçons pour vous.

This is not all. Programming Historian en français prépare ses deux premières leçons originales qui seront publiées prochainement en 2021: “Calibrer des âges radiocarbone avec R” et “Gérer et mettre en ligne une base de données avec Heurist”. Igualmente, en español se están editando ya las lecciones “Análisis de sentimientos en R”, “Reutilizando colecciones digitales: GLAM Labs” y “Visualización y animación de tablas históricas con R” así como varias traducciones. The English team is also editing four lessons “OCR and Machine Translation”, “Crowdsourced-Data Normalization with Python and Pandas”, “Detecting Text Reuse with Passim” and “Unsupervised Learning and K-Means Clustering with Python”.

Do you have an idea for a lesson? Drop us a line!

Our supporters and users

We launched our Institutional Partner Programme and Patreon about a year ago, and in these months we have been able to amass a good number of supporters to whom we would like to give a strong shout-out! They don’t only support us but a wide array of resources that we can bring to the world, free at the point of access to readers everywhere.

In 2020, we got seven sign-ups to contribute to our Institutional Partner Programme for libraries, universities and research centers:

On the individual side of things, we are also grateful to the many dozens of sponsors who support our project through a monthly contribution on Patreon or one-time Paypal donations.

We saw over 1,548,000 visitors on our journals. And for the second time, our users visited us from every country in the world except North Korea! However, as expected some countries visited us more than others.

Top 10 list of visitors per country in 2020.

In English, Creating Web APIs with Python and Flask by Patrick Smyth received the most visits, followed by Counting Word Frequencies with Python by William J. Turkel and Adam Crymble and Reshaping JSON with jq by Matthew Lincoln. En español, las lecciones que más visitas recibieron fueron las traducciones Manipular cadenas de caracteres en Python y Trabajar con archivos de texto en Python ambas de William J. Turkel y Adam Crymble. De la même manière, Manipuler des chaînes de caractères en Python et Travailler avec des fichiers texte en Python par William J. Turkel et Adam Crymble ont été les traductions les plus consultées en français.

And finally, we cannot forget that we accomplished the 10,000 follower milestone in our Twitter account! We invite you to follow @ProgHist to stay up do date with lessons and news related to Programming Historian.

New features

Lessons have a DOI

Due to the nature of our published material on Programming Historian, many of our users were struggling on refer to or how to cite our content. For each open-access and peer-reviewed article we already had embedded citation metadata in our HTML and ORCID’s for lesson contributors, along a “suggested citation” at the bottom of each lesson page.

In order to join the larger scholarly ecosystem and in partnership with the University of Sussex Library, you can now find that each article has its own DOI or Digital Object Identifiers. This link will permanently identify the article on the Internet, also allowing for easier citation.

This of course took a few technical changes or additions by Matt Lincoln, who also published a blogpost in May to assist other community members that might be looking into adding DOIs to their publications.

Full-Text Search Available

Our new technical lead and editorial member Zoe LeBlanc spent several weeks working to have a full-text searching option in our journals. Previously, users could use filter buttons to select lessons based on topic or activity, and sort them by date and difficulty. However, it was not possible to find lessons based on their content. Now you can!

Zoe, together with Matt Lincoln, tried different options but wanted to, ultimately, optimize speed as well as accuracy of results that worked with our static site arquitecture. If you are interested in learning about how this settings works, visit Zoe’s post “Full-Text Search for Lessons” on our blog (available in English only).

Goodbye/adiós/au revoir

This year several of our team members retired from the project after many years of volunteering in the journal.

Antonio Rojas Castro y Víctor Gayol fueron dos de los tres primeros editores de Programming Historian en español, cuando ambos colaboraron en la traducción de la infraestructura para la revista. Antonio ha editado, traducido y revisado numerosas lecciones a lo largo de los años y ha presentado sobre el proyecto en varias conferencias. Además de editar también varias lecciones, Víctor es el traductor de las lecciones de Python con las que nació PH tanto en inglés como en español. Antes de dejar el proyecto, y en el mes de septiembre, impartió el curso “Taller de Introducción a las Humanidades Digitales - The Programming Historian en español” en El Colegio de Michoacán, México.

François Dominic Laramée quitte l’équipe du Programming Historian en français pour se consacrer à ses activités en journalisme technologique et politique, en science des données, en traduction et en enseignement. François Dominic a été un formidable collaborateur avec une énorme contribution au lancement du Programming Historian en français et à l’offre de ses leçons sur Python. Ses compétences, son ethos et sa bonne humeur vont nous manquer, et nous souhaitons bonne chance à notre ami pour la suite de ses aventures.

Matthew Lincoln left the project in mid-June after implementing many of the technical features that make PH sustainable on the backend of things as well as authoring and editing several lessons. You can read a note on his retirement on our second newsletter of 2020.

We will miss Matt, Víctor, François Dominic and Antonio dearly, and we extend the gratitute we are sure our different DH communities feel for their contributions to PH.

Programming Historian en português

E por último, mas não menos importante, um grupo de humanistas digitais do Brasil e de Portugal traduziu a interface da revista e começará a publicar as lições em breve. Esta é uma grande realização para a comunidade de HD e continua os nossos esforços para internacionalizar as nossas lições tanto quanto possível.

A equipe apresentou e discutiu o impacto da revista numa mesa redonda online durante a “I Jornada Nacional de Humanidades Digitais” organizada pelo IBICT, Brasil, no dia 13 de outubro. Convidamos todos(as) a assistir ao vídeo da sessão e a entrar em contato com o editor-chefe Daniel Alves se quiserem participar no projeto.

Logo for Programming Historian in portuguese.

To learn more about the rest of the year 2020, you can still read our trimestral newsletters:

Jan-Mar Apr-Jun Jul-Sep
First Newsletter of 2020 Second Newsletter of 2020 Third Newsletter of 2020
Primer boletín informativo del 2020 Segundo boletín informativo del 2020 Tercer boletín informativo de 2020
Première newsletter de 2020 Deuxième newsletter de 2020 Troisième newsletter de 2020

About the author

Jennifer Isasi is an Assistant Research Professor of Digital Scholarship and Director of the Digital Liberal Arts Research Initiative at Penn State, and a PhD on Hispanic Studies.