Building the Digital Lincoln  •  digital history project, september 2009

Building the Digital Lincoln

This special resources site offers a snapshot of how historians and digital humanists have helped to build a new understanding of Abraham Lincoln with a series of innovative and powerful Web-based tools. Their contributions during the decade preceding the Lincoln bicentennial have significantly altered the landscape of Lincoln scholarship by widening and deepening access to a vast array of primary sources. The result has been a more finely detailed portrait of President Lincoln, his relationships, and his career’s most pivotal moments.

Analyzing documents and artifacts

Representing Text

Reading BoxThe usefulness of traditional paper documents and physical artifacts has been enhanced by digital tools. This section demonstrates two of those tools: computer-generated word clouds tabulate the frequency of word usage in text passages and digital scrapbooks present photographic reproductions of source materials in interactive, multidimensional ways.

Visualizing Data

Data Mapping BoxDigital texts are useful to researchers partly because they can be searched so easily. Through a timemap and a hypergraph this section demonstrates how the digital world enables scholars to visualize and connect previously isolated texts and data collections.

Dynamic Maps

Map BoxThe digital revolution has helped increase the utility of maps as a research tool. This section provides a glimpse into three dynamic ways that scholars can use maps online to enhance their work: GIS, 3D models, and a zoomify map.

Presenting scholarship digitally

The digital revolution has offered not only new tools to assist historians in their research but also new forms of presentation for scholarship. Here are three versions of digital presentations of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.


This expandable slide show, produced by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History and the House Divided Project at Dickinson College, provides a short narrative of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.


This documentary video incorporates visual images to describe the background and significance of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It has been posted on YouTube and created with free Microsoft software called PhotoStory3.

Online Essay

This new form of online essay reads like a traditional essay but contains interactive sidenotes that allow readers to go directly to the sources and materials within the House Divided database. These documents, in a print essay, would have been merely referenced in static footnotes or endnotes.

Lincoln resources

Lincoln on the Web

Lotw BoxThis is a quick guide to the most useful sites on the Web currently available to Abraham Lincoln scholars.

Lincoln Recollections

BuchananThis is a bibliography of hundreds of published Lincoln-related recollections now accessible in full-text online.

Lincoln Books since 1995

Biblio BoxThis section offers a searchable bibliography of the more than 200 Lincoln books published since 1995 that informed Matthew Pinsker’s essay, “Lincoln Theme 2.0,” which appears in the September 2009 special issue of the Journal of American History.

Digital toolbox

For digital humanists and tech-savvy historians who want to try to build their own versions of the resources featured on this site, we have compiled a list of the software programs utilized here and briefly described their features.


“Building the Digital Lincoln” is the result of a partnership between the Journal of American History and the House Divided Project at Dickinson College.