Humanities: Technology & Digital Humanities

Discipline-specific technology resources can be difficult to locate. Incorporate the media type into your search such as the words mobile apps or images.

Digital Humanities

Digital humanities is an area of scholarly activity that connects computing with humanities. This area offers new opportunities for collaboration between and among the disciplines. For instance, the LOTR Project explores the works of J.R.R. Tolkien explores many ways to experience the text including interactive maps, timelines, and statistics.

DevDH.org: Development for the Digital Humanities and the DiRT Directory provide ideas for project development and the tools used in building digital humanities projects.

DHCommons connects users with a wide range of digital humanities projects.

Read Digital Humanities Resources. I created this document for a new undergraduate course focusing on digital humanities information sources. It contains links to dozens of recent examples and projects.

Mobile Apps

While mobile apps aren't as popular in the humanities as they are in other disciplines, there are a growing number of apps. Art apps are being produced by many art museums and religious apps by religious organizations.

Commercial Apps

Art Apps. Many art apps focus on sales. In other words, they may provide design ideas, but also try to sell the consumer furnishings or wall hangings. Reference sources provide links to art information sources online. Many education apps help users learn about art topics such as artists and techniques. Museum apps are focused on the works of their particular museums. Design apps are particularly popular including both reference sources and educational materials. There are many art production tools. Unfortunately, these vary in quality.

Language and Linguistics. Mobile apps are very popular in the area of language including language translation and education programs.

Literature. Many works of literature have been expanded to include analysis, interpretation, and tool features. They may also contain social media and multimedia features.

Music and Performing Arts Apps. Apps can be found in the area of live performance, education and how-tos, and reference sources. Music discovery apps are also popular, however many of these have in-app sales to get users to purchase music. Music production tools allow users to create and remix music.

Philosophy and Religion Apps. Many apps are available for sacred texts related to specific religions such as the Bible. While some of these apps just contain the text, others provide analysis and interpretation. Many apps are focused on works to encourage children to participate in religion.

TouchPress is known for their outstanding humanities apps including Beethoven's 9th Symphony, The Orchestra, Liszt Sonata in B Minor, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. T.S. Eliot Waste Land is an analysis of this famous work. Seamus Heaney: Five Fables, War Horse, and Shakespeare's Sonnets are other examples in the area of literature. Apprentice Architect for kids is another example. In the area of art, check out Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy.

try itTry It!
Go to TouchPress. Explore their outstanding commercial apps.
You don't need to purchase an app, but be sure to watch one of their videos to get a sense for the contents.

Government Mobile Apps

Below are examples of government produced mobile apps available through iTunes. Many of these apps are also available for other operating systems. Go to US Government Mobile Apps for a master list.

Scenario Stumper
I'm looking for a mobile app that might get children excited about art. I teach art as part of an afterschool program and I was to get beyond the basics. We have access to iPads.
The NGA Kids ArtZone by the National Gallery of Art, Washington app contains eight interactive activities for youth inspired by the museum's collections.
The Bottom Line... there are lots of great art apps for kids, however seek out those that encourage users to go beyond simple digital painting activities.

try itTry It!
Download a mobile app in a discipline related to the course. If you don't own a mobile device, find a friend who does. You need to know how this works! Review the app. What do you think? How might it be useful as an information source? Who's the audience? Share your findings.

Read Copper, Cathryn (Spring 2014). Incorporating technology: using tablets and apps as reference and teaching tools in architecture school libraries. Art Documentation, 33(1), 119-128.

Online Tools

Online tools can be found across disciplines.

Art Tools

Language Tools

Online Translators



Literature Tools

Music Tools

Philosophy Tools

try itTry It!
Skim Sula, Chris (2012). Philosophy through the Macroscope: Technologies, Representations, and the History the Profession, The Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, 1(1).
Visit Phylo. Think about ways this resource could be used.

Read Simeone, Michael, Guiliano, Jennifer, Kooper, Rob, & Bajcsy, Peter (May 2011). Digging into data using new collaborative infrastructures supporting humanities-based computer science research. First Monday, 16(5). Available: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3372/2950

Social Media

Many social network sites have been established for individuals interested in particular areas of humanities.

English Social Networks

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Read Gilman, Susan & Vincent, Alyssa (Spring 2013). Pinteresting possibilities: rethinking outreach for design students. Art Documentation, 32(1), 138-151.

Go to Pinterest. Brainstorm how this social media tool could be used in one of the humanities areas.

Read Bonini, Tiziano (2014). The New Role of Radio and its Public in the Age of Social Network sites. First Monday, 19(6). Available: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4311/4093


Subject indexing is critical for the effective use of images. However, there are challenges in both creating and using these indexes for accessing images. For instance, Pavel Rygiel (2012) noted that paintings, drawings, engraving, and photographs are associated with the history of various places. The names of places change depending on cultural and political influences. When searching for place names, it’s important to consider both what a place it called today as well as how it was known in the past.

Fine arts have special issues such as physical access, formats, security, quality of digital reproductions.

Images in Humanities

Artwork. Whether seeking a Civil War sketchbook or a recent painting, there are many sources for artwork. Many of these are housed in museums and archives, however digital reproductions may be available online.

Technical Drawings. Technical drawings are produced in many areas of art, design, and architecture. When searching for these types of images, be sure to use the words "technical drawings", "architectural rendering" or other key words associated with the image being sought.

Music Notation. Music notation is a symbol system, so the documents such as sheet music are often found within image collections.

Subscription-based Image Collections

CAMIO is OCLC's Catalog of Art Museum Images Online. Faculty, students, and researchers use this subscription-based system to build or search collections. The collection includes works from dozens of art galleries and museum. Available through IUPUI.

Art (Subscription-based)

Open Access Collections

Art (Open Access)

Scenario Stumper
We've been exploring Native American ledger art as a representation of art and history associated with native peoples. We've read The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle by Gay Mattheaei. My students would like to see more examples. Do you have ideas.
The Plains Indian Ledger Art website has an excellent collection of ledger art to explore. Each image also contains ethnographic notes.
The Bottom Line... when looking for online art collections, be sure to select digital sources that contain the option to zoom in close on the works.

Art: Costume Design

Performing Arts

Religious Studies

Beaudoin, Joan E. (2014). A framework of image use among archaeologists, architects, art historians, and artists. Journal of Documentation, 70(1), 119-147.

For additional information, skim Beaudoin, Joan E. & Brady, Jessica Evans (Fall 2011). Finding visual information: a study of image resources used by archaeologists, architects, art historians, and artists. Art Documentation, 30(2), 24-36.

Read Martinez, Katherine (2009). Image research and use in the humanities: an idiosyncratic bibliographic essay. Art Documentation, 28(1), 9-15.

try itTry It!
Browse the image collections. Select a topic and search for additional image collections associated with your topic. Create a list of six of your favorite collections.


Audio recordings are an important source of information across the humanities.

Diane Rasmussen Neal (2012, 7) notes that

“music information retrieval research centers on similarities of musical content… These methods, however do not address semantic, iconic, or other facets that are emotionally or intellectually meaningful to the user.”

Most of the systems that index user-generated music content focus on genre (.e., classical, pop) as the primary mode of categorization. Jason Neal notes that “even recommender systems, which utilize other measures to determine similarity, give the appearance of drawing upon genre” (Neal, 2012, 15). He suggests that alternative traits could be used to judge similarity of music. Having studied services like Pandora and last.fm, Neal notes that it’s important to use the many attributes that these services use in additional genre to better understand and classify music. He concludes that

“the literature on alternatives to genre-based classification, such as tagging, considers other musical aspects that may resonate more deeply with users of MIR systems, such as mood, emotion, and context. Literature on music and cognition, as well as analyses of cross-genre inclinations among musicians and listeners, would provide useful guides for creating systems that could more easily match music with individual traits, and possibly foster the development of unforeseen online music communities” (Neal, 2012, 32).

Diane Rasmussen Neal and Niall Conroy (2012) used blog accounts of music information behavior to study how people use and share music. Neal and Conroy (2012, 83) found that

“the emotional needs of users feature prominently in how music is searched for and shared. Users describe a preference for browsing and collecting behaviour, rather than targeted search-type activities.”

Morris, Elizabeth Berndt (2012). Building a collection in electronic music: considerations and sources. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 15, 34-40.

Subscription-based Music Services

Many libraries subscribe to Freegal Music.

Online Music Services

Archives often have an option to search by audio recording. Go to the Advanced Search area of most digital collections and locate the formats available for the search.

Many free, online streaming music services exist. However, each has different uses and conditions.

Scenario Stumper
I'm doing a project on novelty tunes. I'd like to download a copy of two versions of the same song and do a direct comparison. I'd like to have a file I can import into Garage Band. The songs are from 1924 and 1959.
Let's start at Archive.org and see if it's available for download.
The Bottom Line... Both Billy Jones & Ernest Hare (The Happiness Boys) Does Your Spearmint Lose Its Flavor are available.


Video recordings can be found across the humanities particularly in the areas of dance, film, and theatre.


Alexander Street Press

Scenario Stumper
I need to do a multimedia presentation for my art history class on the theme of weather in art. I need some ideas.
Alexander Street Press provides engaging videos related to pieces of artwork. A video focusing on William McTaggart's painting The Storm might inspire some ideas.
The Bottom Line... use multimedia examples to inspire multimedia projects.


Scenario Stumper
I'm looking for high-quality author videos to show to my children. I'm finding a hodge-podge at YouTube.
Try TeachingBooks.net. Available through IUPUI and Inspire.
The Bottom Line... Showing videos is a great way to get youth interested in authors.

Open Access



Teaching Resources

Art: Student Video Resources

Art: Video Resources

Music - Search YouTube for any song title or artist and you'll find a video. Many videos are ad-based. It's also useful for information about musical instruments.


English: Student Video Resources

English: Video Resources

Linguistics and Languages

Language: Student Resources

Language: Video Resources

Read Peterson Holly J. (2012). Established, Emerging, or Phantom? The State of the Film Studies Discipline. B Sides, 1-20.

Read Dougan, Kirstin (July 2014). “YouTube Has Changed Everything”? Music Faculty, Librarians, and Their Use and Perceptions of YouTubeCollege & Research Libraries, 75(4), 575-589. Available: http://crl.acrl.org/content/75/4/575.full.pdf+html


Read Homenda, Nick (2011). Music libraries on YouTube. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 14, 30-45.

Read Tewell, Eamon (Fall 2010). Video tutorials in academic art libraries: a content analysis and review. Art Documentation, 29(2), 53-61.

try itTry It!
Select a topic within the humanities. Explore the resources provided. Also, conduct your own searches. State the topic and information need. Then, share a photograph, infographic, other image of your choice, audio, AND video all related to the same topic (or general area). You can share the actual media document or a link. How do they each provide a different perspective on the topic.


The EDSITEment from National Endowment for the Humanities contains some of the best starting points for people interested in the humanities.

try itTry It!
Go to EDSITEment and choose a grade level. For adults, choose K-12. Then, a subject area and type of resource.

Humanities Websites

Links from Library of Congress


Art: Websites

Art: Teacher Resources

Art: K-12 Student Resources


Language and Linguistics: Websites

Language: Teacher Resources

Language: Student Resources

Language: Student Resources


Literature: Websites

English: Student Resources


Music and Performing Arts: Websites

try itTry It!
Create your own list of favorite websites in each area.


Neal, Diane Rasmussen & Conroy, Niall (2012). Information behaviour and music information retrieval systems: using user accounts to guide design. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523

Neal, Jason (2012). Precedent or preference? The construction of genre and music recommender systems. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523

Neal, Diane Rasmussen (2012). Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523

Rygiel, Pawel (2012). Subject indexing of images: Architectural objects with complicated history. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523

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