Collaborations in Liberal Arts Colleges in Support of Digital Humanities

Aug 26, 2016

The field of digital humanities has been rapidly expanding over the course of the last decade. As such, academic institutions have been working to identify ways of supporting these new endeavors in a time of economic struggles. The Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) at Hamilton College was conceived as one possible model of supporting digital humanities scholarship at a liberal arts institution. The DHi model relies heavily on collaboration among different teams in the Library and Information Technology Services across campus, and with institutions across the United States. DHi also has international partnerships that promote its goals in research, learning, and public humanities. This chapter will describe the various collaborations of DHi and offer suggestions for how others can implement similar support models at their institutions.


  • Lisa M. McFall (Hamilton College)
  • Janet Thomas Simons (Hamilton College)
  • Gregory Lord (Hamilton College)
  • Peter J. MacDonald (Hamilton College)
  • Angel David Nieves (Hamilton College)
  • Steve Young (Hamilton College)

DHi Infrastructure

Oct 7, 2014

DHi’s technology infrastructure and research support model are designed to be innovative and sustainable. Our approach reduces the need for regular revamping of static faculty research web pages by creating infrastructure and processes that maintain research outcomes as ‘living” web presences accessible for faculty and student collaborative scholarship. To this end we researched best practices in the development and preservation of digital collections and have developed an institutional repository for digital collections (Fedora Commons Fedora was chosen for its scalability and extreme flexibility in the manner in which objects can be accessed. Fedora also has built-in flexibility for the creation and maintenance over time of relationships between objects and across digital collections.

We use Islandora ( and other open source collaborative tools to interface with collections in Fedora Commons (  Islandora can be used to create customized themes for faculty collections and projects. Our DHi collection development team works with Islandora and Fedora Commons consultants at Discovery Garden ( and Common Media ( with our Liberal Arts Islandora Consortium Group members (Grinnell, Lafayette,Vasser, Williams & interested partner, Amherst) to create our digital scholarship infrastructure. Our collaborators and outside consultants understand our wish to keep everything we develop open source.  This includes the modules we pay to have developed so that they are available for other schools to use and extend for their purposes. In this way, we also collaborate with experts on the development and learn for ourselves what it takes to create each project.

In addition to building this infrastructure model, we also subscribe to an Internet-based storage system to “mirror” our Fedora Commons repository to ensure that the digital collections developed through DHi have multiple and redundant back ups and frequent checks for data erosion. All collections in the DHi Fedora Commons repository will be preserved by DHi at Hamilton College as ongoing digital collections. The archive will be accessible through an Islandora/Drupal multisite web presence that also serves as the initial “publication” of the data to the public. We work closely with faculty and students on each DHi research project to coordinate and design the customized themes they wish to include in presentation layers and develop any missing features or to identify potential features in the open source community.  The web presence we are building for each DHi research project will be maintained and updated as new Drupal modules are developed. All programing code for these Drupal sites along with the Islandora/Drupal modules developed in consultation with Discovery Garden is available on Github and other open source code sharing Internet sites (ex: Islandora Wiki).

Digital Humanities: Development and Evaluation in Tenure and Promotion

Nov 7, 2013 to Nov 12, 2013

Northeast Deans Annual Meeting 2013

7 November 2013

Angel David Nieves Janet Thomas Simons,
Co-Directors, Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi)

Jim Ralph
Dean, Faculty Development & Research
Middlebury College’s Digital Scholarship Working Group

Hamilton College, Clinton, New York 


Session Goals

Explore and provide some answers to the following questions: 

  • What are the understandings and how do we connect a common understanding? 
  • Where are our institutions in DS development & P&T Guidelines for Digital Scholarship?


Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior

Sep 27, 2013

Essay "Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior," published in The Atlantic by DHi faculty fellow Doran Larson (American Prison Writing Archive), on the topic of the American prison-industrial complex.  Available online at The Atlantic website, or for PDF download (see sidebar for links).

DHi Newsletter: Fall 2012

Nov 1, 2012

DHi's Newsletter, Fall 2012 edition, detailing the New York Six Digital Humanities Consortium meetings that took place on Hamilton's campus in October 2012.

DHi Annual Report: 2011-2012

Jun 1, 2012

DHi's Annual Report, chronicling the year's accomplishments in DHi's research, project development, and events.

DHi Support Process

Sep 22, 2010

A diagram detailing the support process of a typical DHi research project, beginning with the development of a project's research questions and carrying through to its eventual integration back into the academic curriculum.  This document helps to explain the development process, and serves as a useful reference throughout a project's development life-cycle.

DHi Project Guidelines

Sep 22, 2010

DHi's project application form and guidelines document, for faculty considering a digital humanities project in coordination with DHi.  This document also details DHi's annual Call for Proposals (CFP) and each semester's submissions schedule.

DHi Announcement

Sep 20, 2010

DHi's announcement document after receiving its grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation -- the largest humanities grant ever received by Hamilton College -- introducing DHi as a research and teaching collaboration where new media and computing technologies are used to promote humanities-based research, scholarship and teaching across the liberal arts.