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Author: Deborah Lines Andersen
Title: Benchmarks: Roy Rosenzweig (August 6, 1950-October 11, 2007)
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
December 2007

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Source: Benchmarks: Roy Rosenzweig (August 6, 1950-October 11, 2007)
Deborah Lines Andersen

vol. 10, no. 3, December 2007
Article Type: Benchmark

Benchmarks: Roy Rosenzweig (August 6, 1950-October 11, 2007)

Deborah Lines Andersen

Benchmark: a standard by which something can be measured or judged.  [1]

Roy Rosenzweig

As 2007 closes it is appropriate to dedicate this issue of the Journal of the Association for History and Computing to Roy Rosenzweig who died on October 11, age 57. Roy was a champion of digital history, and a friend and colleague to many members of the Association for History and Computing. Historical scholarship plus digital media defined Roy's academic life as author, filmmaker, documenter of oral histories, and social and cultural historian.

Roy Rosenzweig received his PhD in History from Harvard University in 1978. His dissertation was published as Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). One would not have known with this work in 1978 that Roy was to go on to become what many have called the father of digital history.

He and Daniel J. Cohen authored Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web in 2006.  [2] Available free online  [3] as well as in a print version, the online version provides a series of live, cached and pdf links from the book that are critical to an understanding of digital historical media.  [4] Paving the way for this seminal work, before the book came the September 11 Digital Archive (given to the Library of Congress in September 2003)  [5] , the Center for History and New Media that he founded in 1994 at George Mason University  [6], and the CD-ROM "Who Built America?" (1994).  [7] "Who Built America" was a finalist for Interactive Media Festival Award, one of many awards that Roy Rosenzweig received.

This list of awards is long, varied, and distinguished by works in history as well as digital media. It includes:

  • The James Harvey Robinson Prize of American Historical Association for "outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history" for History Matters, January 2005.
  • The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Award for Excellence in the Humanities, December 2004.
  • The Forrest G. Pogue Award for Excellence in Oral History, March 2004.
  • The Richard W. Lyman Award (presented by the National Humanities Center and the Rockefeller Foundation) for "outstanding achievement in the use of information technology to advance scholarship and teaching in the humanities," 2003.
  • The State of Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 1999.
  • "Edsitement" selection by National Endowment for the Humanities for "History Matters" web site.
  • Historic Preservation Book Prize for Best Book of 1998 from the Center for Historic Preservation, Mary Washington College and Award of Merit from American Association for State and Local History for The Presence of the Past.
  • The James Harvey Robinson Prize of the American Historical Association for "outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history" and for Who Built America? CD-ROM.
  • Urban History Association Prize for Best Book in North American Urban History; Abel Wolman Prize for Best Book in Public Works History; Abbott Cumming Lowell Prize for Best Book of 1992 from Vernacular Architecture Forum; Historic Preservation Book Prize for Best Book of 1992 from Center for Historic Preservation; New York Historical Association Award for Best Manuscript on New York History, 1991 (for The Park and the People.)
  • The Forrest G. Pogue Award for Excellence in Oral History, November, 1987.  [8]
  • In the days that followed his death the Internet became populated by blogs, articles, remembrances, and memorials to this scholar and friend.  [9] Google "Roy Rosenzweig" to view the "about 241,000" entries that appear. There is something heart-wrenching about reading obituaries and memorials intermixed with materials that Roy wrote himself. The present is mixed with the past. The verb tenses have not yet caught up with reality. There is an eerie sense in all these that he is still around in some dimension of virtual space. There is no doubt that his work still is and will be influential for a very long time-a benchmark to measure what has and can be done in the field of digital history.

This Issue of the Journal

As with each issue, this one presents columns that track trends in history and computing, be they technology, ejournals, or new publications in the field. Lynn Westney brings her detailed and insightful column on "E-journals Inside and Out." Jeremy Boggs again provides his "Electronic Resources Column," and Julie Holcomb presents a new set of "Print Resources in History and Computing."

Additionally, this issue presents two articles that look at history and computing from new points of view. Maximilian Kalus' "Semantic Networks and Historical Knowledge Management: Introducing New Methods of Computer-based Research" explores relational databases for history, presenting a case study of a system that implements historical semantic networks. He uses information from Florence, Italy in the 15th century, and the European-Asian pepper and spice trade in the 16th century to populate and illustrate this method of data analysis.

Vivien E. Zazzau has used her expertise as a university librarian and bibliographer to create her bibliography and bibliographic essay entitled, "Transforming Archives through Information Technologies: A Bibliography." This reference of 212 articles not only shows the kind of digital information behaviors and resources that are available to archivists, but also presents a very full picture of the kind of research that is being done today in the field of archives and technology. Given the extremely close partnership that necessarily exists between historians and archivists, this article is a fine addition to the journal.

Finally, this issue presents a new feature in the form of a work-in-progress. PhD student Christof Schuppert and Professor Andreas Dix from the University of Bamburg, Germany, have created a student-professor team to write, "GIS-based Analysis of Large-scale Historical Maps and Archival Sources to Reconstruct Former Features of the Cultural Landscape Near Early Celtic ‘Princely Seats' in Southern Germany." Their article points out "how an archaeological question can be approached by the use of historical-geographical methods with the help of a geographic information system." It is the hope of the authors and the journal that this piece will generate interest and responses to the authors who are looking for feedback on their work. The authors' email addresses are included with the article. Geographic information systems are a critical aspect of multimedia history. In its online format that easily allows for non-print materials, the journal is well positioned to encourage more articles that use this important information technology.


1. "Benchmark," American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed., 2000.

2. Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.






8. This list of awards is from Roy Rosenzweig's Curriculum Vitae at

9. For example, see a compilation of remembrances on the History News Network at