Exploring Historical War Experiences through Digital Sources and Methodologies -Workshop, 23–24 May 2024, Tampere

Workshop 23–24 May 2024
Tampere University, Finland

Historians have increasingly striven to understand war from the standpoint of human experience in recent decades. The emotional, psychological, and deeply traumatic experiences of people caught up in violence have become focal points of historical research, particularly concerning conflicts like the World Wars of the 20th century. This workshop discusses the study of war experiences through digital sources and methods.

War experiences have been analyzed most often by closely examining the fates of individual people and their ego-documents like letters, diaries, and poems, but digitalization has opened possibilities to explore war from a broader perspective. The digitization of archives has made it easier to access millions of wartime publications, such as newspapers and parliamentary records, now only a few clicks away. Additionally, recent advancements in handwritten text recognition are making historical ego-documents, such as letters, digitally accessible. Transforming documents into data broadens the scope of research from traditional close reading to text-mining methods and creates new opportunities to present war on digital and visual platforms.

What are the implications of digitalization for the study of war experiences? Are individual experiences at risk of being neglected in digital, data-driven research? Or can digitalization offer historians new ways to tell stories and convey experiences of war? It is important to emphasize that experiences should not be understood only as narratives of, or written by, individual people. Experience can also be understood more broadly as a mediating sphere between the macro and micro levels where different impulses (personal, social, cultural, and political) merge to form meanings, concepts, actions, and practices.

We invite submissions of individual papers and panel discussions that present and analyze cases of historical study of war experiences through digital sources and methodologies. The topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • The concept of experience in digital history
  • Source critical reflection on ego-documents, testimonies, and narrative in the digital realm
  • The role of individual people in digital history
  • Mining war experiences and emotions
  • Silence and trauma in digital data
  • Representing war experiences through numerical data and visualizations

Submission guidelines

Please send an abstract of 300 words and a short biography including your name and affiliation to by Monday 12 February 2024. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 29 February 2024.

The workshop takes place at Tampere University, Finland on 23–24 May 2024. The workshop is free for selected participants and provides lunch, coffee, and dinner. The organizers can help to cover travel and accommodation expenses for those without their own funding. Please indicate if you need assistance when submitting.


Project: Digital History and Handwritten Sources (DIGIKÄKI)

The Research Council of Finland’s Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX)

For questions and more information, please write to