Nanohistory - an Experimental Digital History Methodology

Lay Summary 

NanoHistory is a historical social network platform currently under development that allows users to track historical people, organizations, places, things, and their interaction over time. Our approach uses verbs to preserve agency and to try and keep your events human-readable. When we stick countless events together involving any number of people, organizations, places, and things, the result is a cultural network that reflects the kinds of interactions and situations people have in everyday life. They meet for drinks, they write books, they live in places, and they create and produce new objects.


NanoHistory is also a response to the overwhelming nature of Big and Linked Open Data for individual humanities scholars. It asserts that the cleaning up and critique of such data requires providing scholars access to a nano-level granularity to historical data. One of the problems scholars are facing is not only the sheer amount of data now available, but how to use it effectively. This means turning from being consumers of Open Access data into producers and mashers. NanoHistory allows users to pull data from existing resources and mash it up with their own. Or critique it. It's meant to be both a kind of middleware for Open Data, as much as a tool for doing your work.


It is a major revision of the custom research environment built for the McGill-based project 'Making Publics' which concluded in 2010, and the Network Event Model which resulted from a 2012-13 SSHRC Public Dissemination Grant.


More information about this project can be found here.


Adapted from


Social Science and Humanities Research Council
Newfoundland and Labrador
Digital Humanities
Start date 
1 Jan 2019