The African Digital Age: Collecting and Analysing Ephemeral Sources with Students of History


Theme 4 ‘value of knowledge’.
Summary: Traditional source analysis skills as taught in the current history curriculum insufficiently prepare students in working with digital sources and online collections. As we are increasingly entering a paperless world and the contemporary present will mostly be preserved in a digital format, students digital literacy, such as critically assessing and authenticating online sources, is crucial to master in order to become a well-trained professional historian and correct-informed member of society. These 21st century skills are inexorably crucial for students of History to obtain as more and more established archival collections have become digitalised but more importantly current collection formation entails mainly a search for and evaluation of ephemeral online primary sources. Simultaneously a digital divide, the uneven access of new media technologies in Africa, is creating an archival bias of digital sources of the contemporary African past. Training students who specialise in African History how to select, assess, evaluate and eventually archive online primary sources, will not only enhance students digital literacy but will also help form and expand an archive for the future and give ownership of collection formation to this generation of students.


Project number


Main applicant

A.M. van der Wal PhD

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Instituut voor Geschiedenis


01/05/2020 to 31/07/2021