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Digital Health Humanities

What is it?

Digital Health Humanities is an emerging domain that leverages digital methods and tools to critically analyze archival health sciences materials in the pursuit of humanistic research. Digital Health Humanities (DHH) research uses computational methods and digital resources to explore research questions investigating the human experience of health and illness. As such, its application can be useful for researchers in not just the humanities, but also those seeking to ensure historical context and humanistic perspectives are represented in social and health sciences inquiry and research findings.

Digital Health Humanities resources

Archives as Data research guide

“Archives as Data” refers to archival collection materials in digital form that can be shared, accessed, analyzed, and referenced as data. Using digital tools, researchers can work with archives as data to explore and evaluate characteristics of collection materials and analyze trends and connections within and across them. UCSF Archives and Special Collections provides access to many of our health sciences collections as data. In collaboration with subject matter and technical experts we provide digital health humanities programming and learning resources to encourage and develop researcher capabilities using data science techniques to analyze “archives as data.”

The Archives as Data research guide provides researchers with a centralized resource hub with descriptions of datasets that have been prepared from archival collections including the:

Researchers will also find information on accessing and using archives as data, as well as links to learning resources about various data analysis methods.

Online learning resources

The Digital Health Humanities section of UCSF CLE makes available online learning resources and recordings from Digital Health Humanities classes and workshops. These include sessions providing an overview of Digital Health Humanities, approaches to Finding and Exploring Archives as Data, and recorded walkthroughs from workshops held in collaboration with the Data Science Initiative. The Data Science Education and Training Portal is also a valuable and extensive hub of information about data science learning resources.

The No More Silence initiative is a significant, foundational precursor to DHH programming at UCSF. Outcomes of this initiative include direct computational access to data from the historical documentation of the San Francisco Bay Area’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as documentation from hosted workshops on working with these archives as data. Researchers can find code and other resources from these workshops now made available for independent exploration.

Digital Health Humanities pilot programming

With initial funding from the Academic Senate Chancellor’s Fund, via the Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication, Digital Health Humanities (DHH) pilot programming launched in 2023. UCSF Digital Health Humanities programming orients faculty and other researchers to the many possibilities of integrating methods from humanistic health sciences, digital humanities, data science, and archival research in pursuit of better understanding and contextualizing human experiences of an influences on illness and disease.

To accommodate multiple entry points for researchers interested in DHH, training and resources introduce a range of analysis tools and platforms. Researchers are invited to participate in training sessions within a curricular framework that includes core skill building in finding, exploring and evaluating data from archival collections as well as learning computer programming techniques for working with such data. Digital Health Humanities pilot collaboration with the Data Science Initiative includes partnering to offer workshops in the Python for Data Analysis series and related companion sessions that integrate “archives as data” from Archives and Special Collections into hands-on exercises and process walkthroughs.

Contact us with any inquiries about Digital Health Humanities programming and resources, or to request project consultation.