Keeping the “Human” in Digital Humanities

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Cory Rasmussen, graduate student at Chapman University, had the opportunity to read historic, handwritten letters of U.S. soldiers as part of a class assignment, and digitize them.  The letters, housed in Chapman University’s Leatherby Libraries, give a window into the lives of soldiers, going as far back as the Revolutionary War, until the present day wars in the Middle East.

Chronicling history through letters is a normal task for digital humanities scholars. For Rasmussen, the experience had special meaning.

“My eyes brimmed with tears as I realized that inside the next room there were boxes of voices, pieces of soldiers’ souls, documented in ink and paper. I felt a quiet respect wash over me, like I was at a funeral and the body was just in the other room,” Rasmussen said.

Recalling the letters  that his own grandfather, who served in the Korean War, wrote his grandmother, he, the graduate student said this:

“Buried somewhere among my grandfather’s things are the letters he wrote to my grandma while in Korea. One day, I think I’d like Chapman to have some of them. I’d love for his words to be immortalized and shared with the world”

Read more about Rasmussen’s experiences in his article, Finding humanity in the digital process.

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