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What are my time commitments and expectations?

Unlike the traditional Hackathon format, student teams are not required to remain locked into their space. We ask that one member from each team check in at one of our opening events on Friday, and a team-member must be physically present to turn in their projects on Sunday. Apart from that, student team members are free to come and go at their leisure, giving you time to research in Rubenstein, peruse the stacks in Perkins, grab a bite to eat, or attend your regular Friday classes.


Questions related to individual eligibility to participate.

I am not a history major. Can I still participate?

Yes! We encourage wide participation among Duke undergraduates as researchers, project leaders, planners, and creators.

I have never researched in a historical archive before. Can I still research in the Rubenstein Library?

Yes! We encourage newcomers as researchers to carefully identify any collections they might want to use between one and two weeks prior to the event. To do so, search or browse the collection guide, or ask a question directly about a particular resource. You may also find the Rubenstein Digital Collections helpful for your project.


Questions related to prizes.

How much are the prizes?

Each member of winning teams (excluding faculty or graduate student team leaders) receive the following reward:

  • First Place: $200 each
  • Second Place: $100 each
  • Third Place: $50 each

If my team has fewer than 5 members, can we split the remaining prize?

No. Individual team members are only eligible to win up to the amount stipulated each. If there are an excess of teams with fewer than 5 members, the planning committee reserves to the right to enlarge the prize pool of each tier at the committee’s discretion.


Questions pertaining to project research and presentation.

Does my project have to use resources available at Duke, or can it use digital archival sources from anywhere?

This event is intended to showcase the wide variety of physical and digital materials available through Duke’s Rubenstein Library. We require that each project demonstrate some use of resources available in Rubenstein’s special collections. Digital collections can account for this requirement.

I have a question about a certain digital tool to create my project

There are a wealth of experts at Duke who can help you with this. First, try searching the Duke website for specific workshops and course that might be able to fill you in the weeks prior to the Hackathon. You might even find specialists who provide such training to be forthcoming with tips, tricks, and guidance for your own project.

If you need a specific digital tool for your project, check out DiRT, a website collating a large collection of digital research and publication tools.

Need more guided help? Ask one of the graduate students on staff to get you in touch with the experts in The Edge who specialize in digital methods and presentation software. If they can’t directly help you, they can point you in fruitful directions.

What is an example of a project that my team my create?

We hope students will use their own creativity in figuring out the best ways to present the research that conduct during the Hackathon. It might even changed depending on the course of the research! You can never know where it will take you.

However, here are a few sample digital history projects, typically on a much larger scale than student projects are intended to be, to give you a sense of what digital history is:


Your project might use the web as a medium to explore a small slice of history.

  • Bull City Soul – the story of R&B, funk, and soul in the 1960s and ’70s in Durham
  • Small Town Noir – small-time true crime from New Castle, Pa.
  • The Great Chicago Fire & the Web of Memory – the history of Chicago in the 19th century, and how the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time.
Mapping or GIS

Projects may also consist of mapping historical patterns, populations, or trends over time.

Podcasts, Lectures, or Courses

You might also undertake to create a lecture, syllabus, or podcast about certain person or time period that comes to life through the documents you research in Rubenstein.

  • History of American Slavery Podcast by Slate – America’s defining institution, as told through the lives of nine enslaved people.
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class – your project might work like an episode of a podcast like Stuff You Missed in History, a one-off discussion and/or narrative of an obscure or under-studied aspect of history.
  • Serial – a podcast that dives deep into a single story and its mmultiple aspects, characters, and holes.

This list certainly does not capture the full breadth of your project. You might also try to transcribe an individual’s diary, and create a digital archive contextualizing the memories, connections, and historical forces that that person experienced in their life.

You may also try to create a short documentary about a person or group of people, using what is housed in the collections to add texture to their life and times.

The possibilities are endless! If you have questions about what type of project you wish to produce, please email us at