Assistant Professor of History Elena Razlogova’s new software simplifies the management of research findings from the web or for video and audio files
If you’re a student or academic still writing copious research notes on three-by-five index cards, grab a wastepaper basket now! Your life is about to get easier, thanks in good part, to historians like Elena Razlogova.
Before joining Concordia as an assistant professor of History in fall 2005, Razlogova collaborated with historians and software writers at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to develop Zotero. “It’s an easy-to-use program that lets you collect, manage and cite your research sources directly within a web browser, which is how most of us get our information these days,” Razlogova explains.
She has continued to suggest ways to improve Zotero since becoming the director of Concordia’s Digital for participation in historical research and interpretation.
Razlogova and her colleagues at Concordia and George Mason universities developed a program to facilitate the organization of audio and video. Called Vertov, this plug-in addition to Zotero lets you keep an audio or video ﬁ le intact while isolating portions of it to annotate. “It really speeds things up because all the information related to a keyword can instantly be accessed,” Razglova says.
She relied on Vertov to store and analyze nearly 150 radio-show audio files for her upcoming book, The Listener’s Voice: The Cultural Economy of Radio, from the Jazz Age to the Cold War. Zotero made it simple to link close to 3,000 letters from listeners and other information relevant to specific audio segments.
Razlogova demonstrated Zotero and Vertov’s research value in January at the American Historical Association’s annual conference in New York. One of the sound clips featured part of a 1940 true-crime radio show about a college graduate who robbed a bank. “A listener wrote to the producers asking them to reconsider their story because many people were hungry during the Great Depression and robbing a bank might have been a last resort. His letter puts the story in a different context,” Razlogova recounts.
Staying true to the Digital Lab’s commitment of making history more accessible, Razlogova will build a website that features some of the controversial radio moments discussed in The Listener’s Voice and the letters they generated. “I’ll show how the correspondence influenced the direction of a show and the industry in general,” she says. Razlogova adds that she then plans to set up an online forum that will generate further discussions about radio’s history.
More information about Concordia’s Digital History Lab and how to download Zotero and Vertov for free is available at digitalhistory.concordia.ca.