Digital Scholarship

JMU Libraries supports a wide array of digital scholarship and scholarly communication activities, introduced on our Scholarly Communications LibGuide. This page provides information about our emerging approaches to digital scholarship, and examples of digital projects. For assistance, please Schedule a Consultation.

Non-traditional Theses and Dissertations

As students are considering nontraditional thesis or dissertation options, we encourage students and their advisers to discuss with the Libraries at the beginning of projects how an alternative presentation of the scholarship may be created alongside the main project for the purposes of long-term access and preservation. For example, a PDF version of a web site could be created and submitted to JMU Scholarly Commons. We encourage discussions to begin during the thesis/dissertation project planning phase, as that may support time-saving and quality measures for the student, academic department, and Libraries. Please use the Consultation Form to get started.

Memorandums of Understanding

Due to the rapid expansion of interest in digital scholarship projects and the challenge of maintaining them over time, JMU Libraries has begun the best practice of writing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in the early planning stages of any project that does not fall under an existing campus-wide service model. MOUs will describe stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, intellectual property, duration of project activity and ongoing support, preservation/curation arrangements, disclaimers, etc. so that all parties embark upon the project with clear expectations. MOUs may be revised any time by mutual agreement.

Recent Projects in Digital Scholarship

Exploring Rockingham’s Past

This  collaborative project between James Madison University and the Rockingham County Circuit Courthouse makes rare documents from Rockingham County’s storied past accessible to the public. Each year, a graduate history intern, in coordination with Courthouse leadership and staff, selects and digitizes a collection of documents from the courthouse archives. The student gains valuable experience in archival and digital historical methods and uses those digitized records to develop an interpretive historical essay to publish on ERP.

Immigrant Harrisonburg

Immigrant Harrisonburg digital archive is an oral history project based at James Madison University to investigate the lives of immigrants living in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Students contribute to this archive through class research projects on the immigrant community in Harrisonburg in HIST 439, History of Immigration to the United States, taught by Daniel Morales, Assistant Professor of History in the Department of History.

Objects of Faith

This website features 3D models of religiously meaningful objects, accompanied by original object narratives that place those objects in their historical context. The models were created and the narratives written by students in the Spring 2017 and Spring 2018 offerings of HIST 362, Introduction to U.S. Religious History, taught by Dr. Andrew Witmer, Associate Professor in the Department of History.

Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia, 1877-1927

This ongoing research project examines one of the darkest, yet almost forgotten, pages of American history: the lynching of thousands of people between the end of Reconstruction and the 1930s in the US South. Senior students actively participated in the process of collecting and organizing hundreds of articles from historical Virginia newspapers, detailing all the known lynchings that occurred in the Commonwealth between 1877 and 1927 for the Advanced Research course, JUST 402 taught by Dr. Gianluca De Fazio, assistant professor in the Department of Justice Studies.


STUDIO 395 is the capstone assignment of HIST 395, an intensive semester-long introduction to historical research methods for History majors. The course guides students through the successive stages of an independent research project, from planning, to collecting and interpreting primary and secondary sources, to drafting, and authoring a polished twenty-page essay. This course has been taught by a number of faculty members from the Department of History.

Virtual Reality Showcase

Students explored the development of film and media theories, culminating in a research-based, writing-intensive, and hands-on final project that tests students’ ability to carry out original research on how a key theme in film and media theory has evolved with the multiplication and proliferation of new media. These video and virtual reality essays were created by students in the Spring 2018 offering of ENG420, Advanced Studies in Film and Media Theory, taught by Dr. Dennis Lo, Assistant Professor in the Department of English.