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DEVONthink for Historians

February 11, 2020 — Eric Böhnisch-Volkmann

When we created DEVONthink in 2002 we had Mac users in mind doing research, online or offline. Avigail Oren’s profession is exactly that as independent scholar and co-editor of The Metropole, the blog of the Urban History Association. She teamed up with Ada Barlatt, entrepreneur and engineer, and the two created a row of great online courses named DEVONthink for Historians.

We created DEVONthink for Historians because there was no in-depth guide for how to use DEVONthink to store archival documents.

Avigail used the software successfully for her dissertation and wanted to share what she had learned with other historians and researchers. Then she met Ada, a business process efficiency expert and owner of Operations Ally.

Together we realized that in addition to teaching others how to use DEVONthink, we had an opportunity to create custom templates and scripts that would make it easier for historians to add citations for their archival documents to a reference manager tool like Bookends. DEVONthink’s scripts made it possible to custom-build a solution to the most inefficient step in the historian’s workflow. 

Our goal with this course is to provide historians and researchers with a tool that helps them recognize that the work they do every day is a process, and that this process can be improved and made easier with just a little forethought and effort up front. We teach DEVONthink for Historians students how to use software, but also how to think about the role the software plays in their workflow so that they spend more time and mental energy on their research and writing, and less time on tedious, repetitive tasks like citation. 

You can find more information on Avigail Oren’s homepage. Avigail and Ada also have a YouTube channel that you don’t want to miss if you’re using DEVONthink as a historian.