Courses > Programming Historian


Programming Historian was founded in 2008 by William J. Turkel and Alan MacEachern. Turkel published a blog post at the time, setting out their intentions for the project. Initially it focused on the Python programming language and was published in open access.

In 2012, Programming Historian expanded its editorial team and was launched as an open access peer reviewed scholarly journal of methodology for digital historians. In 2016, a Spanish Language publication was added to the initial English-language publication and in 2017 translated lessons started being publishing under the title Programming Historian en español. In 2018, a French language publication was added, anticipating the launch of Programming Historian en français, in 2019. A year later, a Portuguese-speaking team was also created, launching Programming Historian em português in early 2021.

Since the beginning, the aim of the project has been to teach the usage of such technologies to classicists, unfamiliar to programming languages. Programming Historian offers introductory lessons on different programs or programming languages such as Python, R, MySQL, SPARQL and others, among them Jupyter Notebooks, GitHub pages, OpenRefine and many others.

All tutorials at Programming Historian are peer reviewed, guided through the review process by one of the editors. The review involves a thorough exchange with the lesson editor to ensure the lesson works as intended and that all concepts are explained for a non-specialist reader before the tutorial is sent to external reviewers.

The review process is an integral component of a collaborative effort for scholars to teach and learn from each other. Once a tutorial slips into the editorial workflow, the team does everything to make sure the tutorial becomes as useful as possible and published in a reasonable amount of time (cfr. Reviewer Guidelines section for more information).

The Programming Historian team is committed to open-source values. All contributed lessons make use of open-source programming languages and software. This policy is meant to minimize costs for all parties, and to allow the greatest possible level of participation. Since 2016, a citable version of the Programming Historian project has been deposited on Zenodo.

All submissions to Programming Historian are published under a Creative Commons ‘CC-BY’ license. This adheres to a ‘Diamond’ open access model of publishing. The version of record is made freely available without subscription fee or restrictions on access. Authors are permitted to republish their tutorials anywhere, as can anyone, as long as they cite the original author and respect his or her moral rights.


By accessing the main page, it is, first of all, possible to select the language among the four possible ones (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese).

From this page, it is also possible to have access to the six different sections of the site:

About: cointains information related to the history of the project and its policies.

Contribute: gives access to a drop-down menu from which anyone can access the guidelines to review, write, translate or edit e lesson: everyone can contribute to PH by writing a new lesson, editing or translating an existing lesson or by providing feedback and making suggestions.

Lessons: the core of Programming Historian: this section gives access to a searchable “Lesson Index”; the lessons are organized by general topics, but buttons can also be used to filter by category.

Events: displays the program of upcoming and past events (some are available online through a YouTube link): in 2022, the PH team launched a program of in-house, multilingual events to support educators, learners and project partners.

Support Us: illustrates the institutional or individual supporters of the project and how to become a partner.

Blog: The Programming Historian Blog is a space to share news about the project, ideas for how someone might use technology in his own works and examples of the PH applied in real life.

Programming Historian has won multiple awards which recognize and celebrate its achievements in the spheres of open access publishing and digital scholarship.

The PH team is committed to diversity, a policy designed also to ensure that the project continues to benefit from diverse viewpoints.

This project is hosted also on GitHub.