Digital Humanities 2017 workshop – Call for Proposals: Privacy-sensitive Collections for Digital Scholarship

Posted on May 9th, 2017 .


Humanities scholars have historically used archives that include restricted or privacy-sensitive collections in order to conduct their investigations about sensitive topics. The recent developments in digitization and dissemination technologies present the possibility of making archival collections broadly available. Furthermore, collections of new, born-digital documents will be readily available to support and enhance scholarship. However, such access has also exacerbated threats to the privacy of individuals named in these records. Examples of such privacy-sensitive records include mental health institutional records, prison records, records of the Truth and reconciliation commissions, Nazi archives, and the Guatemalan national police archives. Access to paper records is protected by distance, physical barriers, and varying state and national policies and laws. In some cases, the legal frameworks for digital records are substantially less clear than those for physical records. Furthermore, the online availability of such records has a potential to stigmatize or embarrass the families or descendants of those named in the records when they bear no responsibility for the acts or health conditions of the named individuals, raising ethical issues in providing broad, open access to these records. In addition to scholars, demographics such as family members, journalists, social services providers, and policy makers can all benefit from access to these historical collections.


We invite scholars and practitioners who work with or are interested in issues surrounding humanities scholarship supported or enhanced by digital, privacy-sensitive collection to contribute to and participate in this workshop. A non-exhaustive list of topics includes:

Digitization, curation, and preservation of privacy-sensitive collections
Theoretical and metadata models
Policies, workflows, and protections for accessing materials
Issues in using cloud services for privacy-sensitive materials storage and scholarship
Scholarly information behavior and needs
Models that recognize diverse user needs (for example, aggregate data, individual information)
Institutional and political negotiations surrounding access to privacy-sensitive collections
Mechanisms and models for data retrieval from handwritten documents
Privacy-aware digital repository architectures
Privacy-aware crowdsourcing and transcription methods
Privacy issues in designing user interfaces and data visualizations
Privacy mitigation in data analytics and presentation
Evaluation of existing software, infrastructure, and techniques
Social justice issues and non-scholarly outcomes of work with restricted collections
Proposals: formats and submission

All contributions must be written in English.

We encourage you to submit proposals for:

full papers (up to 3,000 words, exclusive of references): submissions that report on mature work or stake out a position in an area of interest
work-in-progess papers (up to 1,500 words, exclusive of references): submissions that present early results or a nascent project
Please submit papers via the workshop’s EasyChair submission page:

Important dates:

May 15: due date for all proposals
May 31: Notification of acceptance
June 7(expected): Early registration date for DH 2017 ends (workshop participants must register for both the conference and the workshop)
August 1: Submission of final, camera-ready papers
August 7/8: PC4DS 2017 Workshop
Program Committee (evolving)

Donald Fyson, Département des sciences historiques, Université Laval
Pat Galloway, School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin
Unmil Karadkar, School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin


Please contact us in case of questions.

Unmil Karadkar (
School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin

King Davis(
School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin


The organizers are funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (grant number: 11500653) under the scholarly communications program.

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