Roy Rosenzweig (1950-2007)

In the early 1990s, when we were juggling laserdiscs, hypertext, CD-ROMs, gopher, and wondering if this thing called the web would ever take off, the big question was how would all this translate into educationally useful models and materials. The technology continues to change, the big question remains the same, but one of the people who provided concrete examples of what was possible is now gone.
Roy A. Rosenzweig was one of the authors of the “Who Built America?” CD-ROM,* a wonderfully rich example of the power of that new media applied to education. It used an expanded textbook model that incorporated images, primary source surrogates, and a well-written text, and became a model for what digital history could be. Perhaps more importantly, it was an eloquent and tangible example of how the digital could be applied to help the study of history. It was one thing to indulge in the usual theoretical musings or ‘future talk’ about the power of technology, how it would change reading, writing, publishing, teaching or learning, etc. but to be able to pull “Who Built America?” off the shelf and actually show someone the possibilities was a far more powerful way of engaging with these issues.
Rosenzweig went on to start the Center for History and New Media, which continues to explore the application of the digital to the historical. Through this and his articles and publications, he proved to be an effective and inspirational advocate for digital historians. The tributes and comments now appearing are testament to his influence on digital historians. He will be missed.
*Who Built America? From the Centennial Celebration of 1876 to the Great War of 1914. Roy Rosenzweig, Steve Brier, and Joshua Brown, American Social History Productions. New York, NY: Learning Technologies Interactive/Voyager, 1995. CD-ROM. PC and Macintosh.

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