Will history survive the digital age?

As the world moves online, the paucity of physical documents will prove a huge challenge to future endeavours to document the past...

Illustration by Hugh Cowling

This article was first published in the March 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine.

There is something very powerful about holding the record of the past in your hands. It might be a box of letters you found in the attic of your grandparents’ home, an old photograph album or a cache of newspaper clippings. You find the letters in the box a little difficult to read at first, but the stylistic quirks and turns of phrase soon become easier to decipher. They are all dated, addressed and signed, so you can use the correspondence to locate the writer and recipient in time and space.

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