Call for Digital History Submissions for the 2014 AAHM Meeting

What We Are Seeking

Short multimedia clips on any aspect of the history of medicine. Clips under 3 minutes are strongly encouraged, but two or three part serials of up to a total of 9 minutes (absolute maximum) will also be considered.

Now if you think, “But I’m not a film-maker . . . ” think again. We are particularly interested in videos of the sort that almost anyone can make. By way of example, here are clips about: 1) the notion of a persistent vegetative state, and 2) worms in traditional Chinese medicine.

As you can see from these videos, if you can compose and narrate a lucid Powerpoint or Keynote presentation, you can almost certainly make a make a compelling AAHM Short. For details, see “How Do I Make a Short?” below.

The Motivating Background

Advances in computer hardware and software have recently made it possible a for a historian equipped with just a personal computer (and even without a video camera!) to craft aesthetically rich multimedia clips that blend narration with images, video, and sound. Composing a scholarly short is now technically quite easy, and requires no specialized training in programming or film editing.

What might this new ease of multimedia composition mean for teaching and presenting research on the history of medicine? This is one of the questions that we hope to explore at the AAHM meeting in Chicago. To this end, we are are soliciting submissions of short videos—“AAHM Shorts”—on any aspect of medical history.  We will include a representative selection of these on the conference website as examples of the expanded new horizons in historical narration. Some of these videos will, in addition, be featured at a grand screening (with popcorn!) on the first evening of the conference (Thursday, May 8), followed by panel discussion of the evolving horizons of scholarly communication.

How Do I Make a Short?

We are happy to accept submissions made with any software, and experienced film-makers are welcome to use their editing programs of choice, whether it be iMovie, Windows Moviemaker, Vegas Studio, Final Cut, Adobe Premier, or Avid. But as the above examples show, it is entirely possible—and often easier—to make engaging scholarly shorts following the three simple steps below:

  1. 1.     Prepare a Keynote or Powerpoint presentation of your story or analysis
  2. 2.     Record your narrated presentation with a video capture program (see below)
  3. 3.     Export the recorded presentation as a movie (.mov or .mp4) file.

That’s it!

What Video Capture Program Should I Use?

The best of the current video capture programs, in our view, is Camtasia. The program is easy to learn (the makers provide a set of online tutorials), intuitive to use, and is remarkably versatile and powerful. Among its appealing features is the possibility of enhancing your recorded presentation with additional music and sound tracks. The program can be downloaded for a thirty-day free trial, and versions are available for both the Windows and Mac.


Thanks to a special agreement with TechSmith (the makers of Camtasia), AAHM members may download a customized, fully functional version of the program that will work for a free 90 day trial (rather than the standard 30 days), so members have time to participate fully in the Digital History initiative. We urge you to take advantage of this exceptional opportunity and have fun experimenting!

This special trial version can be downloaded from the following sites:

Camtasia for Windows


 Camtasia for Mac



Where Can I Find Images and Other Media?

Because these movies are intended for public sharing, it is important that any media that you use—whether it be pictures, music, or video clips—should be in the public domain, under a Creative Commons license that permits their free use. Among the sites that are particularly rich in usable historical images include the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Wellcome Trust, and the Digital Public Library of America. (Note that you should check the restrictions associated with each image in any of these collections.) You can also search in Google Images, and apply the “Usage Rights” filter under the Search button to check for images that may be used.

To find music that can be used for the movies, some good sites are ccMixter, Free Stockmusic, and Incompetech.

The Prelinger Archives is a particularly rich source for clips under Creative Commons license.

Who is Eligible to Submit?

Any member of the AAHM, even if you cannot attend the Chicago meeting.

How Should I Submit?

You should:

  1. Upload your video to either Vimeo (recommended) or Youtube. (tutorial on how to create an account and upload videos forthcoming)
  2. Send the Vimeo/Youtube link to your video to Jeremy Greene <>

You are also welcome (though not required) to submit PDF text files to accompany the videos. These text files might be articles or papers that give fuller accounts of the subject present in the video, for example, or bibliographic guides for further reading.

The Deadline for Submission:

April 28, 2014