Introduction to Jupyter Notebooks | Programming Historian

hands typing on laptop keyboard 2

When computation is an intrinsic part of your scholarship, how do you publish a scholarly argument in a way that makes the code as accessible and readable as the prose that accompanies it? In the humanities, the publication of scholarship primarily takes the form of written prose, in article or monograph form. While publishers are increasingly open to the inclusion of links to supplementary code and other materials, such an arrangement inherently relegates them to secondary status relative to the written text.

Jupyter notebooks have seen enthusiastic adoption in the data science community, to an extent where they are increasingly replacing Microsoft Word as the default authoring environment for research. Within digital humanities literature, one can find references to Jupyter notebooks (split off from iPython, or interactive Python, notebooks in 2014) dating to 2015.

Jupyter Notebooks have also gained traction within digital humanities as a pedagogical tool because they provide a more accessible interface for code used in digitally-supported research or pedagogy.

Follow the link below for an introduction to Jupyter notebooks. The lesson covers:

  • What Jupyter notebooks are
  • How to install, configure, and use the Jupyter notebook software package
  • When notebooks can be useful in research and pedagogical contexts

As well as more advanced lesson including:

  • Using Jupyter Notebooks for programming languages other than Python
  • Converting existing Python code to Jupyter Notebooks
  • Using Jupyter Notebooks to scale up computation in environments like high-performance computing clusters

This lesson is suitable for intrepid beginners, assuming little by way of previous technical experience. In fact, Jupyter notebooks are a great resource for people who are learning how to write code.


  • Thanks to Stéfan Sinclair for the references to previous discussions of notebook usage in digital humanities.
  • Thanks to Rachel Midura for suggesting the use of Jupyter notebooks for collaboration.
  • Thanks to Paige Morgan for the reminder about the importance of emphasizing state issues.


Source: Introduction to Jupyter Notebooks | Programming Historian