Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best Historical Websites of 2009

The Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) put out a list of best historical materials of 2009, but since it has some books on it I thought I'd copy the websites here for easy access.

Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive, The University of Southern Mississippi
Materials in this website pertain to Mississippi’s civil rights movement, particularly the seminal 1964 Freedom Summer Project in Hattiesburg. The site contains 149 oral history transcripts, some with digital audio, of individuals involved in the movement in Mississippi, along with diaries, correspondence, pamphlets, newsletters, posters, journals, photographs, and other items selected from the University of Southern Mississippi’s manuscript collections. The historical context section details the history of the civil rights movement in Hattiesburg and Mississippi; explains the role of Oxford, Ohio, in the movement; and lists Freedom Summer civil rights incidents by county or city. A thorough explanation of copyright permission policies for the collection along with a list of other civil rights collections completes the collection. Keyword searching of the collection is available through the cooperative Mississippi Digital Library.

National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults
This amazing website contains a database of some twelve hundred documents, photographs, drawings, maps, and other materials drawn from the vast holdings of the National Archives and covering all periods of U.S. history to about 2004. Users can collect images and use them to create posters, slide shows, and educational games or find materials for further research.

The site opens with a rotating display of images. Moving the cursor over one activates a pop-up with its title and record details. Details include a short description, tags (descriptors) that link to related images, links to educational resources (lengthy essays and suggested teaching activities), and additional resources (links to related materials in the Archives and articles from Prologue, the Archives’ quarterly journal). Instructions are available but hardly necessary.

Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA), Rice University.
This extensive collection of images, texts, and maps document European and American travels to Egypt in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection includes photographs, book illustrations, postcards, stereographs, museum and exhibition catalogs, travel guides, travel narratives, and cultural studies of Egypt and Cairo. It can be browsed by title, place name, creator, date range, or broad subject categories, such as Art and Artifacts, History and Politics, and Religion and Festivals. In addition to primary sources, it includes educational modules that contextualize the material and offer research strategies, as well as GIS maps with information about historical and religious sites, place names, water, elevation, and political boundaries. Gathering hard-to-find material, TIMEA should be useful to researchers at all levels interested in Western interactions with the Middle East in this period.

Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade, Emory University
This resource, sponsored by Emory University and the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a visually rich and authoritative website that provides information on the slave trade that spans (and is organized by) five continents. In addition to the text-based resources of traditional bibliographies, Voyages also includes maps, images, lesson plans, and a database of African names. Content (much of which is downloadable) is organized so that users can navigate the website in many different ways, such as searching by material type or geographic region. New users will find the website’s glossary helpful in understanding specialized terminology. Because of the website’s unique interface, the scope of information available, and the fact that the content is available to the general public via the Web with software demonstrations, Voyages would be a recommended resource for both introductory and advanced research.

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