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NARAtions: The Blog (and Wiki) of the United States National Archives

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I am adding  NARAtions to my blogroll along with other sites that help me with my research. I’m sure this won’t be news to many of you but NARAtions is, as my article title suggests, the U.S. National Archives blog. The stated purpose…

We began this blog because we are hoping to talk with you about online public access to the records held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).   We care about improving your researcher experience.

There are currently seven bloggers most of whom appear to be “history geeks” – a phrase I use only with the utmost respect and admiration.

As I embark on my own thesis research in Civil War naval history, I am both appreciative and disappointed with what is online from our National Archives. Apparently,  the cost of digitization means that a small percentage of available materials have been digitized. What a shame that there isn’t more. Interestingly, ancestry.com has pension records for soldiers and sailors of the American Civil War and I have full access to the site (yes a pretty penny).

NARAtions

They’ve also created a Wiki called “Our Archives” where the public can contribute. It is accessible here. This could actually be a good thing if adopted. It will be interesting to see if it is given more respect among historians than other Wikis. The stated purpose of the Wiki is as follows:

Our Archives is an online space for researchers, educators, genealogists, and Archives staff to share information and knowledge about the records of the National Archives and about their research.

Our Archives Wiki

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Repositories of Primary Sources

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Terry Abraham

Abraham Photo source: idahohumanities.org

Primary sources are gold for this emerging historian. An assignment for my Historical Research Methods class led me to Terry Abraham‘s Repositories of Primary Sources maintained at the University of Idaho. Effectively a database of websites, it provides links to thousands of sites across the globe holding primary sources of varying kinds. It’s important to note that many of the sites listed do not provide digitalized versions of primary sources accessible on the web. Abraham is clear in pointing out that while the site provides links to  “holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar,” they are “solely of web sites that describe” these collections. Because the focus is on the repositories, virtual collections and exhibitions themselves won’t be found on the site.  Abraham points out that other sites maintain listings of archival exhibits on the web. An excellent example is the  Smithsonian Institution Libraries. [Do a search on the Civil War.]

Organization of Repositories of Primary Sources is geographical. Thus one needs to have some idea where a holding institution is physically located. There is also an “Additional General Links” list which has, among other things, other archival portals across the globe.

Abraham, Emeritus Professor, was Head of  Special Collections and Archives at the University of Idaho Library from 1984 to 2005. He has an interesting article on lessons learned in bringing archival materials to the web available for reading here.

Repositories of Primary Sources

Civil War Blog Addition and British History Online

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I’ve made some additional adds to my blogroll and links. First a belated welcome to Jim Beeghley whose blog, “Teaching the Civil War with Technology” has not only a strong premise but some terrific posts.

Welcome Jim! http://blog.teachthecivilwar.com

And thanks to Alex Rose over at The History Man blog for a lead to British History Online. This is an impressive site with some great information including primary sources. I’ve added it under a new category titled History Sites of Merit.

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Kudos for the New York Times and Google

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I am quite impressed that the New York Times has digitized and made available on the web many of their stories written as far back as the 19th century. I find them extremely useful.

Case in point: In my Historiography class, we are actively discussing German, French and American historians iBancroft Portraitn the 18th and 19th centuries. George Bancroft , pictured right, (see my earlier post on Bancroft here) is a topic of discussion not only because of his status as the preeminent American historian of the 19th century, but because he was heavily influenced by German thought on – among other things – historiography. One topic led to another and eventually to a discussion about Bancroft’s views on slavery. As it turns out, a review of Bancroft’s then upcoming work Literary and Historical Miscellanies, was published in the New York Times on June 12, 1855 and titled “Bancroft on Slavery.” This was easily found using Google search. One can preview the article here and read it in its entirety in pdf format (see snippet below).

How cool is that? I’m sure the New York Times derives benefit from the advertising placed even in their archives section. I’ll put up with a few ads to not have to travel to the library and look up articles on microfiche.

THANK YOU to the good folks (whoever you are) who made this decision at the New York Times. Oh and THANK YOU Google Books for making Bancroft’s Literary and Historical Miscellanies available online in its entirety as well. Now if we can only get more dissertations into Google Scholar.

Bancroft on Slavery pdf
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In Search of Primary Civil War Sources

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A short post for today. I’ve been busy locating and cataloging  “primary sources” related to the Civil War for my reading and research. It’s also the focus of an assignment due at the end of next week. I’ve started a new filter for sorting inks to those sites that I’m finding.

 Abraham Lincoln Papers - The Library of Congress

Please feel free to share if you have any suggestions. I’m amazed at the breadth of information. Well organized sites are preferred. So far – and not unexpectedly – national archives and universities have proved the best sources. I am very hopeful that projects to digitize important historical documents will continue.