Best Historical Materials

RUSA History Section Historical Materials Committee

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Welcome to the annual review of the “Best Historical Materials.” Each year members of the Historical Materials Committee, RUSA History Section identify and review valuable and unique English-language print bibliographies and websites of interest to the historical community. With the increase in free and fee-based electronic indexes and databases, both the production and value of lengthy print bibliographies have diminished. However, this year the group selected three print bibliographies and four websites for inclusion in our annual list. All websites are freely available, and as far as we can determine, recently created (2008–10). The print bibliographies were all published in 2009. Reviews of these recommended sources were all completed in April 2010.

Members of the library profession are invited to submit suggestions of print indexes and bibliographies as well as online resources to the committee for consideration. Nominations from any historical time period will be considered. Suggestions, with appropriate bibliographic information, should be sent to Jenny Presnell ( The next submission deadline is October 31, 2010. Feel free to come and discuss sources at the committee’s meetings at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.

Blewett, Daniel K. American Military History: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources. 2nd ed. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2009 (ISBN: 1563089483).

Although this is a second edition of an existing work, Blewett has significantly revised, expanded, and brought his earlier title up to date after fourteen years. A bibliography of reference resources, Blewett’s work includes all types of reference sources from almanacs and atlases to quotation dictionaries and websites. Included is a chapter on general reference sources, followed by chapters organized chronologically from American colonial days to the current wars against terrorists. Major conflicts have subsections for each military branch of service. While a very good source for American military research, a significant omission is a section within each chapter for personal narratives, such as Garold Cole’s two bibliographies of Civil War–era personal narratives, which arguably might be more useful than some of the quotation dictionaries. Recommended for all libraries.—Joel D. Kitchens, Texas A&M University Libraries

Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History Online. University of Oklahoma Western History Collections. Reviewed Apr. 19, 2010.

This site consists of typescripts of interviews conducted 1967–72 with Indians in Oklahoma regarding their history and culture. It focuses on four areas: traditional way of life, changes in life and culture since the end of the reservation, contemporary life and culture, and beliefs about the past. Also included is a list of tape recordings of contemporary activities, such as council meetings and traditional ceremonies. All tribes currently residing in Oklahoma were included, with detailed coverage of selected tribes. Transcripts are arranged by tribe and can be browsed or searched by keyword (including through the full text of the transcripts). Although visually unexciting, the site contains a wealth of information not available elsewhere. Recommended for all libraries.—Jean S. Kiesel, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

European History Primary Sources (EHPS). A combined effort of the Library and the Department of History and Civilisation of the European University Institute. Reviewed Apr. 23, 2010.

Part of the WWW Virtual Library: History, this site provides links to free scholarly websites of digitized primary documents and online digital archives on European history. Researchers browse by country, language, period, subject, or type of source. Advanced searching features include a combined categories search and a free-text search that scours website titles and tags. All digital archives bibliographic entries and libraries listed can be jointly searched via a special Google search engine. Brief descriptions and categories accompany the link to each website. Follow EHPS on Twitter and Facebook or obtain an RSS feed to keep updated on regularly added content. Recommended for all libraries. —Isabelle Flemming, Ela Area Public Library

Making of History 1989: Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. George Mason University. Reviewed Apr. 23, 2010.

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, this collection, created by George Mason University, explores the events in the 1980s that culminated in the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe in 1989. Easy to navigate, this site provides sources offering a variety of perspectives relevant to the final collapse of communist control. Features include primary documents translated into English, video interviews with scholars of Eastern European Studies, and case studies of specific events. These secondary sources add a wealth of information and demonstrate the significance of the primary sources. Teaching modules with lesson plans, bibliographies, and other aids, make this an ideal resource for instruction, especially to high school or undergraduate students. Recommended for all libraries.—Isabelle Flemming, Ela Area Public Library

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Reviewed Apr. 28, 2010.

The institute has gathered a broad collection of links to other collections and websites detailing cases of genocide and the issues that surround human rights crimes investigations. While access to the categorized list is difficult to find (use quick links on the right), the directories contents will lead all levels of researchers to unique sites. Sections include Genocide and Geographical Information Systems (links to the Documentation Center of Cambodia map); Radio Broadcasting (links to Clandestine Radio Intel Web); Forensic Science and Atrocity Crimes (links to Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team). The site also provides links to specialized web-sites by nation, region, or case (Africa, Tibet, etc.). While the subject is sensitive, the information is accessible to all levels of users.—Jenny L. Presnell, Miami University Libraries

O’Brien, Elmer J. The Wilderness, The Nation, and The Electronic Era American Christianity and Religious Communication 1620–2000: An Annotated Bibliography. ATLA Bibliography Series 57. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow and American Theological Library Association, 2009 (ISBN: 0810863138).

With access to so many electronic databases, good bibliographies are hard to find today. This expansion of a previously published bibliography in 1993 provides summative annotations of published scholarly works that discuss communication methods of clergy, churches, associations, and religious publishing houses. Organized by historical periods, the bibliography includes examinations of such topics as evangelist television, Native Americans, science, captivity narratives, and slavery. While the bibliography focuses on religion, much of American life is tied to religious beliefs and activities, and as such, this work is useful for a wide range of American cultural studies. Recommended for academic libraries.—Jenny L. Presnell, Miami University Libraries

Woods, Marianne Berger. The New Woman in Print and Pictures: An Annotated Bibliography. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland, 2009 (ISBN: 9780786436248).

The phrase “new woman” was used to describe “liberated” women beginning about 1894 and signified a change in women’s societal roles. Woods has compiled British and American primary (1894–1938) and secondary (1962–2008) resources that use this particular phrase. Types of sources included literary (novels, poems, essays), visual (advertising, illustrations), and periodical, both scholarly and popular. Arranged chronologically, the bibliography contains detailed summative annotations. The index contains not only authors’ names but also broad subjects (African American, bicycles, sex roles). This work is an excellent source for women’s culture at the turn of the last century. Recommended for academic libraries.—Jenny L. Presnell, Miami University Libraries

RUSA History Section Historical Materials Committee contributing members: Isabelle Flemming, Jean S. Kiesel, Joel D. Kitchens, and Jenny Presnell, editor and chair.

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