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American History, 1493-1945

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CHOICE, June 2015
[Visited Mar'15] American History, 1493-1945 is a database for studying early to recent American history. Module 1 covers to 1859, while Module 2 extends coverage from 1860 to 1945. When complete, the 50,000 resources will include video lectures, digitized primary-source documents, historic texts, books, newspapers, and images from the Henry Knox Papers and Livingston Family Papers, and predominantly, the Gilder Lehrman Collection (CH, Jul'02, 39-6639). The editorial board comprises an international group of historians. The site architecture supports effortless navigation.

The Documents section features browsing by date, theme, document type, or subcollections, with advanced and popular search options. Pull-down menus allow users to filter search results. Thumbnail images and links in the search display lead to detailed metadata record views with item-level images and indexed subject hyperlinks. A citation tool enables exporting of bibliographic data into EndNote or RefWorks. The image-view feature supports zooming, panning, rotating, and full-screen controls and excellent resolution (one can even see the grains in the paper). The high-resolution scans, with transcriptions and translations, enable viewers to inspect the handwritten originals. Images in PDF format are available for download, and there is an archive in which to save, retrieve, and search selected documents. The Chronology tab opens an interactive time line with a filter to let users choose themes. The rich galleries under Visual Resources support faceted searching by image type or theme, and various display options. Further Resources offers thematic guides (finding aids to the digitized collections), historical essays (with reference citations), video lectures, directory search, and a History of America in 50 Documents section highlighting the history of African Americans, Native Americans, women, and such themes as religion, migration, and military history.

The Library of Congress's American Memory (CH, Aug'97, 34SUP-134) is a comparable free resource designed to support study of American history with digitized and transcribed primary sources targeting educators, researchers, librarians, students, youth, and families. While American Memory contains 9 million items, the new Gilder Lehman digital collection relies on far fewer sources in its collections but presents them in a consistent design that some researchers may prefer and be willing to pay for. Some parts of the legacy American Memory website simply do not support such reliable navigation and discovery. The license grants authorized subscribers access to these materials for the purposes of research, education, scholarly sharing, and other non-commercial uses. Adam Matthew, acquired in 2012 by SAGE Publishing, does permit free searching through its Archive Explorer interface on the launch page, but requires a subscription to retrieve digitized content. There is no print equivalent for this well-curated online resource, although the existing source collections are preserved in physical format at their contributing institutions.

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.

A. Sabharwal, University of Toledo
CHOICE, June 2015