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Author: Julie L. Holcomb
Title: William G. Thomas and Alice E. Carter's The Civil War on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
September 2002

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Source: William G. Thomas and Alice E. Carter's The Civil War on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites
Julie L. Holcomb

vol. 5, no. 3, September 2002
Article Type: Book Review

The Civil War on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites

Julie Holcomb

Navarro College

William G. Thomas and Alice E. Carter, The Civil War on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites (Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 2001) ISBN: 0-8420-2848-X.

Print guides to web sites are, as William G. Thomas and Alice E. Carter note, a "risky undertaking." Sites often change, sometimes substantially and many disappear, victims of changing interests, priorities, or resources. Thomas and Carter's guide, The Civil War on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites will certainly be no exception; however, that said, the authors have written an excellent guide to Civil War resources on the web and in the process formulated high standards for future websites.

Thousands of books are published each year about the Civil War, so it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of Civil War websites. Books, however, are subjected to an editorial process while anyone with the time, interest, and resources can create a web site about the Civil War. One of the frustrations of researching the Civil War on the web is the tedious sifting that must be done to find the truly quality sites. Thomas discusses the state of Civil War scholarship, print and electronic, in his introduction to Civil War on the Web and provides insight into the difference between validated, professionally created sites and those sites that perpetuate old prejudices and ancient theories. As Thomas and Carter demonstrate, the very best sites are as likely to be created by dedicated individuals as they are by libraries and archives and either group is capable of creating high quality websites worthy of exploration.

The text itself is organized into two parts: "The Very Best Civil War Web Sites - Reviews and Ratings" and "Sites Worth a Visit - A Topical Index." The latter section includes some four hundred sites that while not the best of the best are still worth a visit. It is the first section, however, that forms the heart of the text. Each site in Part I is reviewed in detail and is rated on its content, aesthetics, and navigation. Sites are organized by topic; topics include battles and campaigns, political and military leaders, slavery and emancipation, women, and regiments. The reviews analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each site and suggest ways the material may be used. For example, the chapter on women in the Civil War profiles archival collections (Duke University), national historic sites (National Park Service), women soldiers (National Archives and Records Administration), and women's activism (Civil War reenacter Jan P. Romanovich's site about the United States Sanitary Commission). The women's history sites include primary source materials, background material, and teaching aids. The "Women and the Freedmen's Aid Movement" site, according to Thomas and Carter, "has immediate applications to the high school and college level classroom" and is "also of immense value to anyone seeking an understanding of how the Civil War gave women opportunities to play a role in public life at the same time that it reminded women of the limits to their participation." (117) Academics and enthusiasts alike will find Civil War on the Web a valuable guide to online Civil War resources.

The book includes a CD-Rom edition of the text.