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Author: Scott A. Merriman
Title: Electronic Resources - A 19th Century American History Top 11
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
October 2006

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Source: Electronic Resources - A 19th Century American History Top 11
Scott A. Merriman

vol. 9, no. 2, October 2006
Article Type: Site Review

Electronic Resources - A 19th Century American History Top 11

Scott Merriman

Column Editor

This time's column aims at identifying 11 top resources for those interested in nineteenth century American history.

  1. From Revolution to Reconstruction
    This site contains an outline of US history stretching halfway across the 19th century, as the title suggests. While this began as just an outline prepared by the US Information Agency (USIA), the online version provides links to hypertext versions of most of the documents listed, making it a valuable central location to find documents. Besides the expected documents like court decisions and the US Constitution, this outline also contains inaugural addresses, treaties, autobiographies and things like The Confessions of Nat Turner. There are also essays provided, but the quality of these varies.
  2. Avalon Project: 19th Century
    This project in general provides on-line versions of nearly every important document in world history and it is no less true of the 19th century. Some of the documents here include things expected, like the Hartford Convention, President Jackson's reply to South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification, and the Gadsen Purchase. Others are lesser known, but still valuable, and examples of those include the US' entry into a general postal union with much of Europe (titled The General Postal Union) and a reprint of an 1861 book called Ancient Law, by Henry Maine. The collection is well organized and gathers together all the documents in some areas into sub-categories - for instance, all the documents relating to Franco-American diplomacy are grouped together. A great resource.
  3. Nineteenth Century Documents Project
    This is a huge collection of documents dealing with the nineteenth century, as its name suggests. Some of the documents here are searchable by keyword or phrase, and the documents themselves are grouped together by category. Short descriptions are given of some documents. While, as might be expected coming from South Carolina, many of the documents deal with the Civil War, there is good coverage of the rest of the century as well.
  4. The Valley of the Shadow
    This collection is a very well known one, and for that reason I was tempted to leave it off this list. However, its familiarity does not make it less valuable. This set of documents allows one to compare two counties - one in Pennsylvania, north of the Mason-Dixon line, and one in Virginia, south of that line. Teachers or students can do the comparisons and the collection is also available for purchase in CD-ROM form for classroom use. A wonderful collection that highlights how the web can be used for student and teacher research, interaction and learning.
  5. Making of America
    This project, from the University of Michigan, covers nearly 10,000 books and another 50,000 articles. It is fully searchable. The project is continually adding material, making it even more valuable. The volumes range from ones focusing on the Civil War to those focusing on iron workers. The search function lists the format that the results were found in, allowing one to narrow by either books or journals, and the results indicate whether the result is full-text or not. There also is a very useful help feature, and a bookbag that one can store desired results in. Many different searches can be performed on this material.
  6. PBS: Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark
    PBS has produced a whole variety of series on the 19th century, and these are the websites for just two of them. The Jefferson website includes within it classroom activities that a teacher might use along with study sheets for the students and suggested questions, a photographic essay that investigates what might be meant by the phrase "the pursuit of happiness," and an interview with Ken Burns. The Lewis and Clark site allows one to follow the corps of discovery or to read their journals. The site also discusses how the Native Americans were already there before the Lewis and Clark expedition, named the Corps of Discovery, "discovered" the area. There also is, at both sites, a list of online resources in each area.
  7. First Person Narratives of the American South
    Many times in history, the average people get left out of the story, as the narrative focuses on kings and generals. This set of first person narratives allows teachers, researchers and students all to correct that error in their own studies. Among those whose stories are included are women, African Americans and Native Americans. The collection is browsable by collection, and then alphabetically or by subject. Among unexpected treasures here are maps of the Civil War era and biographies of many of the people who are discussed in the narratives.
  8. The world of 1898
    The Spanish-American War is often portrayed as Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill with his Rough Riders, but the war was more complex than that, and the world that the war arose out of was more complex again. This site surveys the various participants in the war and presents biographies of them, along with sections on Cuba, the Philippines, and Spain, among others. It includes a bibliography and links to related sites. A good look at an often-simplified war that ended the 19th century in many ways.
  9. US Civil War Center
    This site includes the Civil War Book Review, an on-line set of book reviews covering many different books on the civil war. The twelve-year run of the review is searchable by keyword, author and title. The site also summarizes the Civil War related manuscript collections at LSU, which is where the Civil War Center is housed and includes a number of online exhibitions.
  10. Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Center
    The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Center aims to collect in one place biographical details about all of the men who fought in the Civil War. This is a great asset to those wanting to do statistical research on the Civil War, or for those wanting to find out about ancestors who might have fought. Rather than having to go do hundreds of places to look up this information, the starting material is all in one place, and all is online. Among the information included is the unit that they fought in and short descriptions of many of the units.
  11. American Memory
    The American Memory project is an important collection of the Library of Congress that presents many different topics that would be of interest to students of the 19th century. The relevant sub-sites range from Civil War photographs, and the Abraham Lincoln Papers to First Person narratives of California, and Maritime Westward expansion. One can search all of the collections, search by title or search by time period.