Internet Resources: August 2017 Edition

Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the August issue of Choice.

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[Visited May’17] Launched globally in January 2016, this website describes itself as “the new pan-African news media,” with constant coverage of sub-Saharan African and international news and business stories. A group of 85 journalists and technicians from across the continent provides content for AfricaNews in both French and English to its base in Congo-Brazzaville. Topical sections are the expected News, Business, Sports, and Culture sections, along with Science and Technology and a No Comment section containing a gallery of photographs linked to filed stories. The Programmes section presents seven regularly produced shows that air daily (e.g., The Morning CallThis Is Culture!) or weekly (Football PlanetBusiness Africa). Supplementing these internet channels are additional streaming-video programs titled Focus (with in-depth news analysis), Global Conversation (a discussion forum recording responses from world leaders), and Time Out Africa (a calendar showing video excerpts from major cultural events across the continent). The site’s World Economic Forum section reports (by organization and country) on African engagement with the global economy. Though perhaps less detailed in content and organizational contributions than its competitor AllAfrica (CH, Jul’17, 54-4965), founded in 2000 (both sites carry advertising), AfricaNews incorporates all the familiar features of contemporary information delivery users expect at large public, college, and university libraries. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. —R. B. Ridinger, Northern Illinois University

American Politics: Campaign Newspapers. Readex, 2017. Available via a range of purchase models. Pricing is based on multiple factors. Perpetual licensing fees begin at approximately $6,500.00.

[Visited May’17] American Politics: Campaign Newspapers is the sole online resource offering primary-source documentation of presidential and regional campaigns spanning the early Republic (1790–1811) to Reconstruction (1866–77). This remarkable depth of information is compiled from more than 300 digitized newspapers from 32 states published between 1803 and 1876. The compilation also features additional materials that will be immensely valuable to American studies scholarship; the Readex interface allows users to filter for such items as news/opinion, election returns, letters, poetry (including song), legislative acts or legal proceedings, prices, shipping news, advertisements, front page, maps, birth notices, matrimony notices, and death notices.

Searching seems straightforward and easy to use; since updating its platform and search interface more than a year ago, Readex has installed a link soliciting user feedback. The design offers the option of a simple search or an advanced search screen for Boolean searches. One can view results as a full list, defaulting to chronological order, or as a drop-down list sorted in reverse chronological order or best matches. Five tabbed limiters across the tops of results pages give users options to filter search terms (in addition to Article Types) by Dates and Eras, Newspaper Titles, Places of Publication, or Languages. Under each limiter are additional filters; e.g., under Dates and Eras, one can view results restricted to Eras in the History of the Caribbean, US Presidential Eras (from Thomas Jefferson to Ulysses S. Grant), or Eras in American History. Filter options under this latter era point to Early Republic (1790–1811), War of 1812 (1812–15), Era of Good Feelings (1816–22), Jacksonian Era (1823–42), Antebellum Period (1843–60), US Civil War (1861–65), and Reconstruction (1866–77). Another limiter under Newspaper Titles produces a very useful, printable list that specifies starting and ending dates and city and state of publication and allows users to limit searches to one (or multiple) newspapers; one can see at a glance the extent to which states have indexing coverage, the publication schedule, and for what dates content is missing. One of the oldest newspapers—and most complete—is the Worchester (MA) National Aegis, published 1801–76, with more than 3,300 issues. There is, not surprisingly, a very long tail of singleton newspaper issues included here too.

Because one can search classified ads, current prices of important commodities, and reports of births, marriages, and deaths, this robust tool is ideal not only for scholars tracing American political and presidential history but also for researchers at all levels seeking primary-source material concerning broad matters of government, laws, and social practices. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers. —D. Becker, Hennepin County Medical Center Medical Library

The American Slavery Collection, 1820–1922: From the American Antiquarian Society. Readex, 2017. Available via a range of purchase models. Pricing is based on multiple factors. Perpetual licensing fees begin at approximately $7,500.00.

[Visited May’17] Along with other Readex collections of primary-source materials, The American Slavery Collection is part of the Archive of Americana (CH, Jul’17, 54-4988) collection of collections, released in Readex’s “America’s Historical Imprints” series. It comprises more than 3,500 works held by the American Antiquarian Society among its vast collection of material. The society, founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas, is both a learned society and a major independent research library, housing the largest, most accessible print collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music, and graphic arts material, now digitized. These credentials tell researchers that they are accessing the finest in peer-reviewed or expert-selected material. A number of developments in the study of popular culture in the last decade, including the intractable plague of racism still afflicting society, have again popularized the examination of slavery and leading students and scholars worldwide to pursue the truth about this “peculiar institution.” Primary sources are always the most reliable for understanding the root causes of issues, and this new digital collection offers such resources as captivity narratives, memoirs, newspapers, photographs, pamphlets, and graphic materials.

The collection’s subject scope ranges beyond slavery per se to cover such diverse, critically important issues as economic conditions, land reform, railroads, sugar prices, peddlers of goods, taxation, whaling, and much more. For example, researchers can explore the discovery of the West and exploitation of Africa; the rise of slavery in the New World and the concomitant growth and decisive success of abolitionist movements; the development of racial thought, including political protest and resistance to racism; descriptions of African American lives—enslaved and free peoples—throughout the Americas; depictions of slavery and race in fiction and drama; and so forth. Also featured in these rich collections are printed works produced by African American organizations and individuals that allow exploration of new aspects of people, places, and events of the past that have a direct bearing on the present.

The interface is well designed for both novice and expert researchers. One may search by genre, subject, author, history of printing, place of publication, or language (including Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, or Welsh, as well as English). It is simple to target subtopics within search results and to export citations, download pages, and print results. Materials are presented as PDF files or, depending on a researcher’s needs, in bitonal PDF or JPEG formats. Help functions using non-expert terminology are actually very helpful. With travel grant money in short supply, this valuable database of primary sources fills a notable void in African American studies, taking researchers right to the heart of the matter. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers. —D. W. Bilal, Missouri State Library

Herstories: Audio/Visual Collections, from Lesbian Herstory Archives.

[Visited Apr’17] The Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA) has a long, respected history of collecting and preserving the history of the lesbian community, holding thousands of items from periodicals to photographs. This clean, simple Herstories: Audio/Visual Collections website is an online sampling of six collections, all well organized for browsing or searching using keyword, Boolean, or exact-match queries. Site sections deal with the Caribbean-American poet and activist Audre Lorde; Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold, an ethnographic study of Buffalo, NY; the Daughters of Bilitis Video Project; Dyke TV; Mabel Hampton Oral History, and the No More Invisible Women Exhibition, from the Women’s Committee of ACT UP NY. Collections range in size from 20 to 100 items, and a navigation pane within each takes users to specific sections and related online materials. At the browse-item level, users will find thumbnail images of each item complete with explanations and multiple tags to facilitate additional browsing. One can also opt to begin by browsing a tag cloud—perhaps unwieldy due to its size—that features labels such as “coming out,” “butch and fem,” or “consciousness raising.” The site’s About section speaks more to the LHA than to the project; a bit more about the project would be welcome, for example statistics regarding the scope of each collection and how the materials were selected for inclusion. While other sites offer related materials online, such as ONE Archives Foundation at or June Mazer Lesbian Archives at, this project is wider in scope and content. Researchers will appreciate these unique collections, especially the oral histories. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. —E. M. Bosman, New Mexico State University Library

Project Syndicate: The World’s Opinion Page.

[Visited May’17] Project Syndicate is a Prague-based organization (with support from the Gates Foundation and European Climate Foundation) providing syndicated news analyses and commentaries to media outlets around the world. Founded in the mid-1990s to support the growth of independent news media in central and eastern Europe, it has since grown into a worldwide network of writers and media organizations. Its tagline, “The World’s Opinion Page,” effectively signals the nature of its content. The website provides full-text access to the content, and users may browse lists of broad topics and writers’ names or do keyword searches across the site. The PS Focus and PS On Point sections collocate essays on special topics or in particular formats, such as interviews or long-form pieces. The directory of columnists lists hundreds of names, and a drop-down menu available on every page highlights perhaps 70 contributors grouped by the topics on which they write. There appears to be excellent international representation among both the highlighted writers and the complete list. Free registration is required to gain unlimited access to the archive of older material as well as commenting rights. Visitors may subscribe (without registering) to a weekly newsletter of the most-discussed columns as well as the PS On Point newsletter.

Some content is translated into multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish, so the site has potential for use in foreign-language learning. Links provided to the websites of all worldwide media outlets that carry Project Syndicate content can offer opportunities to analyze how the same piece may be presented in different environments or to consider what gets picked up for publication and what does not. Students of journalism, political science, international affairs, and related fields, as well as general audiences seeking commentary and opinion, will find this a highly valuable website. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —H. Corbett, Northeastern University

Renaissance Festival Books, from the British Library.

[Visited May’17] Despite its name, Renaissance Festival Books has nothing to do with the “Ren Fest” outdoor entertainment and reenactment events throughout the US. Instead, it is a collection of 253 digitized primary texts describing festivals and ceremonies of Renaissance Europe. The site is part of the British Library’s Treasures in Full project at, which features high-quality scans of items such as Shakespeare in Quarto and printings of the Gutenberg Bible. The site is mostly an online archive, as it does not appear to have been updated recently, judging from the acknowledgments. Few titles are in English but Italian, French, Latin, Spanish, and German are well represented, and the majority date from the late 1500s to early 1600s.

Pages of documents are presented as individual scans, viewable in small or larger format and relatively easy to read. Arrows provide page navigation. While the full text is not searchable, as noted in Search Tips (found under Texts), information about the books themselves, the festivals described, and various page elements are searchable; users should go straight to the Advanced Search to exploit these features. A static list of the titles is available, but it cannot be reordered, downloaded, or presented on a single page. While of interest to scholars specializing in the study of public ceremony in the early modern period, the texts themselves are unlikely to be accessible to nonspecialists. Even those documents in English are mostly in the black-letter (Gothic) typeface common to the period—a bane to novice readers. Nonetheless, the site offers a wealth of information and analysis in sections labeled Background, The Basics, and Expert Views. The intertwining of public pageantry with theater and art, particularly around Shakespeare’s era, is noted here and could make a useful introduction for undergraduates studying these aspects of Renaissance drama. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. —S. Magedanz, California State University San Bernardino