Internet Resources: December 2017 Edition

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

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Caribbean Newspapers, Series 1, 1718–1876: From the American Antiquarian Society. Readex, 2017. For academic libraries, Readex offers a one-time tiered purchase price with an annual maintenance fee; contact publisher for pricing.

[Visited Sep’17] This recently launched Readex collection brings together the digital representations of more than 140 newspapers from 22 islands in the Caribbean. Most newspapers included in this resource are in English; French, Spanish, and Dutch publications make up a smaller portion of the database. Images of the newspapers are of high quality, allowing researchers a highly satisfactory experience interacting with the text, much as it must have appeared over 200 years ago. This rich collection also allows students with an instinct for discovery to replicate the experience of combing through diverse types of primary-source materials, including advertisements of slave sales, shipping news, editorials, poetry, or public notices of local governments.

Users can choose from a simple search box or be guided by several advanced field-searching options. A complete list of the newspapers included can be sorted alphabetically by country, language, or date, supporting a variety of ways to browse titles issue by issue when that strategy is useful. Full-text searching is state-of-the-art, picking up keywords even when the scan is not particularly clear. Helpful search limits appear on the initial landing page. These provide students new to the field with intellectual prompts for structuring their searches. The Dates and Eras section prompts allow limiting to periods of Caribbean or American history and US presidential eras, and each selection opens to more fine-tuned options (e.g., Colonial Trade and Plantation System, 1718 to 1750). Limits can also be added when one is well into a search. Results can be bookmarked, downloaded, and e-mailed. Tagged citations can be imported into bibliographic software programs. Entire issues can be downloaded in PDF format to portable devices for later use.

Material in this resource adds depth and expanded regional coverage to Readex’s other newspaper collections, such as the Early American Newspapers series (CH, Apr’06, 43-4401), (CH, Dec’12, 50-1798), (CH, Jul’14, 51-5900), and (CH, Dec’15, 53-1574) or its Latin American Newspapers series (CH, Oct’09, 47-0599) and (CH, Jan’15, 52-2292). Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners. —J. H. Pollitz, Southern Illinois University

Center for Immigration Studies.

[Revisited Sep’17] The Center for Immigration Studies, whose associates study the impact of immigration on the US, is a self-described non-partisan research organization. Their tag line is “Low-immigration, Pro-immigrant,” leading to a decided preference for information that promotes limiting all immigration. The resources available include data, analysis, fact sheets, maps, and videos supporting their conclusion that high levels of immigration, both legal and illegal, impede national goals for better public schools, safeguarding the environment, and providing “a living wage for every native-born and immigrant worker.” The site has changed considerably since it was first reviewed (CH, Apr’03, 40-4678), having evolved from what was primarily a clearinghouse of external information and links to related websites, to a sophisticated collection of digital content produced by highly qualified researchers and analysts. The subjective opinions of directors Mark Krikorian and Steven Camarota remain central to the material presented. The strength of this site is its wealth of primary-source materials, including briefing documents, transcripts of conferences, C-SPAN videos, and text from testimonies before government officials, along with maps, graphs, and infographics. The site is timely and at the epicenter of the current debate over immigration reform. It takes a sophisticated researcher, with a keen eye for bias, to benefit from the data and primary sources that populate the site. Instruction librarians and political science faculty will find fertile ground here for discussing and evaluating sources with their students. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. —J. H. Pollitz, Southern Illinois University

Persuasive Geography: The PJ Mode Collection, from Cornell University Library.

[Visited Sep’17] In 1974, Judith Tyner completed a dissertation study on the concept of “persuasive cartography,” which lead to subsequent discussion in the fields of communication and psychology on the use of maps as a “subjective tool of communication.” Like many resources created to influence the user, these maps are designed for maximum effect, and so is this powerful digital collection. Lawyer and amateur map historian Mode, who donated his collection of maps to Cornell, writes in the About section that “a map is different from other forms of communication because it is uniquely presumed to be a source of honest, objective information.” Cornell University Library gave this collection a digital home; more than 800 maps are now available for viewing.

The site is easily navigable from both the library catalog and the link to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections’ platform. The scope is broad, and one is presented with three levels of browsing: by complete collection; by subject (or message); and by date posted. There are links to various essays (one highlights three different cartographers represented in the collection), as well as a 2016 video lecture on this project that Mode delivered to the Grolier Club. The collection ends with an extensive list of references; although there are no convenient hot links to the open-access articles among the cited works to help users connect to more information about a fascinating subject, this oversight could easily be remedied. Cornell University Library has worked with the donor to curate and supply metadata for this richly developed, unique digital collection. The platform offers an intuitive way for students at all levels to download the full-color images and use them for a project. An image really can tell a thousand words. One should take a peek and listen to these stories. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. All levels. —A. C. Quinn, Central Washington University

ProQuest History Vault: Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals and the Union Army (1854–1870). ProQuest, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing (based on FTE, purchase history, and other factors); annual academic subscription begins at about $2,369.00; perpetual-access licensing begins at about $11,843.00.

[Visited Sep’17] This addition to the ProQuest History Vault platform joins four other modules in the Southern Life, Slavery, and the Civil War collection: Slavery and the Law, Series I and II; Southern Life and African American History, 1775–1915, Plantation Records, Part 1 (CH, Mar’13, 50-3631) and Part 2; and most recently added, Reconstruction and Military Government after the Civil War, 1865–1877. Divided into 16 collections, this particular module contains more than 300,000 pages of Civil War era full-text/full-image primary source material held at Louisiana State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, the Virginia Historical Society, and at the National Archives and US Senate Library. As with other collections offered on the ProQuest History Vault platform, the documents are derived from microform collections, some published under the University Publications of America imprint. Included here are the papers of Confederate and Union soldiers and civilians, along with correspondence concerning the recruitment of African American soldiers. Numerous official reports and records are also contained in the database, including those of the Judge Advocate General, the Provost Marshal General, and the seven volumes freely accessible online of Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America. Coverage ranges from ordinary soldiers and civilians to well-known figures such as Confederate General Robert E. Lee or famed detective Allan Pinkerton.

The collection is fully searchable. Basic searching retrieves documents by keyword, phrase, or topic. Advanced searching adds the capability of using Boolean operators and specifying search terms by subject, geography, principal correspondent, federal agency, organization, person, document title, or by all fields—either including or excluding the full texts of documents. Sources may also be browsed by collection, while the platform’s featured time line supplies a sampling of documents by date. The module can also be cross-searched with any other ProQuest History Vault titles that an institution has licensed. Image quality varies greatly depending on the original document’s condition and/or its microfilming, but the image viewer itself works very well and offers a range of viewing options. Citations to document records may be saved, printed, emailed, or exported to either EndNote or RefWorks; the documents themselves can be downloaded as PDFs to print or save. This rich and varied collection is a valuable resource for all levels of research on the American Civil War period. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers. —R. P. Nash, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Trade Catalogues and the American Home. Adam Matthew, 2017. Pricing based on FTE, purchase history, and Carnegie Classification; a typical one-time purchase with nominal fee (0.5% of purchase price) ranges from $19,500 to $65,000.

[Visited Sep’17] Focusing on American consumerism from 1850 through 1950, this collection covers the history of business in America, how companies marketed their products, and the design and technology of everything produced and sold at the time. Pulling from three robust archives—the Hagley Museum and Library and Henry Francis du Pont’s decorative arts Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library (both institutions located in Delaware), along with the Donald C. Davidson Library at the University of California Santa Barbara—this online collection includes everything from the trade catalogues of its title to correspondence, ephemera, leaflets, manuals, postcards, price lists, order forms, sales documents, and trading cards, all presented in high-quality, scanned PDF images of the originals, and available for download.

Spanning such an impressively wide variety of content types, collections also feature an expansive breadth of industries; each document is assigned to a primary industry, allowing for easy navigation within a wide variety of research areas. The industry groupings include advertising; animals and agriculture; automotive; bicycles, carriages and wagons; clothing and accessories; construction and real estate; cosmetics and personal products; crockery, glassware, and utensils; department stores and mail order catalogues; DIY and gardening; education, gifts, and stationery; entertainment, arts, crafts, and hobbies; food and drink; health and medicine; home decorating and design; household goods and appliances; sport, leisure, and outdoor; and toy and game. Within each industry classification is a robust collection of documents and images ranging from the black-and-white images of the late 1800s to the original full-technicolor images of the mid-1900s. There are a few things dating from 1950–80, but the majority of these primary-source documents exemplify American consumer culture up to the mid-20th century.

Supporting a range of interdisciplinary research, this collection is vivid in offering highly illustrated catalogues from major companies such as Bausch and Lomb, Colgate Palmolive, Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Herman Miller, and numerous others. A company directory, along with directories of featured brands and places, assists the selection of search terms. Normal copyright protection and standards apply, and each item provides citation and export tools, allowing materials to be shared via URL or downloaded PDF. This well-rounded collection includes the original documents along with excellent search capabilities, fine summaries of key businesses, and a graphical chronology, and images including trade cards and online exhibitions highlighted in the Gallery section. These excellent resources provide rich study opportunities for those doing research on social history, the history of business and the rise of marketing, and all aspects of consumerism including the changing role of women as homemakers and their economic power in US society. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Beginning students through professionals/practitioners. —C. Goodnight, Stockton University

Smithsonian Folklife Festival: 50th Anniversary, from the Smithsonian Institution.

[Visited Sep’17] In summers, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian museums celebrate US diversity with the annual Folklife Festival. Since 1967, the event has hosted 225 programs and thousands of participants, displayed 800-plus objects, and attracted millions of visitors. This year, to commemorate its golden anniversary, the Smithsonian has gone beyond its usual festival activities to create an e-celebration. A work in progress, the Smithsonian website has begun to bring together a compilation of various anniversary keepsakes. The most fully developed of these—each component linked or searchable from the launch page—is 50 years, 50 Objects: Storied Objects from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 1967–2017, featuring objects created for the festival by artisans and craftspeople from around the world. The site’s name is a play on the British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 objects—an online and traveling exhibition, podcast, and radio series launched in 2010 in partnership with the BBC. Users can search the highlighted Smithsonian collections by year/program, regions, materials, or type of artifact. A search for needlework brings up items from Mexico and South Africa and several items from the US. All pieces are beautifully illustrated, and each comes with a story.

Another integrated site, Routes to American Musical Treasures, celebrates music from the Folklife Festival. Four distinctive playlists of performing artists’ works have been compiled from the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label (Texas Mexican conjunto, Cajun fiddling, African American blues, and Appalachian ballads). Documenting past festivals, inReporting on the Past: What Twenty Years of Festival Press Reports Reveal is a still-incomplete blog component of the site (but perhaps the most interesting), providing materials such as program books, articles, photographs, and archival papers assembled and commented on by Smithsonian interns. Finally, Then and Now: The Festival in Photographs blog documents the rich and varied history over 25 years in digitized color slides held in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival website makes a fine start with this commemoration of its first 50 years and hopefully will continue to expand the resource. More than just a curiosity, it is an important source for understanding the nation’s rich cultural history, even more important in today’s conflicted world. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —N. J. Quinlan, Nova Southeastern University

Web Cultures Web Archive, from the Library of Congress.

[Visited Sep’17] This digital collection—launched in June 2017—is a project initiated by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to document emerging practices that provide insight into digital culture. As such, the curated archive focuses on websites that support development of vernacular and icon-based languages, representing the ethos of leet and lolspeak. One of the websites preserved here through screen captures over more than a decade is Urban Dictionary: Define Your World (CH, Sep’07, 45-0019), which offers perspective on the history of these terms. The archive also captures online communities that play a significant role in establishing themes and sites depicting DIY (do it yourself) videos, urban legends, and lore. The developers express confidence that the collection will, in time, offer rich information on the lives of people today. Amplifying the official website of the collection, a 2014 blog posting at explains the project as first conceived. A team of digital scholars appointed as recommending officers is responsible for selecting websites according to the project criteria, and also evaluates nominations from scholars and online enthusiasts.

Currently captured are 34 websites whose frequency of harvest depends on how often the contents change. The interface offers search functions and metadata including title, summary, contributor, publisher, subject headings, dates captured, and description. Users will find some redundancies and inconsistencies, however, with summary and description fields, for instance, containing identical information. Similarly, specifying both form (electronic) and online format (web page) as metadata seems redundant. Not all archived items have contributors, but their names are hyperlinked to the Web Culture Archives home page and within pertinent records as well. As the collection grows, its archival value will become more apparent. A companion site, Webcomics Web Archive, helps to round out the Library of Congress commitment to preserving the record of web publishing in the US. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. All levels. —A. Megwalu, San Jose State University