rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 250
Best Historical Materials 2012
RUSA/CODES History Section Historical Materials Committee

RUSA/CODES History Section Historical Materials Committee contributing members: Karen Cook, Laura Hibbler, Jennifer Hootman, David Lincove, Jerilyn Marshall, Jacob Sherman, Matthew Wayman, Mary Wilke, and Nicholas Wyant, editor and chair

Each year, the RUSA/CODES History Section Historical Materials Committee selects an assortment of resources that reflect the best resources for historical research. The 2012 list follows.—Editor


AIDS Posters. UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

The UCLA AIDS poster collection is a standout among digitized resources. Created by the UCLA Digital Library Program this collection includes thousands of AIDS posters from around the world. The ease of searching this collection is as wonderful as the content. Users can browse posters by county, subjects, creators, or titles, which makes viewing this collection easy and enjoyable.—Nicholas Wyant, Wichita State University Libraries

Alcohol, Temperance and Prohibition. Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

Alcohol, Temperance and Prohibition is a searchable database of 1,575 digitized pamphlets, broadsides, sheet music, and government publications from the collections of Brown University Library. Known publication dates range from 1808 to 1999 although most were published before 1934. Words, names, and places are searched in the metadata for each item, not in the document texts. This database can be used to explore ideas and campaigns contributing to the passage of the 18th amendment to the US Constitution in 1920 and its repeal in 1933 with the 21st amendment.—David Lincove, Ohio State University Libraries

Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South. Duke University Libraries. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

Behind the Veil is a public history project documenting the era of Jim Crow in the American South. The interviews represent 175 hours of recordings as well as transcriptions for easy reading. The recordings are available on the Duke University Libraries website, as well as being available for download from iTunes. The collection is easy to browse and allows users to quickly find relevant information, such as geographic location and occupations of the interviewee. Behind the Veil is a wonderful primary resource with a pleasing interface.—Nicholas Wyant, Wichita State University Libraries

California Odyssey: Dust Bowl Migration Archives. Walkter W. Stiern Library, California State University, Bakersfield. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

Cal State-Bakersfield digitized the audio and the transcripts of oral history interviews of dozens of Dust Bowl migrants. These interviews were conducted in the early 1980s. This collection also has digitized photography that documents camps, working conditions, and union activity. There is also a substantial bibliography where researcher can further expand on the topic. This collection offers perspective on this harrowing time in the United States.—Jacob J. Sherman, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Encyclopedia of Chicago History. Chicago History Museum, The Newberry Library, and Northwestern University. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

The electronic version of the Encyclopedia of Chicago History is a beautifully crafted research tool. It goes beyond the print version by allowing users the ability to see primary source materials that the articles refer to. It also provides links to historic maps. The browsing and indexing features are very functional. Users interested in urban history and the development of the Midwest should use this excellent database.—Jacob J. Sherman, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark. Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Virginia Center for Digital History and the Geospatial and Statistical Data Center, both at the University of Virginia. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

This digital archive contains a variety of sources that document leading American’s thoughts about the west and westward expansion during the Early Republic. Initially created by a class at the University of Virginia, the site includes a variety of different methods to understand the impetus for both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis Clark Expedition. In addition to making sources such as letters, journal entries, maps, and treaties available, Envisaging includes tools for textual analysis, interactive maps, and the ability to retrieve sources by names, locations, and native groups.—Sara E. Morris, University of Kansas

FRASER Federal Reserve Archive / Discover Economic History. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis publishes the FRASER website through digitized historic policy documents and data. Intended to serve a wide audience the site is clean, simple, and easy to navigate, yet contains a vast wealth of economic data and policy documents from the late 1700s to the most recent issues of periodicals. There are excellent advanced search and browse options, including browsing by collections, titles, authors, or timeline.—Karen Cook, State Library of Louisiana

Moving Image Research Collections. University of South Carolina, University Libraries. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) of the University of South Carolina, University Libraries is a remarkable effort in film preservation. Begun in 1979 with the donation of Twentieth Century-Fox’s entire Movietone News Library, MIRC’s ongoing preservation efforts are supported by university allocations, licensing revenue, grants, and donations. Accessing the collections can be done several ways including viewing the digitized films online through the continually growing Digital Video Repository (DVR). Users can browse all collections or search through several metadata fields.—Jennifer Hootman, Minitex, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Minneapolis

Nevada Test Site Oral History Project. University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

The Nevada Test Site was home to over one thousand detonations during the Cold War. Recipient of two awards, this digital archive includes documents, images, and media associated with the site’s history. The website has three primary categories for navigation: Chronologies of Development (timeline), Communities of Voices (interviews), and Contested Landscapes (land use issues). Nuclear testing is a hot topic. While other websites cover similar material, the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project is the only one with oral history content, not to mention the most thorough information about this particular site.—Matthew J. Wayman, Penn State Schuylkill

Palace of the Governors Digital Collections. The New Mexico Historical Society. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

Images documenting life in the Southwest dating from 1850 to the present make up the majority of this collection of over 800,000 pieces. Photographs in the collection, many by famous photographers, document not only life in New Mexico, but also westward expansion and the cultures of Hispanic and Native Americans. The collection also includes maps and non-photographic images. Additionally, although not confined to the region, this site provides access to the Pinhole Photography Collection, the largest collection of images of this kind.—Sara E. Morris, University of Kansas

Portal to Texas History. University of North Texas. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

The University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History is an excellent resource for those students and researchers who want to gather primary source materials about Texas and the Southwest. Libraries, historical societies, and museums across Texas continuously submit materials for digitization. Some highlights include collections pertaining to Texas in television, patents, collegiate yearbooks, and oral histories. The interface is easy to use and allows search results to be narrowed down without difficulty.—Jacob J. Sherman, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Senator Joe McCarthy: Audio Excerpts, 1950-1954. Marquette University: Raynor Memorial Libraries. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

Words are powerful, however part of their power is in their delivery. With this small collection of thirty-five audio files, listeners can actually hear how Senator McCarthy sounded during the five year period from 1950–54 when he waged his war against communists and communist sympathizers in the United States. It is a must hear for anyone studying the period, the man, or the subject.—Mary Wilke, Center for Research Libraries

Visualizing Emancipation. University of Richmond. Reviewed Oct. 30, 2012.

The University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab has produced an immensely valuable resource titled Visualizing Emancipation. Using primary source materials documenting the process of emancipation, Visualizing Emancipation maps the progression of emancipation nationwide during and after the Civil War. Users can explore the interactive map, reading about specific events while also examining larger patterns. In addition to the interactive map, Visualizing Emancipation offers lesson plans and resources for teachers using the site in the classroom.—Laura Hibbler, College of the Holy Cross

WPA Art Inventory. Connecticut State Library. Reviewed October 30, 2012.

The WPA Art Inventory project began in 2008 with an appropriation from the Connecticut state legislature to compile an art inventory of works created by Connecticut artists. Content of the inventory is arranged by artist. It is easy to bring up the entire list of names through tabs and links. The site can be searched for author names or words that appear in the biographies. Overall the Inventory is very useful for finding information about little-known WPA artists of Connecticut. This project supplements that approach with biographies and an easy-to-use website. Recommended for anybody interested in WPA art and artists.—Jerilyn Marshall, University of Northern Iowa

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