Freshman Seminar Fall 2008

How to Use the Internet for Historical Research


Class exercises

1. Reliability Issues

Class Exercise: Trace the source of this quotation using Holding the left side of the mouse down, highlight a sentence or two from the quotation below. Then hold down the control and C keys at the same time. You have now copied the text. Paste it into the google box by clicking in the box, then hold down the control and V keys at the same time. The text should appear. Be sure to put quotations marks around the text in teh google box. Why is this important?


“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.

And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”


2. Plagiarism

Class Exercise: Please go to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Go to the "Historical Arthur" page of this site
Read the text, and then type the following excerpt from it into the search box:

“One of the questions that has occupied those interested in King Arthur is whether or not he is a historical figure.”

On how many sites do you find this quotation?
Try some other sentences from this page and see what happens. Who is the author of each page you find and what are their credentials? Which site would be the original source of this quotation or any of the other quotations that you searched?

3. Dot Coms

Class exercise: Go to Celtic Twilight:

What is the purpose of the site? What is its context? How credibile is it? How credible are the author’s credentials?


4. Translation Issues

Celtic Twilight

Internet Medieval Sourcebook


5. Other Collections of Primary Sources Online

Bible Gateway


Online Castato of 1427 from Florence

Online Tratte of Office Holders 1282-1532


6. Archaeological Sites

Pilgrimage to Abydos


7. Maps

Odden's Bookmarks

Perry-Castañeda Map Collection at the University of Texas

8. Genealogies

Royal Genealogies

9. Multimedia collections

The Valley of the Shadow
Exercise: Search war years collection and look for soldiers’ records with surname “Vess”
Exercise: Search eve of war years collection, and go to census and tax records. Search for surname “Caldwell” under agricultural census records. Now, try to figure out how many slaves he had.
Did he pay taxes to Augusta?

Other sites:

Library of Congress American Memory

Presidential Libraries

Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation

Cyber Library of the Holocaust

Center for History and New Media (George Mason University)