J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Delightful Digital Databases

I've often referred to online documents from the American Memory collection at the Library of Congress—our tax dollars at work for us! Here are a couple more commodious and useful online collections of documents from Revolutionary America, also mostly or partly supported by government grants.

Northern Illinois University is hosting a growing set of transcriptions from the American Archives assembled by Peter Force in the early 1800s. Force had a grand scheme—also supported by public money—to collect and print huge numbers of documents from every period of American history up to his own. He didn't finish, but his series on the Revolutionary period is immense, and immensely valuable. And now it's searchable by keywords.

The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, has one of the nation's finest collections of printed materials from pre-1876 America, and in the late twentieth century spearheaded efforts to create comprehensive archives of colonial and early republican newspapers and all other imprints on microfilm and microfiche. Now it's working with the Readex company to move that material into digital form with searchable text transcriptions. The cost of subscribing to the digital databases is immense—beyond an individual's reach. But I've found two ways to access the databases for a reasonable cost:

1 comment:

Larry Cebula said...

Some other notable digital primary source databases include the Making of America site and American Journeys:

Now does anyone know how a poor non-Bostonian soul may gain access to the entire Readex collection?