Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Web Review: 
The Internet History Sourcebook Project

Reviewed By Maria Gianakos
2003, Maria Giankos

 

he Internet History Sourcebook Project: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/

Unless you have access to an exceptional local library -- usually ones associated with colleges, and therefore hard for the average person to get into -- doing research on Ancient history can be difficult.  Ordering specific books from stores can be one answer, though it is both time consuming and a gamble.  After all, if you haven't seen the book, how can you be sure it's actually going to hold the material you need?

Nothing can compare to having a very good book on a subject that you need in depth information about, but what if your need is considerably less broad?

Searching the Internet has become a favorite way to fill in small gaps.  However, therein lays another problem.  The Internet not only overflows with information, it also overflows with misinformation.

A site like the Internet History Sourcebook Project can help allay some of those fears.  While there is doubtlessly some material in the project that might be questionable, the overall collection is excellent.  In the words of the founder:

The Internet History Sourcebooks are collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use.

... The Internet History Sourcebooks Project [IHSP] is a world wide web project designed to provide easy access to primary sources and other teaching materials in a non-commercial environment.  It was developed and is edited by Paul Halsall with the aid of numerous other contributors.

 

Unfortunately, the site seems to have been abandoned about two years ago, and now many of the links are out of date and dead.  This is troublesome, but there is still a considerable wealth of information to be found if you're willing to sift through the material. 

The sourcebooks are set up in three divisions:  Internet Ancient History Sourcebook, Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and the Internet Modern History Sourcebook.  There are also many subsidiary sourcebooks based on themes that include African history, Women's history, Global history and more.

Another breakdown of material is in the form of themes, and these include traveler's stories and legal histories.

Taking advantage of this site, a person can track down many bits of information about historical incidents, as well as getting a feel for a time and place. The site also offers school book-like listings.

It is easy to get lost in the joy of following the sites numerous links to various sources.  Unfortunately, like many such sites, a number of the links are now dead.  While that can prove annoying at times, it is still no worse than the average dead link or wasted time spent with an Alta Vista or Google search, and at least in this case a person is guaranteed to be heading toward something that really is related to the subject.