Although associated primarily with the Internet Modern History Sourcebook,
this Help! page is designed to be of use to any user of serious
online resources who is looking for more information.
What you can find help on here
Because of the large scale usage of the various Internet History
Sourcebooks, I do not have time to answer the
ten to twenty emailed requests for help I get each day. This page is designed to answer
most of your questions. I have done more than my bit in providing and making
information available. Now you need to look elsewhere.
I particularly apologize for this response to the various high school students [and
their parents] who contact me each day for help with homework. To those who ask me simply
to do their homework, let me say, 'Do it yourself!', but to those who want more general
help or guidance, again, I simply do not have the time. Still, if you follow the
guidelines below you will find something of use to you.
Bibliography and Web Sites
If I know of a web site it is already linked to from one of my pages.
For History in general see the suggestions below.
If I know of a useful or available online text, I link to it already.
There is no point in writing and asking me for a text if it is not here! [On the
other hand, if you want to scan and edit a text, then I do want to hear from you.]
If you are after books or bibliography suggestions, many libraries are
now on the Net. Try searching Melvyl - the University of California
Library system - probably the best place for bibliographic searches. It is available via
telnet at telnet://melvyl.ucop.edu [give your
terminal type as "VT100"] There is no general search engine for academic journal
articles, but through Melvyl you can link to CARL, which lists recent periodical
literature. See also:
Many people are interested in their family history, or supposed "royal",
"imperial" or "aristocratic" background. You have to do this research
by yourself, since, not surprisingly, few other people are interested in your family history. Good places to start are:
History discussion on the net
If you are engaged in a specific project, or have a particular topic you need to know
more about, it makes far more sense to ask many people rather than just one:- you may find
real experts, and you may find people who have time to give very specific answers. The
best way to do this is to join a history mailing list, or access the Usenet groups which
discuss such issues.
H-Net is by far the largest maintainer and provider of high-quality history
discussion lists. Go to the H-Net website to locate a group that covers areas of interest
Is the main Usenet disussion group for history, but the soc.culture.* hierarchy is also
useful. Frankly, much of Usenet is now a sewer of bad information and ideological
posturing, but if you want to see if a particular topic has been discussed try the Usenet
search engine at www.dejanews.com
You can do bibliographic research on the net better than in almost any given library.
But you cannot do real original research on the net - that
requires going to libraries. The information on the net is distinctly
"middle-brow" - translations, English versions, and selections, rather than
original texts, original languages, and complete collections. This may change in the
future, but only with extensive funding.
Remember: If all else fails, try asking a librarian!
About the Internet
Searching the Internet
The Web is vast and now that it contains more, and more diverse information,
than any single printed source. This availability of information will only increase and is
a truly splendid new tool to help in your research. To use the Web efficiently, the
various search engines are essential. It is important to form your query words as clearly
as possible. For instance, if you are interested in finding information on a particular
musician, do not search for "music", but for a style [eg "jazz" or
"gregorian chant"] or even a name ["abba", "charlie parker",
Here are links to the best "wide area" search engines on the Web.
Yahoo is best, I think, if you are looking for specialized websites. Altavista, Excite,
and Hotbot all index many more documents. These engines will always turn up more
references, but far more will be dross than with Yahoo. It is useful to start with Yahoo
since it has a nice feature - once it tells you everything that it has found, it will
automatically plug you in to the other search engines.
The best for web sites as opposed to specific documents.
The most flexible of the search engines - it lets you get 100 hits at a time.
AltaVista: Main Page
Competes with Hotbot to be the most comprehensive search engine on the web.
A sort of combination of Yahoo and Hotbot. It has its own list of commented on
websites, but also plugs into Altavista.
Some people love this search engine. I think it loads too much advertising onto
Lycos seems to have lost much of its early lead.
Allows you to search messages to usenet/netnews.
- Reference.COM Search
This lets you search the past postings of mailing lists [rather the usenet
newsgroups] Since a higher quality of discussion takes place on such lists, this can be
- Search for Lyrics
- Other Engines
The following are all online, and you might something useful there. I
- Encyclopedia.com from Electric Library
This lets you search for date in the online Columbia Encyclopedia.
Its great for checking dates, etc. It ties into to the pay-for-access Electric Library,
which can give your, for a fee, access to online articles from a wide variety of sources.
- Brewer's Dictionary of
Phrase and Fable 1894
Immediate access to many dictionary, language, geography tools and more.
A searchable compendium of all sorts of information.
- My Virtual Reference Desk - My Facts Page
A hierarchical guide to where to find information on the net.
- AltaVista: Translations
Provides an online translation service to/from English and
The WWW Virtual Library
A searchable and comprehensive co-operative annotated guide to the net by scholars
in each subject area.
- Writing/Research Guides
- Citation Guides
The Internet Modern History Sourcebook is part of the
Internet History Sourcebooks Project.