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HIST: History: Websites

Evaluating Websites

Remember, not everything found on the Internet is reliable. Anyone can put anything up on the Web. When you find information that you might consider using on a college paper or project, be sure to answer these questions to determine if the information is trustworthy:

1) AUTHORITY

  • Who published this web site?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Does the author indicate his/her position or educational background?
  • Is the author a researcher in the field, a popular writer who has interest in the subject, or a total unknown who is stating his/her opinion on an issue about which he/she may not be knowledgeable?
  • Is there information about contacting the author? (E-mail address, phone number, etc.)
  • Is the author a respected corporation or government agency?
  • Does the author indicate the method of research used or provide any supportive evidence?
  • Check the "top level domain" in the URL (web site address). Examples:
    • .com=commercial
    • .mil=military
    • .edu=educational
    • .net=network
    • .gov=government
    • .org=organization (non-profit)

2) ACCURACY

  • Has the site been edited, verified or peer-reviewed by others?
  • Is it well-written and free of errors?
  • Are correct grammar and spelling used?
  • Are the author's sources cited?
  • Are statistics or data current?

3) OBJECTIVITY

  • Does the author's affiliation or the sponsors of the web site influence the opinions or views presented?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Is there a cultural or religious bias?
  • Are there advertisements?
  • Is the author trying to manipulate your thinking with this information?

4) CURRENCY

  • Is the information up-to-date?
  • When was the site produced?
  • How often is the site updated? Are the updates stated?
  • Do the links work?

5) COVERAGE

  • Are all aspects of the subject covered?
  • What level of detail is provided?
  • Is the information limited to certain time periods?
  • What types of materials are covered?
  • To what audience is the material aimed? (Scholars, general readers, children, etc.)

Finding Better Websites - Decoding URLs

Check the "domain name extension" (end) of the URL (website address).

Examples:

  • .com=commercial
  • .mil=military
  • .edu=educational
  • .net=network
  • .gov=government
  • .org=organization

.gov, .edu, and .org websites tend to have more credible information than other types and often belong to government or regulatory agencies, professional associations or organizations, and universities, colleges, or research institutions. They will likely be the best to use for academic research.

Suggested Websites

Starting Points

Best of History Websites

  • A portal created for history teachers, students, and general history enthusiasts, containing annotated links to over 1,000 history Web sites.

HistoryWorld - History & Timelines

  • Consists of over 300 separate narrative histories and more than 10,000 events throughout history.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project

  • A collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented for educational use, maintained by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. The source consists of three primary Internet History Sourcebooks (Internet Ancient History Sourcebook, Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and Internet Modern History Sourcebook) and nine Subsidiary Sourcebooks.

World History: Ancient

De Imperatoribus Romanis

  • An online encyclopedia on the rulers of the Roman Empire from Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) to Constantine XI Palaeologus (1449-1453).

World History: Medieval & Renaissance 

Byzantium: The Byzantine Studies Page

Labyrinth Home Page

  • Resources for medieval studies, sponsored by Georgetown University.

World History: 20th & 21st Centuries 

The Great War: 80 Years On

  • This site from the BBC commemorates the war and present a number of interesting resources, including a ten-minute video collage of photos, newsreel footage produced by the Imperial War Museum and a selection of audio interviews of veterans. The site also contains a selection of soldiers' letters home, overviews of four major battles, and a number of topical articles.

World War II Resources

  • Primary documents, including the Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, speeches of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and British, French, and German documents. Maintained by the Pearl Harbor Working Group.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook

  • The Internet Modern History Sourcebook is one of several sourcebooks by Paul Halsall. It is written for teachers and students in college survey courses in modern European history and American history, as well as in modern Western Civilization and World Cultures.

Library of Congress Digitized U.S. Early Presidential Collections

  • The Library of Congress has completed a more than two decade-long initiative to digitize the papers of nearly two dozen early presidents. The Library holds the papers of 23 presidents from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge, all of which have been digitized and are now available online.