I found another research resource to share with you. EyeWitness to History is a website produced by Ibis Communications, Inc., a publisher of educational websites, CDs, and training programs.
To tell stories from history, this website uses primary sources, which include anything that was written or created during the time of the story. Each article includes an introduction to the particular topic, and then the first person account of that event. Sometimes the primary source requires further explanation or clarification, which is interspersed with the original account.
Each article ends with a References section stating which sources were used. One small issue I have with the website is that I didn’t see an author’s name for the introduction on any of the articles I read. However, the primary source content is the main focus of the articles, and those authors are listed.
For easy browsing, the website divides the articles into the time periods Ancient World, Middle Ages/Renaissance, 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, Civil War, Old West, 20th Century, World War I, and World War II. I like that in each section there are a variety of topics, with everything from war to disease to social customs. The primary sources are from participants and observers and most are about the United States and Europe. The best thing is that not all of the entries are about famous people or events, but about ordinary people.
As with all primary sources, be aware that most people are not completely objective. For example, if Mary and Susie had an argument and each wrote a journal entry about that event, those entries would each have their own personal slant. If Mary’s journal survives and Susie’s doesn’t, at some point in the future Mary’s account is the only one that exists. So be aware of the possibility of normal human bias when using primary sources for your research.
Along with the written accounts, there are also the sections Photo of the Week and SnapShots. Rather than just a simple caption, most of the photos have longer descriptions giving background information to the event or time period represented
The Voices tab has audio clips from 1899 to 1945. You can hear Tokyo Rose broadcast to the American troops in 1944 or hear Charles Lindbergh in 1927 talking about his historic flight. They also have film clips in the History in Motion section. The film clips are from 1903 through World War II and also include a description.
Finally, there is an Index. This lists all the available stories, photos and film clips by date. It’s not an alphabetical subject index, but it has links on this one page to everything available on the site. This means you don’t have to go to the pages for each of the time periods if you are looking for something specific. The Index doesn’t include the short descriptions that are attached to each entry on the time period pages, but it’s nice to have the option to browse whichever way works best for you.
My first instinct was to list examples of the available articles to pique your interest enough that you would hurry over to check out the site. But I don’t want anyone to look at the examples that would interest me and decide they’re not interested in looking any further. These are not long entries, so it’s easy to bookmark the page and read an article or look at some photos without needing to set aside a big block of time.
If you are a student or a writer, this is a great place to find ideas for research or stories. You may also find primary sources you didn’t know about that fit with what you’re already writing. Another bonus with primary source material is seeing how language was used and how it has changed through the centuries to become what it is now. So there are lots of reasons to check out this website. Have fun!