Historic Events of the 20th Century [DRAFT]
Historic Events of the 20th Century (available from http://www.gem.greenwood.com) Greenwood Electronic Media. Pricing dependent on institution size and type of institution, $675-$1845.
The database is divided into six sections: Civil Rights Movement, Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, Islamic Fundamentalism, World War I and World War II. Subscriptions for one or all of the sections are available.
There is no way to search the entire Historic Events site, only individual sections. Each section opens with a preface, a narrative overview, a timeline of events (chronology) as well as topic links that, when clicked upon, displays additional links to documents on the topic, and an annotated bibliography. Information can be printed; a hotlink reformats documents for printing. The documents links appears on the left bar after clicking the topic. Documents for each topic are under ten and could be assembled from free websites, since most are famous documents or, in the case of civil rights and Islam, from contemporary sources. Getting out of the modules proved difficult, and I got lost on a few occasions. The Home link at the top of the page takes you to the Greenwood homepage not the Historic Events main page.
The timeline hotlinks open small browser windows with, what I assume, is supposed to be supplemental information. Hotlink results are uneven, at least in the timeline. In the civil rights section, the hotlink conviction of the murderer of Medgar Evers in 1994, takes one to the NewsDesk website of the University of Mississippi, where there was no additional information provided. The 1995 Supreme Court decision in Adarand Constructors v. Pena link takes you to the summary of the case at the FindLaw website, a database in the public domain. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots link opens a browser to the free NPR website for the 30th anniversary of All Things Considered, where a quote from a riot eyewitness is quoted with a link to hear the broadcast. Images for many of the links, such as (in the communism section) the 1921-1928 link for the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy, Nicholas II and (in the Holocaust section) Paul von Hindenburg, opens a browser to LearnThings, a website for school newsletters in the United Kingdom that houses a small image of the event or person; no other additional information is provided. The timeline for Islamic fundamentalism lacks hotlinks of any kind.
Besides the Old Miss, FindLaw and NPR websites, many other links go to public websites as well. Lenin’s biography link takes you to the Lenin Internet Archive (http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/) while Brezhnev’s link takes you to CNN’s Knowledge Bank profile (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/brezhnev/). Many of the maps link directly to the CIA World Factbook website (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/). The link for Nagorno-Karabakh brings up the website of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (http://www.prio.no/html/fig-p170.htm), which has free articles in pdf files on troubled places throughout the world.
The lesson plans for each section correlate to the National Center for History in the Schools, and there are quotes from the National History Standards. The standards are available online (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards/) from UCLA. The lesson plans tie directly into the information housed in Historic Events. Greenwood’s information page lists prices not only for school libraries but also for public libraries as well as colleges and universities. Historic Events is geared towards school teachers.
Internet browsers can yield a plethora of reliable information. A Google advanced search on the phrase “Nicholas II” and the terms “Russian Revolution” with the restriction to educational institutions (.edu) yielded as the first hit the Internet Modern History Sourcebook (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook39.html) from Fordham University. A Yahoo advanced search using the same search terms yielded Bucknell University’s Russian History site (http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/history.html) as the third hit. These sites contain links to dynasty charts, original documents, chronologies and other goodies that can easily be used in teaching. Some of these links don’t work, but these sites aren’t paid databases, either.
Greenwood repackaged information readily available for free to anyone with Internet browsing capabilities. This is a perfect example of why teaching students and teachers searching strategies for the Internet are so important. This site is for the research-challenged. A good librarian or subject guide would be just as good if not better. Better yet, a resourceful and dedicated teacher—doing the research—can take the opportunity to teach Internet research and evaluation skills while teaching these subjects; it’s never too early to begin learning to evaluate information.
The University of California Riverside’s Infomine (http://infomine.ucr.edu) and the Best of History Web Sites (http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.shtml) are two more examples of free databases that will yield comparable results to Greenwood’s offering.
REVIEWED BY: Michael W. Handis