American Women’s History: A Research Guide works as an online library catalogue to help researchers find relevant online and offline research materials. These include both primary and secondary materials related to American women’s history. The listings, organized by both subject and state, point users to bibliographies, journals, encyclopedias, microform collections, and primary sources. It also lists databases that will help researchers locate other collections, museums, and archives. Links to relevant blogs and online collections are provided on the homepage.
Type of Material:
The tool can most efficiently be used to help students with research papers or other writings assignments that involve primary and/or secondary research.
Users need Internet access to view the website.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The website helps students locate online and offline research materials that are relevant to the study of women in American history.
Target Student Population:
Advanced undergraduate students (juniors and seniors), graduate students, and researchers.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Preliminary skills in doing library research is required, as well as knowledge of the basic vocabulary related to primary and secondary research.
The extensive listings of primary and secondary sources will help students identify high-quality sources for research. The “subject index to research sources” breaks the references down into many useful categories like “abolitionists,” “education,” “temperance,” and “colonial America,” which will help students with specific prompts or topics. Content listed in the indexes are reliable and relevant, and cover a wide range of areas.
Although the website seems to be updated frequently and the sources listed are relevant, the bibliographies and historical overviews listed under the various subject heading may be somewhat outdated, frequently listing titles from the 1980s and 1990s but not beyond.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This resource provides undergraduates with useful links that would help them begin to understand what type of material goes into a research project.
The website implicitly demonstrates to researchers/students the different types of sources they should use. If the author wanted this guide to be more instructive they could explain why they list bibliographies and historical overviews before links to primary sources (i.e. explain the research process). The author could also add explanations of what a primary and secondary source is—-as it stands now, for classroom use, an instructor would need to provide some background information or an assignment.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This tool has a somewhat sober but clean and organized presentation. On the home page the links to different pages seem to be listed in order of usability, with the very clearly organized “subject index to research sources” listed first. For practical purposes the lists of sources and databases can be easily printed off or copied into other documents.
Many of the links do not work, which is extremely frustrating for a researcher trying to access material efficiently. The site is visually appealing but could definitely be improved by adding more images and demarcating the different types of links more dramatically (perhaps in boxes).
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