Friday, March 20, 2009

Exciting new database: American History in Video

The biggest question I have about our newest database is "How much time can I reasonably spend on this site and call it 'work-related research'?"

American History in Video, one of the newest databases from Alexander Street Press, may have a deleterious effect on library productivity, but is certainly a boon for history buffs. When the database is complete, it will have 2,000 hours and more than 5,000 titles. The collection is an exclusive collaboration with A&E television networks and features the most important documentaries and series from The History Channel, A&E and Biography. There are also public affairs video of interviews and debates, archival footage of events,and vintage newsreels. Yesterday I watched WWII-era newsreels, and today I've been watching a documentary about Arlington Cemetery. All in the line of duty, folks, no need to thank me!

Wouldn't it be interesting to compare and contrast contemporary coverage of historical events with the perspective offered by later documentaries? And which would be more valid?

The videos are searchable by historical era and event, people, place, subject and type of film. The videos run side by side with a transcript. That would certainly aid in accurate quotation! While several of the programs are quite long, there is a feature that allows you to create custom clips of the portions you want. That could be very useful for a professor who wants to show something to her class or a student who is putting together a presentation!

Oh well. Back to work. I think I'll watch a documentary on the lost colony of Roanoke. Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone!

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