Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trial databases not to be missed!

Just in time for final research papers, and for the rest of this month, the library has trial access to some interesting databases you won't want to miss!

These databases from Readex Publishing include African American Newspapers, Hispanic American Newspapers, Pacific Northwest Historic Newspapers, The U.S. Congressional Serial Set, House and Senate Journals, Senate Executive Journals, FBIS Daily Reports, the Archive of Americana (including America's Historical Newspapers), Latin American Newspapers, African Papers, and American Broadsides and Ephemera. These databases are listed on our homepage on the left side under "Trial Databases."

These databases are a wonderful resource because they contain primary sources. You aren't getting someone else's scholarship from a hundred years later; you actually get to see the source material for yourself. Reading these old newspapers gives you an idea of how historical events actually affected the people of the day, and what people thought about them. The House and Senate Journals go all the way back to the very first session of Congress. If you're working on a paper for your American History or Government class, you can't get much closer to your subject than this. Did you know that in our nation's early years, any citizen could address Congress on any topic? You can read the reports and see not only what the elected officials discussed, but also what the common man thought was important. (Of course, as you can imagine, these addresses ranged from the intellectual to the crackpot. That's democracy for you)!

The broadsides and ephemera are what I personally find the most interesting. This is a collection of all sorts of documents which have survived over the years. (The "library rules" in this post came from the ephemera collection). There's something for students of practically any discipline. Marketing students might be interested in looking at advertisements from the nineteenth century, theater students at old playbills, religion students at sermons and hymns, education majors at report cards from 1840. There's humor; there are cartoons. There are military registers, menus, geneaologies, obituaries, campaign literature and memoirs. There's even erotica! (Before you get too scandalized--or excited--I must caution you that what titillated people in 1838 might not strike a 2009 audience in exactly the same way). If you have a term paper coming up and no idea what your topic is going to be, try browsing the ephemera for inspiration! Who knows, you may do your dissertation on Victorian erotica someday.

Again, these databases are only available to us for a limited time. So make use of them while you can, and if you enjoy them, please let us know!

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