Web Library


Evans-TCP was a partnership among the Text Creation Partnership (TCP), NewsBank/Readex Co., and the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) that, between 2003 and 2009, created almost 5,000 accurately keyed and fully searchable SGML/XML text editions of early American printed books and pamphlets.

Missouri Digital Heritage

This Website serves as a clearinghouse of vast amounts of archival material and online exhibitions related to the history of Missouri, from the territorial period to the present. The result of an ongoing and collaborative effort among the state government, various state agencies, museums, libraries, and universities in Missouri, this ambitious site is the first stop for research on the history of the state.

The Quilt Index

This user-friendly searchable quilt database provides unprecedented access to more than 50,000 quilts held by a number of museums and many more private collections.  Interpretative essays and educational materials written by leading quilt curators and scholars accompany virtual museum exhibits. Read full review.

Food History on the Web

Food history on the Web has a long way to go, with many sites and blogs lacking sound research and citations, but those curious about the culinary past may find "The Food Timeline," a useful starting place. Although dated design and cumbersome navigation present minor drawbacks, it is one of the more comprehensive and scholarly sites available, with links to a historic menu collection, annotated bibliographies, and teaching resources. Read full review.

Nineteenth-Century Schoolbooks

Part of the University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library, "Nineteenth-Century School Books" offers an online archive containing page images and searchable text for 140 schoolbooks, easy-to-use search options, background readings, bibliographic guides, and a catalog of the larger "Nietz Old Texbook Collection" of sixteen thousand volumes. Read full review.

The National History Education Clearinghouse

The "National History Education Clearinghouse" (NHEC) Website provides a clear, user-friendly clearinghouse of links to some of the best online history education resources—not only history content and lesson plans but materials on historical thinking and research as well. Read full review.

American Shores: Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850
New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is one of the most distinguished research institutions in the world, and its renowned Map Room contributes to that reputation. American Shores is a searchable Website created by the library with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to bring a portion of its cartographic resources to your own reading room. The project itself seems designed to accomplish two objectives: to instruct visitors on the fundamentals and applications of cartographic scholarship and to let oriented users roam at will in search of early American spatial knowledge. Whether the site, in its current configuration, is recommendable over a straight Google search—under "Images" and with the keyword "maps" and their topic—may be a matter of some debate. Read full review.

Lincoln/Net: Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project

With an emphasis on Abraham Lincoln's years in Illinois, 1830-1861, and a wealth of material outside that period, "Lincoln/Net" is a multi-media, multi-purpose Website. Created and maintained at Northern Illinois University, "Lincoln/Net" represents a collaborative effort by several educational institutions, archives, and museums in the state. User-friendly navigation and easily downloadable and adaptable materials—including audio files, video clips, and primary source documents—make the site an attractive one for history buffs and educators interested in exploring its eight thematic sections: frontier settlement; Native American relations; economic development; women's experience and gender roles; African-Americans' experience and American racial attitudes; law and society; religion and culture; and political development. Read full review.

Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

For years, those wanting to examine historical artifacts closely had two options. They could travel to the appropriate museums and view the objects from a distance or study small pictures in exhibition catalogues. With its online visual database, this site presents an efficient and powerful alternative for exhibiting artifacts. Part of the University of Wisconsin's series of digital collections, the library provides a digitized record of seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Anglo-American ceramics, furniture, and prints. The quality of the images and the multiple views are particularly notable. The result is an accessible and engaging model for the online presentation of historical objects. Read full review.

The Massachusetts Historical Society

Since its founding in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) has been devoted to the collection and preservation of documents pertaining to American history. With vast manuscript holdings, the MHS is an important research center, as well as home to the Adams Papers project and a variety of other editorial and publication ventures. Its attractive and well designed Website, with numerous and impressive online exhibits, archives, and curricular resources, is a model for other historical societies and worth repeated visits. Read full review.

Virtual Jamestown

"Virtual Jamestown" offers visitors the opportunity to delve into the history of English exploration and colonizing efforts in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With the spotlight on Jamestown as the four hundredth anniversary of its settlement nears, sites such as this one can serve a useful function as online archives and sources of curriculum materials for teachers. Although the site is far from exhaustive in its coverage and has undergone limited development since its initial phase, it contains images, documents, searchable databases, virtual tours, and interactive maps that can be usefully mined. Read full review.

Virginia 400: Your Online Guide to 400 Years of Virginia History, 1607-2007

With the four hundredth anniversary of the founding of Jamestown rapidly approaching, commemorations of that event will gain new attention. A Website that functions as a clearing house for all matters Virginian, "Virginia 400" combines several resource sites: an annotated guide to Websites on Virginia history; "Teaching Virginia History," offering lesson plans and teaching strategies; and a "Featured Sites" section, which explores online projects featuring Virginia's history. Produced by the Center for History and New Media (see Common-place Web Library review, vol.6, no.4, July 2006) at George Mason University, the site is a first stop for anyone interested in exploring the legacy of 1607.

Silas Deane Online

"Silas Deane Online: The Mysterious Life and Death of an American Revolutionary," is a biographical site, designed to "offer thematic curricula" for high school students, based on the life of one of Connecticut's "lost heroes" of the Revolution. Produced by the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, the website features lesson plans with transcribed documents and images; a virtual house tour; a bibliographic section featuring books, manuscripts, and recommended websites; and a timeline that features four simultaneous chronologies: of Deane, John Adams, George Washington, and "Colonial Times."

Doing History: Martha Ballard’s Diary Online

The combination of primary sources, interactive exercises, and scholarly background materials makes this site it a valuable one. Based on sources pertaining to the life of Martha Ballard, a late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century midwife who was the subject of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife's Tale and Laurie Kahn-Leavitt’s film for PBS’s American Experience, the "Do History" Website explores in part how Ulrich and Kahn-Leavitt developed their interpretations, and it incorporates material from both the book and the film.

France in America–La France en Amérique
Library of Congress and Bibliothèque nationale de France

The result of a joint venture between the Library of Congress and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, this fully bilingual digital project documents the role of France in American history from the colonial era through the nineteenth century. The site features a range of documents, including travel narratives, missionaries’ accounts, maps, and prints, as well as a host of other related links and Web-based resources. Read full review.

Africans in America
PBS Online

Created to accompany the PBS series Africans in America, this Website follows the chronological organization of the televised version and features primary sources, including images and interactive maps; historians’ discussions of slavery and abolition; and teachers’ resources. The site’s internal links allow readers to follow the narrative easily.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

This Website blends historical materials, teachers’ resources, and commercial outreach. The production standards are high, with visually pleasing interactive materials, flash-driven presentations, and audio files, from interviews to fife music. Perhaps of most interest is the "Explore and Learn" section, which reveals several links, including multimedia features, such as slide shows, video clips, and re-enacted speeches. Teachers can sign up for the free, monthly e-newsletter, the Teacher Gazette (September-June).

National Archives and Records Administration

Since its creation in 1934, the National Archives and Records Administration has been dedicated to the preservation of federal government records and documents. Online exhibits, facsimile and transcribed documents, and research tools for NARA’s vast holdings make this site an important one. An impressive "Educators and Students" feature includes well-developed lessons, arranged chronologically, and useful primary-source analysis templates (

American Memory: Historical collections for the National Digital Library
Library of Congress, American Memory

One of the most important archives of American history online, the American Memory project of the Library of Congress covers several centuries and includes immense quantities of material, with over one hundred major collections and nine million individual items related to the history of America. Read full review.

Colonial Connecticut Records, 1636-1776
University of Connecticut Libraries

Connecticut's colonial public records, published in the late nineteenth century, are available here in chronological order by volume, with page and volume/date search functions. For individual volumes, there are alphabetical searching indexes arranged according to name and subject terms. Under "S" for the October 1706-October 1716 volume, for example, the viewer finds four entries for the Sabbath, including an act related to restraining young people from meeting on Sabbath evenings and at other unseasonable times.

The Geography of Slavery
Virginia Center for Digital History and University of Virginia, Wise

With over 4000 advertisements culled from Maryland and Virginia newspapers from 1736-1795, this site offers several user-friendly tools that allow viewers to explore the experiences of runaway slaves and indentured servants. Read full review.

The Common-place Web Library reviews and lists online resources and Websites likely to be of interest to our viewers. Each quarterly issue will feature one or more brief site reviews. The library itself will be an ongoing enterprise with regular new additions and amendments. So we encourage you to check it frequently. At the moment, the library is small, but with your help we expect it to grow rapidly. If you have suggestions for the Web Library, or for site reviews, please forward them to the Administrative Editor.