Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost


The Center for Jewish History. Access: http://www.cjh.org.

Karen Evans, Indiana State University, Karen.Evans@indstate.edu

The Center for Jewish History (CJH) is “a cultural institution, independent research facility and destination for the exploration of Jewish history and heritage.” Five prestigious institutions make up the center—American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research—providing access to collections with more than 500,000 volumes and 100 million documents in 23 languages and 52 alphabet systems. This grouping creates the biggest repository of modern Jewish experiences outside of Israel.

The site is well designed and user friendly, inviting patrons to discover the center, search the collections, or trace their roots in three areas on the homepage. Discover CJH provides information on the Jewish center, exhibitions (“The Kaiser’s Call to Arms” or “Echoes of Jewish Morocco: A Photographic Exhibit”), and events. Searching “The Collections” allows one to explore the five institutions, the Lillian Goldman Reading Room (contains the research collections of the five institutions), and use tools to search the library, archive, and museum holdings. “Trace Your Roots” provides several family history collections (Hebrew Orphan Asylum, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), reference, research guides, and an FAQ. A link to the Ackman & Ziff family genealogy provides additional information on genealogy, including beginner and advanced searching guides for genealogical researchers. Many research tools are available for users, including wide-ranging microfilm collections and databases, some exclusive to the center.

CJH publications such as Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War and newsletters from 1996 to the present are available for viewing. One can view the CJH blog, 16th Street, and subscribe to a newsletter on exhibitions, events, and center news. The Center Digital Collections offers an assortment of rare books, personal letters and memoirs, scrapbooks, oral histories, and much more.

The website also highlights additional areas of CJH, including “The Collection Management and Conservation Wing,” where visitors can watch and learn as archivists and preservation professionals preserve items for future use. “The David Berg Rare Book Room” has exhibits and collections highlighting first editions, illuminated manuscripts, and centuries-old letters.

If you cannot visit the CJH, fix a cup of tea, plate a few rugelach, and settle in for a wonderful experience browsing the Center for Jewish History.

The Earthquake Hazards Program. Access: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/.

Eli Gandour-Rood, University of Puget Sound, egandourrood@pugetsound.edu

The Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP) is a program of the United States Geological Survey and part of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), a multi-agency initiative established by Congress through the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977. The goal of NEHRP is to reduce the risk of damage to humans or property due to seismic activity. EHP monitors earthquake activity and maintains records for interested parties and the general public.

The exceedingly useful EHP website provides a huge amount of information on earthquake activity, including data, maps, safety tips, educational resources, research publications, and more. The most immediately engaging part of the EHP site is the real-time reporting of earthquakes from around the world through a comprehensive and authoritative list. This real-time data is the heart of the site, which allows users to browse both archival and constantly updating information on earthquake activity, with an emphasis on activity within the United States. One of the most appealing features is the interactive map display. Its highly customizable interface allows for easy, precise browsing for recent earthquake data. EHP adds new earthquakes to its site typically within 30 minutes of an occurrence. There are a variety of real-time notification options available to users, such as a free service that will send customizable email or text message alerts.

Navigation of the EHP site is clear and intuitive, with a persistent global navigation bar that allows quick access to the six main areas of the site. The emphasis on real-time data means that most sections of the site are consistently up-to-date. Older information is labeled as such: a page on the earthquake history of Washington State noted that the information had been adapted from a 1978 publication, and directed users to search the Earthquake Archives for newer information.

Users may search the “Earthquake Archives” by many fields, including date, time, geographic region, and earthquake magnitude, among others. This comprehensive advanced search page is the only one available, so the number of fields may be somewhat overwhelming.

Although the quantity and complexity of information available through this site may prove intimidating to novice users, there is sufficient easily accessible information of all types to make this site a valuable resource for users of all levels.

Virginia Memory. Access: http://www.virginiamemory.com/.

Gene Hyde, University of North Carolina-Asheville, ghyde@unca.edu

The Virginia Memory website is an online gateway to digitized collections and materials from the Library of Virginia (LVA) and the Virginia State Archives. LVA, created in 1823 by the Virginia General Assembly, is the official library of the Commonwealth of Virginia and repository for the commonwealth’s official records, as well as extensive collections of materials about Virginia.

The homepage of Virginia Memory is well organized and provides easy access to the website’s main categories. A menu bar along the top includes links to “Digital Collections,” “Reading Room,” “Exhibitions,” and “Online Classroom;” clicking on each displays a drop-down menu with options. For instance, the drop-down menu for “Digital Collections” gives options to view “What’s New,” “Featured Collection,” “Collections A to Z,” “Collections by topic,” “Virginia Newspapers,” “Online photo collections,” and “Archival web collections.”

The homepage features three blogs that highlight three sections of LVA: “Fit to Print” showcases material from the Virginia Newspaper Project, “Multiple Exposure” features selections from photograph collections, and “Out of the Box” discusses interesting material from the Archives.

Content drives this site, with thousands of photographs, documents, maps, and ephemera populating these digital collections. Some of the topics covered include the gubernatorial papers of Thomas Jefferson, Colonial Virginia records, African American history, the Civil War, historical and recent Virginia government and journalism, and a range of other topics.

There are also dozens of exhibitions, and while some are merely notices of physical exhibits at the library, others contain online content. For instance, the “Maps, Charts & Atlases” exhibition features dozens of historic maps, while the “No Vacancy: Remnants of Virginia’s Roadside Culture” links to a sample of vintage motel postcards on a Pinterest page.

Social media links are prominently displayed on the main website, including Facebook, Twitter, a YouTube site, a collection on Flickr, plus LVA sites on HistoryPin, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest.

There’s a lot to sift through and pour over on this well-designed, easy-to-navigate site. While focusing on Virginia, much of the content has relevance for researchers and students outside of the Commonwealth.

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