Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost


Civil War Washington. Access: http://civilwardc.org.

Tom Sommer, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, thomas.sommer@unlv.edu

The Civil War Washington website was created to examine the many changes Washington, D.C., experienced between 1860 and 1865. Through a collection of text, datasets, images, interpretations, and interactive maps, this digital resource chronicles the war’s effects on the city by using the methods of several fields, including computer-aided mapping, geography, and history. The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln publishes and maintains the site. The National Endowment for the Humanities also provides funding and support.

The Civil War Washington site is easy to navigate. A researcher will find a large easy-to-use main menu on the homepage. The menu includes links to “Introductions,” “Data,” “Maps,” “Texts,” “Visual Works,” and “Interpretations.” The menu provides access to the rich collection of datasets, images, texts, and narrative accounts on the Civil War in Washington, D.C.

On the “Maps” page, an interactive mapping application combines historical maps with related historical information. This is particularly unique and helpful when researching digitized period maps of Washington, D.C. The maps contain information related to hospitals, government buildings, theaters, freedman’s villages, churches, railroads, forts, and census records. The interactive map uses a basemap by Albert Boschke entitled “Topographical Map of the District of Columbia,” which was created in 1857 and included the location of all the buildings in Washington, D.C. Users can take advantage of this GIS-based map by moving between current and historical views, as well as accessing a search feature widget at the bottom of the map. If users want to search for a particular feature or place, then they can just type in the desired name into the text box.

Another useful page on this site is the “Data” page. It includes a searchable relational database with thousands of records that identify people, places, events, organizations, and documents that relate to the Civil War in Washington, D.C. A researcher can browse this database by category or keyword.

The Civil War Washington site is an excellent resource for researchers who want to understand the “social, political, and medical/scientific transitions provoked or accelerated by the Civil War” on the nation’s capital city.

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Access: http://oceanleadership.org/.

Nicholas Schiller, Washington State University Vancouver, schiller@vancouver.wsu.edu

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is an alliance of more than 100 public and private institutions. This nonprofit provides “expertise in managing, coordinating, and facilitating scientific programs and partnerships; influencing sound ocean policy; and educating the next generation of ocean leaders.” The consortium provides a broad range of support to its members and the public. This support includes logistical assistance with oceangoing vessels and drilling platforms. The sections on the site most likely to appeal to libraries and its patrons include “Ocean Policy & Legislation,” “Scientific Programs,” and “News & Resources.”

“Ocean Policy & Legislation” provides a newsfeed for ocean policy effort that can serve as an excellent topic selection tool for undergraduate students. For example, current subjects include Arctic seismic testing and the endangered status of humpback whales. This section also provides a helpful primer on how policy is formed in the U.S. government and detailed information on appropriations for science and research in the U.S. federal budgeting process.

“Scientific Programs” includes the Census of Marine Life (CoML). CoML is a rich and comprehensive collection of data about the diversity of undersea life. Data from the census is available in a number of formats suitable for a broad range of scholars and students. Faculty and Oceanography students are provided with databases and clusters of articles that report on data from the census. Lower division students are provided with more general reference information and secondary reporting drawn from the census data.

“News & Resources” offers a feed of news sources (which this reviewer found less student-focused than the Policy and Legislation newsfeed.) It also contains a very helpful glossary of acronyms, which is a highly useful feature that other sites would do well to emulate.

Overall, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership site is a massive and diverse source of useful information for academic library users. It is so rich that librarians may find it more useful to break the site up into discrete subsites, such as the policy and legislation site and the Census of Marine Life, in order to direct users to the most immediately useful tool for their needs.

David Rumsey Map Collection. Access: http://www.davidrumsey.com/.

Jeremy Donald, Trinity University, jdonald@trinity.edu

The David Rumsey Map Collection has been earning praise and impressing visitors for 15 years with its outstanding collections, innovative technology, and open access ethos. Librarians, educators, scholars, and web technologists have watched the site grow in size and utility since an auspicious beginning in 2000, and it continues to be the premier online venue for discovering and experiencing historical maps.

With a background in fine art, David Rumsey brings a passion for visual culture to the project of creating this privately funded digital archive. Drawing from a print collection of over 150,000 maps, the site currently hosts more than 58,000 maps online.

The collection emphasizes the Americas during the last 500 years, but the world and its other regions are well represented, too. The online collection can be searched, viewed in high resolution in any of several state of the art online viewers, and—amazingly—images can be downloaded for personal use under a Creative Commons non-commercial license. A commitment to public access ensures that maps are chosen for digitization based on their interest to both the public and to specialists, putting the best of the print collection online for all to see and download.

Front and center on the homepage is a concise yet thorough narrative introduction to the site, linked to serve as a starting point for exploration. Users of the site are treated, within a click or two, to fully responsive, high-resolution images, each accompanied by descriptive metadata.

The site search is an effective way to search for maps via keyword, and results include facets in a side panel to narrow results by date and geography. Alternatively, the MapRank Search interface queries the collection with a visual search using an embedded version of Google Maps. The search results appear as thumbnails, and their extents are visible on the base map, making them easy to evaluate for geographical relevance. For detailed examination and analysis, the LUNA workspace allows the user to send selected maps to a new window, where they can be sized, zoomed, and juxtaposed at will.

The David Rumsey Map Collection is an exemplary digital resource, rich in both content and context. A blog highlights recent additions and notable maps—a good place to start for those new to this extraordinary collection.

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