Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost


Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. Access: http://http://dredf.org.

Barbara Valentine, Linfield College, bvalen@linfield.edu

Disabilities Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) has advocated for the advancement of civil and human rights of people with disabilities through its national civil rights and policy center in Berkeley, California, since 1979. Directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities, the center’s activities include legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development. The DREDF website contains a wide range of materials and information, providing insights and connections to both current concerns and the historical contexts.

A blog format features personal stories, news, announcements, Special EDition (special education news), and a section for active tweets. Toolbar access guides visitors to content about “Legal Advocacy,” “Public Policy,” “Healthcare Access,” and “Special Education,” where each section also includes related research and resources. Many of the directors and attorneys have worked with DREDF for decades, undoubtedly bringing a consistency and continuity to the enterprise. A handy timeline highlights DREDF’s activities and impact on disabilities rights over the years.

The “Legal Advocacy” section includes the disposition of current disabilities rights cases, related federal and international laws, and a list of amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs submitted to support other cases that might have implications for disabilities rights. “Healthcare Access” collates the Affordable Care Act, maintaining health, and other related resources. “Special Education” contains resources for children (K–12, Babies and Toddlers, Foster Youth), including those across the states. “Public Policy” includes position statements and research on transportation access, assisted suicide, and other legislation.

Practical training presentations (in Power-Point, video, and/or text), as well as personal stories shared throughout the site, educate those both with and without disabilities. DREDF’s at times controversial perspectives illuminate important issues and provide food for thought.

The site’s interface and navigation could use a facelift. The search engine seems quite rudimentary for exploration. Some of the pages take a while to load or need instant refreshing to work. And the opportunities to donate dominate and clutter each page, distracting from the overall experience. Nevertheless, researchers looking for information on disabilities rights, history, key players, advocacy, laws, current issues, and resources will find a good assortment of academic, as well as social, content. And the unique perspective and focus of the site is well worth the visit.

Great Lakes Information Network. Access: http://www.great-lakes.net/.

Emily Hamstra, emilyhamstra@gmail.com

For more than two decades the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) website has provided curated information about the Great Lakes. GLIN is managed by the Great Lakes Commission, “a nonpartisan, eight-state compact agency based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.” The GLIN’s award-winning website is a hub of information about the Great Lakes region.

Though the design of the website has not been updated since 2000, the information on the website is updated daily. The website’s navigation bar allows users to quickly locate information under the headings “Great Lakes,” “Environment,” “Economy,” “Education,” “Maps and GIS,” and “Tourism.” The “Great Lakes” webpage provides an overview, including: maps of the Great Lakes region, aggregated news about the Great Lakes from local news sources, and links to organizations and research related to the Great Lakes. This page provides resources for issues related to policies by states and provinces, including current issues, legislative tracking, lake conditions, and more. The “Environment,” “Economy,” and “Tourism” webpages each include aggregated news about that particular topic and the Great Lakes, an overview, and recommended websites. These pages also include lists of popular topics such as water quality, business development, recreation, and maps of the popular “Circle Tour” of scenic roads around the Great Lakes.

The “Education” and “Maps and GIS” sections link to additional websites and resources. The “Education” website includes a plethora of resources for teaching K–12 students about the Great Lakes region. Textbook-like tutorials introduce students to the five Great Lakes, environmental issues, geography, history, and culture. Updated irregularly, the “Maps and GIS” website includes maps of the lakes, including complex interactive maps and data, maps of invasive species and control measures, and petroleum and crude oil pipelines in the region.

For users bewildered by the amount of information, including a heavy dose of duplicated information, the GLIN website provides a simple search. Searching for “Muskegon” quickly returns search results for news, events, tourism, and research about the town.

GLIN is a wonderful guide for information about the Great Lakes region. By providing current information, the GLIN website encourages learning about and enjoying the beauty, culture, and economy of the Great Lakes.

Lincoln/Net. Access: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/.

Ford Schmidt, Willamette University, fschmidt@willamette.edu

Interest in Abraham Lincoln has never flagged, but with 2015 being the sesquicentennial of both the end of the Civil War and his assassination, much has continued to be published in print and online. This site focuses on the pre-presidential years of Lincoln’s life in Illinois, from 1830 to 1861—a period of time often ignored. It also includes documentation covering Illinois statehood, from its beginning in 1818 up to 1829, and relates it to Lincoln’s experiences and perspective.

A creation of the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project at the University of Northern Illinois, Lincoln/Net is a cooperative effort with several other Illinois institutions, including the University of Chicago, the Newberry Library, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Illinois State Archives, as well as several other university and college archives.

Primary sources, as well as secondary sources such as interpretive essays and videos are the main content. Special topics are featured on the main page, and they include the “Black Hawk War,” “Mexican American War,” “Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858,” “Getting the Message Out! National Campaign Materials 1840–1860”—all events related to Lincoln’s political background.

The site is searchable, and when the results are displayed, facets allow the user to refine the search by type (text, video, etc.), genre (book, article, etc.), date, creator or author, and publisher. A prominent browse function on the top menu also allows for serendipitous exploration of the resources contained on the site. Other items featured on the menu include links to specific types of material, and a link, “For Teachers,” that provides lesson plans to be used in connection with the site.

Eight major themes in U.S. history can be explored through the documents on the site. These themes include “Frontier Settlement,” “Native American Relations,” “Economic Development and Labor,” “Women’s Experience and Gender Roles,” “African-American Experience and American Racial Attitudes,” “Law and Society,” “Religion and Culture,” and “Politics.”

A caveat: if you should choose to follow the link from the How to Use box on the right side of the main page, be aware that most of the directional information on that screen is inaccurate, and the link to the Rights Information page doesn’t work. Other than that, this site is recommended for scholars and students interested in the formative years of Lincoln’s political life, as well as the early history of Illinois.

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