Capping Project
Musuem Internet Resources and Educating Future Historians

Internet Resources

The rise of the Internet and digital resources has created a wide range of valuable historical sources online. There are document collections, such as the Avalon Project which is an assortment of historical documents that range it time from Ancient Greece to the twenty-first century. Museums and archive are increasingly making some of their resources available on their websites. The Provincial Archives of Alberta is more limited in its scope: its site contains information on its collections and educational resources for Alberta Students. A more extensive site is the Victoria and Alberta Musuem website which permits the user to search the museum’s extensive collections which range from fashion and furniture to paintings and photographs. Many of the artifacts have been digitally photographed and are available to be seen by Internet users. Some sites are more academic than others: the Council of Foreign Relations website discusses in detail issues of national security and peace and calls itself a non-partisan “think tank.”

Some are interactive such as the Maps of War website which contains multimedia maps and animation; although the site was created by an amateur historian it contains links to authoritative maps and images. The site seeks to provide a visual history of warfare. Other sites are more creative in their content material. The Political Graveyard provides statistics on deceased American politicians. The deceased can be searched alphabetically or through more creative categories such as a search for those politicians who were killed in a duel. Some sites are more commercial than others. The history channel’s website features commercial products, but also valuable information including clips from the show’s programming and detailed information on various historical figures and historical topics including the American Revolution, the American Civil War and the Titanic. The commercial aspect of the site lessens its authority but the information is detailed and extensive.

Other sources include’s webpage on European history that is both wide-ranging and comprehensive and a site on Canadian history, which was produced as part of the History Project, an effort to promote history web sites led by the Access History Web Company. The digital resources available online are wide-ranging and extensive; I have only reviewed a small sample. The sample demonstrates, however, that historical web sites vary in their aims, content and features. However, they often provide detailed information and interactive features. More importantly for historians, the growing tendency of museums and archives to digitize a significant number of their resources, means that historical sources are increasingly becoming accessible from the personal computer and homes of historian users. The growing importance of the Internet has led to a proliferation of historical web sites many of which contain valuable information and even reproductions of primary sources.