JSTOR is the premier scholarly journal database. It is a full-text, interdisciplinary archive of only the most highly respected journal titles. By comparison, ABC-CLIO’s two scholarly databases — America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts— seem to be less frequently used, even by historians. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that JSTOR provides direct access to the full-text, full-page image of all articles in the database. Consider, however, the following advantages of the ABC-CLIO databases:

1) America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts between them index over a thousand scholarly journals, including 65 of the 72 history titles available in JSTOR. A researcher using the ABC-CLIO databases will thus find nearly all citations to JSTOR articles and thousands of additional citations not available in JSTOR.

2) The Libraries’ new TUlink service enables two- or three-click access to the full-text of thousands of articles indexed by America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts. This means that JSTOR’s previous “full-text advantage,” described above, no longer holds.

3) Citations to articles in America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts contain human-generated subject headings; JSTOR’s article citations do not. Why does this make a difference? A researcher using the ABC-CLIO databases could perform a subject search for “Gates, Horatio,” easily finding all 34 citations to articles about the Revolutionary War general. This type of search simply cannot be done in JSTOR.

4) JCR Online assesses the impact of scholarly journals on various academic disciplines. The higher a journal’s “impact factor” the more important that journal is within its discipline. Between them, the two ABC-CLIO databases index all sixteen journals identified by JCR Online as having the highest impact factors in History. These journals are: Environmental HistoryAmerican Historical Review,Journal of American HistoryJournal of Modern HistorySocial Science History,Past & PresentJournal of African HistoryComparative Studies in Society & HistoryJournal of Social HistoryJournal of Interdisciplinary HistoryHistory Workshop JournalInternational Review of Social HistoryEthnohistoryJournal of the History of SexualityZeitgeschichte, and Mouvement Social. JSTOR indexes only twelve of these same sixteen “high impact” history journals.

It certainly is not my objective to sour anyone on the use of JSTOR, which by any measure is a stellar scholarly resource. The point of this post is rather to say that both databases have much to recommend them. The choice of which to use ultimately depends upon the individual needs and preferences of the researcher. A comprehensive history article search will likely require the use of both.

Do you have a favorite history database?

David C. Murray

The Greatest Invention

Has any human achievement topped the invention of writing? Without it History, defined as “all that is remembered of the past as preserved in writing,” couldn’t exist. And neither could libraries. As Margaret Atwood states in the first episode of the Writing Code, a new 3-part series about the evolution of writing now airing on WHYY: “Writing is a code. It is the making of marks. You then have to understand that these marks can be retranslated into speech.” Uniquely among the many different systems of visual signification, writing captures spoken language. Writing appears to have evolved independently in as many as five locations around the world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, China, and Mesoamerica. Early writing served several functions. Among the Sumerians writing developed as an accurate method of keeping accounts; for the Maya its primary purpose was to aggrandize the institution of kingship. No matter what its purpose, writing transformed every society that it touched. The following books tell the story of how three of the world’s earliest writing systems — Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphics, as well as Sumerian cuneiform — were deciphered by modern scholars.

Breaking the Maya Code by Michael D. Coe, c1992
The Invention of Cuneiform: Writing in Sumer by Jean-Jacque Glassner, c2003
The Story of Writing by Andrew Robinson, c1995

The next time you find yourself struggling through 200 pages of assigned reading for an Anthro, History, Poly Sci, Psych, or other college course, remember those long-ago geniuses who invented writing, without whom none of it would be possible!

David C. Murray

Significant History Acquisitions, FY 2006-2007

The following recaps the more significant history-related acquisitions in the just-ended fiscal year of 2006-2007:

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (1801-1900) – HCPP is perhaps the most important electronic resource acquired for the History Department in FY 06-07. “The House of Commons Parliamentary Papers are vital to the historical record of Britain, its former Colonies and the wider world. They are among the richest and most detailed primary sources for the history of the past two centuries, and are fundamental to an understanding of current legislation, policy making and the political environment. HCPP online, with searchable full text, and detailed subject indexing, makes it possible to fully exploit the enormous potential of this resource for the first time” (HCPP About). HCPP does not include Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, which are available in printed form from the Library Depository. For more information about content and coverage see the Guide to Parliamentary Papers.

Periodicals Index Online (PIO) – Formerly known as Periodicals Contents Index / PCI, “Periodicals Index Online is an electronic index to millions of articles published in over 5,000 periodicals in the humanities and social sciences. . . It is unique in combining a broad subject base with deep chronological coverage going back over 300 years” (ProQuest About – Periodicals Index Online). The database indexes many European foreign language journals. For full-text access to over 450 of the titles indexed in Periodicals Index Online, explore the complementary database Periodicals Archive Online (PAO). The over 130 full-text history titles in PAO can be accessed by clicking on “Find Journals” from the homepage, then on “Find Journals by Subject”; a right-hand column will display a list of subjects, including “History (General) [94 journals]” and “History (The Americas) [37 journals]”

British Periodicals Online (Collection I) – This database consists of full-text access to approximately 160 journal titles published between the late 17th and early 20th centuries. It covers topics as diverse as history, literature, philosophy, science, and the fine arts. British Periodicals can be searched in tandem with hundreds of additional journal backfiles via the aforementioned Periodicals Archive Online. Researchers can also use the online Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals (part of C19) to link directly into full-text content in both British Periodicals and Periodicals Archive. “Crucially, the addition of attribution information from the Wellesley Index makes it possible to search for instances of a word or phrase in a given author’s contributions to periodicals even where these originally appeared unsigned or over a pseudonym” (ProQuest About – British Periodicals).

Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) – This is the online version of the longstanding printed DDRS. The database currently contains over 78,000 post-WWII declassified documents that originated with the National Archives and U.S. executive branch agencies. The DDRS complements the Digital National Security Archive (DNSA), a similar Temple database containing over 63,000 declassified federal government documents. Though similar in purpose, each of these databases is unique. DNSA is a thematic database that focuses on 29 important events in post-WWII U.S. history (e.g. Cuban Missile Crisis, Iran-Contra Affair, the First Gulf War, etc.). DDRS, on the other hand, contains a much broader collection of materials. Important social and domestic issues are covered. DDRS also provides access to non-U.S. declassified documents from NATO. A minor difference between the two databases is the manner of release and provenance of the documents available. Many of the documents found in DDRS were originally requested by researchers via NARA’s network of presidential libraries. Many DNSA documents, on the other hand, came to light as the result of executive branch compliance with the 1966 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

African American Newspapers: The 19th Century (Part XI) – Part XI of this popular and important database includes full-text coverage of The Christian Recorderfrom January 1894 to December 1898. A full-page image upgrade is promised soon.

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae – This database contains virtually all Greek texts surviving from the period between Homer (8th century BCE) and CE 600, as well as the majority of surviving works up to the fall of Byzantium in CE 1453. Note: A polytonic Greek font must be installed on your computer in order to view some texts. With some browsers, you may also be able to input your search in Greek; with others, you may have to input Beta Code or Latin Transliteration. Extensive information about font requirements is available at the TLG website.

The Papers of W.E.B. DuBois – This set consists of 83 microfilm reels of the correspondence of W.E.B. DuBois, one of the most prominent early figures for African-American liberation. Coverage dates range from 1877 to 1965. For information about content see ProQuests’s collection description.

David C. Murray

LGBT History

The Libraries have acquired on microfilm The Lesbian Herstory Archives, part 7 of the Gay Rights Movement. This collection consists of a full 150 reels of primary-source material along with a 73-page printed collection guide. Media types represented include “clippings, flyers, brochures, conference materials, reports, correspondence, and other printed ephemera”. The earliest documents date to the 1950s and the era of the Daughters of Bilitis organization. Additional information about the nature of the collection is available from the LHA website.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives complements existing primary-source printed and digital collections such as the Gerritsen Collection and Women and Social Movements. It also complements GenderWatch and the new-to-Temple LGBT Life, two databases that index journal articles and other secondary sources. LGBT Life in particular contains indexing and abstracts for more than 130 LGBT-specific core periodicals and over 290 LGBT-specific core books and reference works. It also includes comprehensive, full-text coverage of The Advocate (1996 to date) and other important LGBT publications.

David C. Murray

Spotlight on CIA History

Three new library books take a critical look at the 60-year history of the CIA:

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (c2007) by New York Times reporter Tim Wiener. Listen to the author discuss his book (Real Player required).

In Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (c2006), Chalmers Johnsonargues for the disbandment of the CIA: “I believe we will never again know peace, nor in all probability survive very long as a nation, unless we abolish the CIA, restore intelligence collecting to the State Department, and remove all but purely military functions from the Pentagon” (21). Can the American Republic survive “clandestine operations” abroad; the creation of a “private army” answerable only to the president; or the secrecy engendered by “a government within a government”? Nemesis is the third book in a trilogy that also includesBlowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (c2000) and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (c2004).

David Barrett, a political scientist at Villanova University, is the author of The CIA & Congress: The Untold Story From Truman To Kennedy (c2005). Barrett examined recently declassified CIA documents, the so-called 700-page “family jewels,” linking the agency to the attempted assassination of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and others. Listen to Barrett discuss his findings (Real Player required).

The Federation of American Scientists has made available online the CIA’s ownFactbook on Intelligence. Two Temple databases offer declassified CIA documents: Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) and Digital National Security Archive. More CIA history? Click United States. Central Intelligence Agency — History, or explore the Force & Diplomacy subject guide.

David C. Murray

New Database Trial: Illustrated Civil War Newspapers & Periodicals

Illustrated Civil War Newspapers and Periodicals is the definitive online resource for research and study about Lincoln’s presidency and the events leading up to and throughout the American Civil War years, as presented by the media of the period. The database contains 65,000 pages drawn from 49 periodicals, including 15 campaign newspapers, most of them illustrated—3,720 issues published from 1860 to 1865. Originally printed in 16 different cities, many of the publications are now rare and hard to find, with an item sometimes extant only in a single archive. Carefully sought out and compiled from 17 different museum, library, and private collections, and thanks to the generosity of institutions such as the American Antiquarian Society, the Chicago Historical Society, and a number of private collectors, these resources are now available to modern scholars in electronic form for the first time” (AlexanderStreetPress.com).

The trial will run through the remaining part of August and all of September. This is a username and password authenticated trial; use the information below to gain access to the database:

August Password:
Username: reviewer
Password: 67commencement7
(Valid until 8/31)

September Password:
Username: reviewer
Password: 5dictatorial92
(Valid until 9/30)

Please provide feedback in the comments or send me an email.

David C. Murray

Eighteenth Century Journals Trial

Yet another history database trial! This time around it’s Eighteenth Century Journals I from U.K. publisher Adam Matthew. “Eighteenth Century Journals I contains material from the Hope Collection at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, one of the finest surviving collections of eighteenth-century periodicals. In this resource we have drawn together 95 rare journals printed between 1693 and 1799, combining major publications with more ephemeral works to underline the broad variety of eighteenth century print journalism” (Adam Matthew). There is minimal overlap with the recently acquired ProQuest database British Periodicals I, EEBO or ECCO. Feedback welcomed in the comments or via email.

David C. Murray

Associated Press Images

TU Libraries is pleased to announce the addition of AP Images to its collection of databases.

Capturing the greatest moments in history, news, sports, and entertainment as seen by the Associated Press, AP Images (formerly AccuNet/AP Multimedia Archive) is one of the largest collections of historical and contemporary news photographs, containing over 3 million images from the 1840s to the present, with thousands more added daily. In addition to AP’s iconic photographs, the collection also includes over 50,000 graphics, containing logos, graphs, maps, and timelines.

Worldwide in scope, AP Images is a first-rate resource for all researchers interested in the impact of media on society or those simply in search of superb primary source photographs. Searching capabilities include the ability to search by keyword, person, date, or event, in addition to browsing feature photograph collections. All content from AP Images may be downloaded and used for educational purposes.

Please feel free to contact me at devoek@temple.edu for further information about this resource.

– Kristina De Voe

Footnote.com: Unique History Database Trial

We’ve set up a trial to a rather unusual history database called Footnote.com. Originally marketed to genealogists, Footnote.com has only recently come to the attention of research libraries. Institutions supporting serious history research and scholarship are taking an interest in Footnote.com because of a unique partnership with NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration. According to a NARA promotional document created in early February, “The National Archives and Footnote.com are working as partners to bring unprecedented access to selections of the vast holdings of the National Archives.” Highlights include Papers of the Continental Congress (1774-89), the Matthew B. Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs, and the Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-1922. More recently added according to the Footnote.com website are records of the Constitutional Convention. The technology for displaying images is really slick: zoom way in on a document, rotate it, even add your own comments and annotations. The last “feature” is perhaps not ideal for serious scholars as it tends to clutter the screen. At least the annotations can be turned off.

One caveat with this database is that the NARA material is interspersed with documents uploaded by genealogists, amateur researchers, and individual subscribers. Granted, individuals often have nice things to share. However, it’s incongruous to give local and family history documents the same weight as primary-source NARA material. Clearly the developers of this database are striving, in a Web 2.0 sort of way, to be as inclusive and interactive as possible. Please have a look at this database and let me know what you think in the comments or via email.

David C. Murray

Journal Finder Enhancements Now In Place

The Journal Finder enhancements announced earlier this month are now in place. We hope you’ll agree that the new Journal Finder, powered by Serials Solutions, combines a cleaner, more responsive user interface with enhanced search and navigation capabilities.

Serials Solutions is the name of both a company and the e-journals management system used to power the new Journal Finder. Put another way, Journal Finder is simply Temple’s branded name for the back-end Serials Solutions management system. For all the geeky technical details read Serials Solutions AMS page. Temple librarians work diligently with Serials Solutions to ensure that Journal Finder provides the most accurate, up-to-date record of the Libraries’ serials holdings.

There are two ways to track down journals in the new Journal Finder: Search and Browse. Each of these functions is contained inside its own light blue box on the Journal Finder home page. The Search function allows you to search for a complete or partial title (the default) or for a word or words in any part of the title (“Title contains all words”). You can also search for a title by its ISSN or International Standard Serial Number. The greatly enhanced Browse function, located in the lower of the two light blue boxes, allows you to retrieve an alphabetical list of titles by subject. This can be helpful if you’re trying to get an idea of the journals Temple subscribes to in a particular academic discipline, for example archaeology or film studies.

David C. Murray