part-time musings

Tag: Resources for Historians

Historian smackdown!

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover the wonderful site, googlefight.com.  While I have no idea why it was developed or what other people do with it, I’ve put it to use resolving some longstanding historiographical debates. So, fight fans, here are three great historical smackdowns brought to you live and conclusively by googlefight. Bring it!

1. The ‘gentry controversy’: Hugh Trevor-Roper and Lawrence Stone disagreed over the role of the gentry in relation to the causes of the English Civil War.  Whatever. In a googlefight, Lawrence Stone has the clear upper hand.

2. Russian history book reviews controversy:  Orlando Figes apparently wrote some nasty book reviews on amazon about Bob Service’s books. And blamed these on his wife. But who cares ‘cos on googlefight, it’s Service that lands the punches.

3. The ‘Mfecane debate’: This debate between Julian Cobbing and Elizabeth Eldredge over the causes of the Mfecane conflict in nineteenth century Southern Africa divided African historians. However, in a googlefight things were decided conclusively in Edgredge’s favour.

UK Legislation website

As an historian who mostly works on Africa, I sometimes look enviously at the resources available to historians working on Britain.  The new online archive of UK legislation from 1267 to the present is pretty envy-inducing. Hosted by the National Archives, it’s fully searchable as well as having this great ‘browse legislation by year’ feature, which is useful for tracking legislation across a time period and certainly beats wrestling with Blue Books and the Government Gazette.  And it produces nice shiny graphs that are lovely to look at, like this.

Great Resource for Historians. Australian Newspapers online 1803-1954

Historians working on Australian are doubtlessly aware of the great online archive of Australian Newspapers managed by the National Library of Australia –  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper – but it’s worth considering even if you’re working on a non-Australian topic.  I’ve, for example, had real success recently using the archive for some research on South Africa in the 1940s because newspapers such as the Canberra Times and the Melbourne Argus sometimes carried fairly detailed reports of events elsewhere.  The site’s search facility works pretty smoothly, and it’s possible to save articles in lists or as PDFs.  Scanning hasn’t yet been completed for all newspapers for the entire period, but the period is covered overall if you’re not concerned with sticking to one particular newspaper.  The aim ultimately is to scan all the papers completely, and an overview of progress can be found here http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/about