Daccord, Thomas. The Best of History Web Sites. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2007. 465 pp. 89.95 USD. ISBN-10: 1-55570-611-8; ISBN-13: 978-1-55570-611-1. ∞
Five years ago I selected the Best of History Web Sites http://www.besthistorysites.net as one of the top portals for locating History information on the Web. This award-winning site now has a print counter-part.
The book, like the Web site, identifies and provides annotations for over 1,000 quality History Web sites, including primary resources, maps and atlases, multimedia presentations, and lesson plans and activities. The author, Thomas Daccord, is "an experienced international history teacher...who has been featured in the Boston Globe for his contributions to teaching with technology...and has given many presentations on educational technology topics..." (x)
One might ask what this book offers which is not found on the Web site. Most useful are the suggestions of appropriate grade levels, from LS (Lower School, i.e., K-4) to College (undergraduate college or university courses), as well as the categorization by Resource Types (such as General Reference, Image Collections, Lesson or Activity, and Primary Source Collections). Also adding value to the book are two introductory chapters on "locating and evaluating history [W]eb sites" and "integrating history [W]eb sites in the classroom". The eight chapters which follow cover the periods from prehistory and ancient history through the twentieth century. The final two chapters explore art history and oral history resources, as well as information on maps and geography, research, and the best general history sites and lesson plans. Browsing through the book is a delight.
Many of the sites recommended are created by revered educational and cultural institutions such as the Library of Congress, the Public Broadcasting Service, and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Although the author states that the book "reflects an international perspective" (xii), the amount of Canadian content is rather disappointing. Keeping this in mind, you may wish to supplement the book with a portal such as Canadian History on the Web http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwhist/faculty/sneylan .
This reviewer found very few outdated links, but a few typographical errors escaped the proofreader's attention (for example, on p. 19 in the text box...that could [be] played in class... and on p. 20 a comma begins a line in the annotation for the PBS Online site).
The Index at the back is not especially helpful for locating Web sites by subject. For example, looking under "Women" in the Index shows four Web sites where "women" appears as the lead word in the title, but fails to direct us to entries for Women in the American Civil War (p. 105), Museum of Women's History (p. 132) or Suffragists and Their Tactics (p. 133).
Given the amount and variable quality of information to be found on the World Wide Web, it is extremely helpful to have a book such as this to guide us to credible resources. The only book which rivals this is Trinkle, Dennis A. and Scott A. Merriam's. The History Highway: A 21st Century Guide to Internet Resources. 4th ed. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2006.
Teachers (of all grade levels), librarians, and students will find The Best of History Web Sites helpful in identifying quality Web sites. Educators will find inspiration here for new ways to incorporate technologies into the classroom, and I expect that librarians will also turn to it for help in answering some reference enquiries.
Betty M. Jeffery, Instruction & Education Services Librarian, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
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