More on Historians and Online Sources

The recent H-SHEAR exchange about online sources, which I blogged about previously, has prompted other related discussions.

On H-CivWar, a review of Edward Sebesta and James Loewen’s The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader prompted Peter Knupfer, H-Net guru extraordinaire, to question the lack of online resources in document readers. His post elicited a response from Sebesta outlining the many problems inherent in relying on the Internet for primary sources. Knupfer clarified the purpose of his original post, which was not to suggest that there aren’t problems with online sources, but to recommend that historians be more imaginative in their exploration of those sources, which might include online museum exhibits, for example.

On The Historical Society’s blog, Bland Whitley offers a thoughtful post on several of the issues identified in Dan Feller’s “shot heard ’round the Internet.” He concludes with some good advice:

Standards will and should evolve with the times, but we should not displace one set of works with another simply because the new batch is easily and freely obtainable. Any shift should be based on the responsibility we have to our readers to connect them with the best available sources, print or web-based.

I have a feeling that this discussion is not going to disappear any time soon.

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