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September 2006, Week 1


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Sun, 3 Sep 2006 20:09:09 -0400
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>Google book is pretty astounding. It will completely change the way  
>we do historical research, at least when it comes to published  

This may start to run a bit off topic but I was talking to a historian who published a book earlier this year on the American Civil War that required a lot of archival research in the US and Europe.  He said that thanks to extensive online and electronic indexing he didn't need to visit many of the archives himself because he already knew what was there and the librarians/archivists filled in the gaps.  The copying charges were far less than travel expenses.  Clearly this approach would only work for certain subjects and even then there's a definite trade-off.

Personally, I've used Amazon's full-text function for quick research when the library isn't convenient.  Usually that's best for specific information I already knew but needed the confirmation or exact wording though also for some information it's just quicker.  For instance, I had a project where I needed to know when Reagan's divorce from Jane Wyman was final but there were conflicting dates on official websites.  So I was able to check biographies, weed out the ones that were just repeating prior sources and find the most reliable date, all in a few minutes.  

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