Powerful New Resource Changes how Early American Subjects Are Taught
Web-Based Archive of Americana Collections Give Students Unsurpassed Access to the Printed Record of Early America
NAPLES, Fla./April 20, 2005 — Professors across the United States commend Readex, a leading publisher of online historical collections, for enabling students to browse and search nearly every book, pamphlet and broadside printed in America before 1820—online. The new digital editions of Early American Imprints, Series I and II—which follow renowned bibliographies of more than 70,000 printed works—free students and their teachers from the limitations of edited textbooks and anthologies. Wherever there is Web access, students can explore the printed record of the American colonial, Revolutionary and Early Republic periods.
“Now we can teach what we preach: go to the primary sources,” says Edward M. Griffin, Distinguished Graduate Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. “By allowing the kind of cross-referencing and keyword searching never before possible for these documents, digital Early American Imprints challenges teachers to think creatively about exciting ways to engage their classes with these fascinating older texts in their new, digital form.”
And John Fea, Assistant Professor of American History at Messiah College, says, “Digital Early American Imprints will revolutionize the way that early American history is taught on my small liberal arts college campus. I can turn my students loose in this collection and let their historical imaginations run wild.”
Other teachers at small colleges and large universities across the United States anticipate significant advances in the quality and sophistication of work by students who use digital Early American Imprints. “Graduate and undergraduate students can now write papers awash with rich, original sources, inevitably leading to many more—and better—theses and dissertations,” says Bruce Daniels, Professor of History at Texas Tech University.
Digital Early American Imprints will be widely used by almost every humanities and social science department, including interdisciplinary fields such as African American, Native American and women's studies. “While the collection overflows with sermons, hymnals, almanacs, and political tracts, it also contains innumerable plays, novels, games, dictionaries, children's books and even acrostics. The homepage has an index listing dozens of genres, so with one click you can immediately delve into whatever sort of text piques your curiosity,” writes Seth A. Cotlar, Assistant Professor of History at Willamette University.
With a few keystrokes, students can quickly search this comprehensive database and browse individual works, eliminating the need to use a library microfilm reader. “It is difficult to overestimate the value of this wonderful resource. But perhaps most exciting is its power in the classroom,” says Edward G. Gray, Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. “In a recent undergraduate seminar on Benjamin Franklin, I asked students to try this user-friendly database. The quality of the finished papers, along with the fascinating range of topics, owed much to the digital Early American Imprints.”
At the University of Oregon, history professor Matthew Dennis echoes Prof. Gray's remarks: “Teaching a course on the history of American patriotism, I had students do a simple search. They were astonished at what they turned up—odd poems and elegies, songs and sermons, antique disquisitions that seemed strangely prescient. If primary sources are the thing to excited students—as historians themselves have been excited since the beginning of history—then this resource is unbeatable!”
For more than 50 years, the Readex name has been synonymous with research in historical printed materials and government documents. Recognized by librarians, students and scholars for its efforts to transform academic research, Readex offers a wealth of Web-based, primary source materials in the humanities and social sciences. Today, Readex, a division of NewsBank, inc., has established a leadership position among publishers by creating the digital Archive of Americana, a family of online collections that provides unprecedented access to the history, culture and daily life of the United States over more than three centuries.