by Derry Nairn
It can be somewhat difficult to comprehend the amount of current information out there on the web. One good metaphor goes something like this:
if you can imagine the contents of the US Library of Congress multiplied by ten thousand, this figure would roughly represent what data presently exists on the internet. New data is delivered in the form of a large dump truck reversing into the main hall every two seconds, and dumping a pile of new books on the floor.
Suffice to say there is a lot out there. Well to add to this, three massive historical archives have been launched in recent times whose own size alone is pretty staggering.
The first is
For 23 years Tony Patel has been an employee of the project’s partners, the National Archives. He was born in
Even if you don’t hold any personal connections with the names on the list, a search for famous names such as Winston Churchill or Roger Moore should uncover equally intriguing data. When Elizabeth Taylor arrived back in
The second archive is Gale Cengage's Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). This is an ambitious project aiming to collect every significant 18th Century English and foreign language title printed in
The last is not so much a historical database in itself, but a useful link to a myriad of local archives. The Archive Awareness Campaign plans to highlight the wealth of relevant historical information which is easily accessible for most people around the UK. The campaign, which launches today, is very definitely focused on local history research, and will show how different groups and individuals have worked to bring about change and raise awareness of social issues among decision makers and opinion informers.
The campaign will shine regular spotlights on major historical themes such as feminism, human rights and the slave trade. A couple of interesting upcoming shows include:
How Many Miles to Market?
7th Nov 2008: Norfolk Record Office, Kings Lynn
Illustrated talk about food supplies to the people of medieval Lynn
Slavery & Banana Cake
14 November 2008
Northampton Archives will highlight the issue of slavery and its impact locally
Take Your Place In History: An exhibition on the First World War1st of November, 2008 - 30th of November, 2008
Cumbria Archive Service looks at the different ways in which Cumbria was affected by the war.
Again, the Archive Awareness Campaign as a whole is backed by the National Archives, who themselves have a huge amount of fascinating material to share.