The Past And New Media


Information gathering and sharing are one of the most important functionalities of the internet. With the ease of access, availability, and ease of manipulation that internet carries, online websites have become one of the most significant sources of information. Like any other field of academic research, historians have to adapt to the use of technology in acquiring knowledge, communicating it and dispersing the same to audiences that may be interested. As has been stated above, internet guarantees a variety of sources of historical information meaning that some websites address similar aspects of history but with different approaches to delivery regarding the context of usability, creativity, and overall effectiveness. In other words, the gradual digitization of historical information could have been the best thing to have happened in the academic research over the past decades. For all its faults, digitization of factual information is responsible for more improvement in academic research on matters of history and the past. Historical research, publishing, teaching, and writing is significantly affected by the digitization of millions of primary and secondary sources such as maps artifacts, audio, videos, photographs and texts among other sources of information. The paper supports the notion that online historical sources exist in different forms in regards to context suitability, the authority of knowledge, visibility and interface delivery despite the commonality of the concept that underwrites them.

Comparing the different forms of historical sites in American history

American history could be one of the most detailed information contexts as far as human history goes. The complexity that defines the history of America comes from its diverse composition as well as its unique constitutional disposition that formulated the foundation of the country. As such there are volumes of materials and resources that have been stored over time which attempt to record the events in the country’s past. With the advent of technological advancements, the focus of historical research has shifted from hard-paper, hard copy material like books to the more portable and widely accessible, PC and phones thanks to the internet. However, the ease with which they are accessed corresponds with the flexibility of their development. In simple terms, editing information into online sites is a process that can now be done by anyone.

Consequently, the information available online is a direct interpretation of the author and is always structured towards a particular audience regarding language, comprehension, graphics, and orientation to detail. Some of the most popular online sources of information on American history include; blogs, vlogs, websites, and documentaries constitute some of the most comprehensive internet sources of historical data. Specifically, Valley of the Shadow, for instance, is one internet websites through which Americans can learn about events that led to the civil war. The library of Congress, national archives and national geographic education are some of other more popular internet websites with information on United States history. Among all the stated examples the paper focuses on the library of congress and the Valley of the Shadow in an attempt to show how distinct the two internet sources are despite their common interest of making information on US history more accessible.

The Library of Congress

As one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive libraries relied upon by leaders who make decisions that affect the world, it is only natural that The Library of Congress contains an online version with access to all the information that the physical structure comprises. Unlike most libraries of its caliber, the library of Congress has a unique indexing system that mainly focuses on the sections rather than historical occurrences. In the authentic parts of the library, the resource has is divided into seven sectors including ancient, American, European, modern, military, oral and art history.

The online version of the resource s structured to mirror the needs of the audiences targeted by the formulators of the library’s digitized information framework. Due to the generalized nature of the users, the developers of The Library of Congress’ website adopted a simple interface outlook to accommodate all interested parties. An absence of complex graphics utilization along with the presence of primary colors on its phases represents the desire of the administrators not to offend people with simpler tastes. Even though the site has been developed for general audiences, it applies more specifically to certain groups of people such as politicians, lobbyists, political scientists, and students. As an entity, the library of Congress consists of two components which are designed to help interested in learning facts about American history. The components therein include the library of Congress: American memory and The Library of Congress: Teachers. The former is a resource for history in the American context and general studies. The means for delivering information online under this component include multimedia collections of photographs, moving pictures and PowerPoint presentation. Additionally, this component also entails recorded sounds and digitized text as some of the significant means of information communication. As for its counterpart, The Library of Congress: Teachers, it is a new upgrade on the webpage that contains tools and resources for a teacher to use in the classroom for interpreting primary resource document. Examples of such devices include excellent lesson plans, document analysis tools, timelines, presentation, and professional development resources. Other than the machine both sides contain information on political and administrative development that have occurred in the United States since pre-independence.

The Valley of the Shadow: the Eve of the War

The American civil war is one of the most talked about issues in world history as it is known today. Therefore, it is no surprise that some old websites have information regarding the same. One such site is The Valley of the Shadow: the Eve of the War which focuses on the events that occur in the time leading up to the war. Unlike most sources of historical information, this site limits its cope to the state of Virginia which is unique but is made more so by their reliance on epistle documents, diaries, account books and other personal papers of the residents of the state of Virginia, specifically from the county of Augusta. For the information in this site, there are no particular criteria of arrangements given that the collection of documents sited is not arranged chronologically or alphabetically for that matter. Even more baffling is the fact that the letters do not yet appear to be arranged in a manner of significance. One distinction though is for sure, the document cited is labeled with the name of an individual, family or an institution associated with the contents of the letter. Still, on the organization, the information on the site is represented in three sections that cover three periods; before, during and after the war.

From the information obtained in the interface of the website, it is quite evident that the creators of the resource were addressing targeted audiences by adopting a personal view to the events that defined the civil war. The letters, which form the backbone of historical information on the site are tailored to indicate specific details of the individual lives of the residence Augusta County and how the war defined their social, political and economic interactions among themselves and the society. From the comprehensive details indicated in the resource, it is quite clear that the target audience of the website is predominantly young adults who tend to take the circumstances surrounding their communities for granted. It labors to remind them of a generation who usually live but had their lives turned upside down to the very last detail by a war that some of them knew nothing about or wanted nothing to do with the war. The structure of the interface, on the other hand, communicates a different story. It is designed with simple undertones to indicate a generality of audience alongside the fact that it mirrors white and brown colors that are always considered fundamental. Moreover, the website is a field with linked pages which is a means of allowing individuals to access information only where their interest lie. In other words, it is a relational website that embraces information segmentation to suit an individual’s interest.


Digital media plays an essential role in the day-to-day operations of humankind through information analysis, retrieval, sharing, and storage. It is in the same context that digitized media has become important in the storage and sharing of historical information for academic scholars who specialized in the study of past events. However, the evidence presented above in regards to the two websites analyzed indicates a pattern of distinction in the means of formulation and configuration of the online-based information sites.

15 July 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now