Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trusting the Internet

Are you writing a children's story about people born into slavery? A paper on Walt Whitman? A novel set during the Great Depression? A book about the birth of America?

Three words are very important.

Research, research, and research.

You can go to the library and take out books covering your subject matter. You can travel to a plantation in Virginia or a slave market in Charleston, South Carolina. Or you can check the Internet.

It's easy to find information on the Internet, but you can't always trust the source. The Internet does, however, have one huge repository of reliable information: the Library of Congress website at

This site has more on-line collections than you can imagine. They range from first-person slave narratives and photographs like the one above, to copies of Walt Whitman's notebooks, to life histories gathered by the WPA Federal Writers' Project from 1936-1940, to James Madison's and Thomas Jefferson's papers. The site even reproduces the original records from the Congress that debated the Bill of Rights. And you can view them all from the comfort of your own home.

How much easier can it get?

The picture was taken around 1862 by Henry P. Moore and is labeled "Gwine to de field, Hopkinson's Plantation, Edisto Island, S.C." It is in the Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs on the Library of Congress website.

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