Routledge Historical Resources: History of Feminism
Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group;
Free trial available
content History of Feminism (HoF) is the first product to be published in Routledge’s new Historical Resources platform, which combines primary and secondary resources from Routledge and Taylor & Francis publications in a study of the “long nineteenth century” (in this case, interpreted as being from 1776 to 1928). Sources available here include entire monographs, relevant book chapters, journal articles, thematic essays commissioned by Routledge expressly for this product, and an introductory welcome message from the academic editor of the collection, Cardiff University’s Ann Heilmann, explaining feminism’s historical development.
The homepage includes a simple search box and a main toolbar with the options Home, About, Browse, Gallery, Librarians, Free Trial, Take a Tour, and Help. Also featured on this page are content boxes: Subjects, Periods, Regions, Notable Figures, Thematic Essays, and Most Read Documents. There are two additional boxes advertising related Routledge content, in this case leading to titles in the publisher’s book series “Women’s and Gender History” and “Research in Gender and History.”
USABILITY Opting to take a tour from the main toolbar leads to a two-minute video about the product. Instead, I went back to the homepage and explored the resource through several of the content areas. The Subjects heading provides access to eight major areas: education, empire, literature and writings, movements and ideologies, politics and law, religion and belief, society and culture, and women at home.
When selecting “empire,” I discovered an essay stating that the section “brings together a wide range of primary materials from Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada and Africa.” This area includes such material as Bronwyn Dalley’s article, “ ‘Fresh attractions’: White Slavery and Feminism in New Zealand, 1885–1918,” from the September 2000 issue of Women’s History Review as well as the essay, “Race, Empire, and the Making of Western Feminism” by Antoinette Burton. I also found The Great Rebellion of 1857 in India, edited by Biswamoy Pati. Each item is available as PDF.
Next, I browsed the Periods, specifically the time period from 1770 to 1799. This led to such search results as “Wollstonecraft in Europe, 1792–1904: A Revisionist Reception History,” from the journal History of European Ideas. Along with information about citing the documents in MLA, APA, and Harvard styles, researchers can export citations in two formats: BibTeX and RIS.
In an attempt to learn more about the actual contents of the collection, I reviewed the FAQs, which are located in the About section, which states: “There are approximately 180 volumes of primary source material, alongside more than 1,000 chapters of secondary content and over 100 journal articles, as well as 16 newly commissioned thematic essays from experts in the field.”
A search for American suffragist “Lucy Stone” retrieved 107 results with 228 matches. To refine my search, I chose subject limiters such as Society and Culture, and then Beauty and Fashion. This allowed me to locate several articles and essays that mentioned Stone. Another search for the term “rational dress” led to 163 results with 541 matches, of which most were relevant.
While browsing the recently published Women in Transnational History Connecting the Local and the Global, I realized that I could only access four of the nine essays in the book. By returning to the FAQ, I found the following answer: “History of Feminism is a specially curated resource to enable easy and clear access to only the most-relevant materials covering the subject of feminism between the period 1776–1928. We have therefore selected only the relevant chapters from some books…. There may be some Taylor & Francis book and journal content that is relevant to the subject covered, and time period, but is not included on the resource. This may be due to the fact that we do not have electronic rights to use the content on the resource.”
Unfortunately, the lack of all available content reduces the value of the collection.
Lastly, I looked at the Gallery, which contains “primary source images that depict various aspects and events of women’s feminist history.” At the time of publication, there were 67 images available, about 40 of which are sourced from the Women’s Library, London School of Economics.
To see how subject content is distributed in HoF, I checked the regional search results, which are as follows: Africa: 14; Americas: 97; Asia: 34; Europe: 292; and Oceania: 19. I found some anomalies while browsing the Notable Figures; in the alphabetical list, random clicks on Alice James and Catherine Macauley returned no results.
pricing Routledge Historical Resources: History of Feminism is available on a perpetual basis only, with pricing starting at $7,000. Given this model of pricing, buyers should know that content published on the resource will not be updated.
verdict The value of HoF for your library will depend heavily on your past investment in Routledge titles. The content that’s here is scholarly and beneficial; it’s what’s not included that may concern customers. For libraries lacking Routledge handbooks and monographs on the subject, this could be a reasonable acquisition. But given HoF’s static nature, the relatively small amount of journal content is not a good reason for purchase for most libraries.
That some relevant material is not available from books in the collection is a real cause for concern, especially since it’s likely to confuse undergraduates. A trial, combined with some title analysis, is strongly recommended for interested libraries.
World Religions Online
Free trial available
content Infobase’s World Religions Online (WRO) database introduces faiths from around the globe—their beliefs, traditions, and peoples—using text and multimedia that are presented in a clean, attractive package. The homepage of World Religions places an emphasis on multimedia, with the “above the fold” screen space offering three selections each from a set of 25 “Featured Videos” and three “Featured Sacred Music” videos from a total of 12 such resources.
Further down, users will find multiple slideshows and maps and graphs, and then an area called “At a Glance,” which offers collections of material on select religious texts, religious founders, and an array of 21st-century religious leaders. A large “Topic Centers” sidebar on the homepage will be useful to those who already know the subject they wish to explore. At the same time, students who are fishing for a topic can find here a ready-made, linked list of faiths from which to choose. Listed here are major religions and groupings (e.g., “New Religious Movements”), and each center presents subtopics on several aspects, such as deity or deities; festivals; key people; sites; and texts. Sidebars within the topic centers provide a calendar of relevant religious holidays and a linked list of primary sources.
Another sidebar on the homepage presents links to various items of “Religion in the News.” At the time of this review, the articles featured were all from the previous two days and revealed an unexpected item on Jediism (“Master Yoda’s aphorisms up against an inscrutable textbook is a battle that may end in a tie”) and an article on the hunt for the terrorist who attacked a Christmas market in Berlin in December 2016. It is a pity that this area doesn’t link to previously available news articles that focus on religion, though these are retrievable by using the search box.
A “Sources” link on the homepage shows the breadth of material that the items in this database are drawn from—this is not merely a digitization of the vendor’s books. Monographs are included, though, with (as of this writing) 205 Facts On File (FoF), Chelsea House, and Wiley-Blackwell titles providing the raw material for some of the textual material in the database.
The title choices, most of which are from FoF, are up-to-date; around half of them were published in 2016, and another 85 updated between 2014 and 2016. Other source categories include primary sources, with material from, for example, the Library of Congress, websites associated with various religious groups, and named print items. Images are sourced from Wikimedia Commons, private collections, and the American Jewish Archives, to name but a few sources, and the provenance of the database’s videos and time lines is also provided.
Curriculum Center is also included in WRO, subdivided into areas for both teachers and students. The teacher section offers “Preventing Plagiarism” and “Teaching About Religion,” while the student material is more extensive, providing links to material on “Analyzing Primary Sources,” “Avoiding Plagiarism,” “Citing Sources,” “Completing a Primary Source Worksheet,” “Evaluating Online Sources,” and “Writing a Research Paper.”
USABILITY As in other online products with which patrons will be familiar, it is possible to browse this database or to search for particular items. Those who try the more casual approach will find it is facilitated by a “Browse” button that leads to a linked list of topic centers. Browsing can offer some interesting paths.
Searching the topic center for “Zoroastrianism,” for example, one can read the “Rituals and Rites of Passage” chapter from Zoroastrianism (Chelsea House, 3d ed., 2009; updated in 2016), which includes the religion’s rituals around death. A sidebar links to the book’s other chapters and to glossary terms. The chapters feature linked tags, too, so that from the material on Zoroastrianism a patron could link to information on other monotheistic religions and on religion in Iran.
Using the search function to learn about a much bigger religion, Catholicism, revealed material from a variety of sources and covering a multitude of topics related to the religion, such as the practice of it in different countries, related critique, sexuality as related to Catholicism, and conversion to the faith. This database’s entries on large religions tend to be from longer works than the book on the small Zoroastrian religion listed above, and in those cases, the rest of the book’s content is not listed. There is, however, a link to the title’s table of contents, the entries in which are also links, offering another way to learn about the religion or simply to browse.
Free accounts are available to users; as in other vendors’ products, if the patron gives the publisher some of their personal data, more features are unlocked. In WRO, users who create an account can save material there and get content update alerts, for example. All users have access to several other handy tools, such as the ability to download articles to Google Drive and to have material read aloud (although this latter feature wasn’t working at the time of review; several articles lead to a message that the file was corrupt). Patrons may also click to create citations, print or share articles, and save searches as well as items found.
pricing Complete pricing is determined by full-time enrollment for schools and by number of cardholders for public libraries. All prices are for unlimited usage within the institution and include remote access privileges. Starting prices for World Religions Online are $300 for K-12 institutions, $500 for public libraries, and $699 for academic libraries.
VERDICT This database is suitable for a wide range of patrons, as it provides all the material necessary for a high school–level paper while offering a beginning point for AP or community college research. Nonacademic readers will find plenty here to interest them, too, making this product a worthy purchase for school, public, and community college libraries.