World at War; Women, War and Society; InfoBase eBooks; eShort Takes; & More | ereviews, World War I

The world changed dramatically in 1914, and with the centenary of the Great War upon us, we are taking a look at the various resources that permit teachers, students, and scholars to reexamine all aspects of this worldwide conflict. These include a host of World War I–related ebooks from Infobase Publishing (an almanac, an eyewitness history, and critical examinations of the World War I–era poets—all multivolume sets in their print incarnations); the ABC-CLIO resource World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society, offering factual coverage and scholarly interpretations of 27 different wars; Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War from ProQuest, a unique, international collection of rare magazines created by and for the men and women of the various military and aid organizations that participated in the war; and the Gale Cengage product Women, War and Society, 1914–1918, an Archives Unbound resource tool documenting the emerging role and critical contributions of women during wartime.

World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society ABC-CLIO;



CONTENT World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society from ABC-CLIO aims not simply to give its users a historical account of human conflict from ancient times to the present but to put the causes and consequences of wars into perspective so that students can appreciate the lasting impact war has on any society. The site is organized around wars from 13 periods dating back to “Ancient Greece, 2000–30 BCE” (the Peloponnesian War and the wars of Alexander the Great) and proceeding through to “A Global World, 1991–Present” (covering the Persian Gulf War, the Yugoslav Wars, the Afghanistan War and the War on Terror, and the Iraq War).

In all, 27 wars are represented, each with an overview, time line, causes and consequences, depictions of the various combatants, and supporting facts and figures. World at War includes approximately 7,000 authoritative reference entries, including biographies and treatments of key places, events, movements, concepts, artifacts, and organizations. Some 8,000 primary-source documents and personal narratives, maps, photos, and other images, as well as a number of video and audio clips, complete the package. It’s the richness of its primary-source materials—treaties, speeches, journals, cultural documents—that transforms the database from a simple reference source into a sophisticated tool for researchers.

An “Idea Exchange” area features expert scholarly debate on a number of provocative “Enduring Questions”: Was Ronald Reagan responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War? Who has historic rights to Palestine and how does this question affect wider Arab-Israeli issues? Could the United States have won the Vietnam War? The three essays that address the question of the primary cause of World War I—“Expectations of War in 1914,” “Fear and the Outbreak of War in 1914,” and “Strategic Miscalculations in 1914”—range from about 2,000 to almost 3,000 words and include bibliographic references.

World at War was developed in consultation with a group of military, intelligence, and academic experts. It is updated on a regular basis; as of mid-March, the database included roughly three dozen entries referencing 2014 developments.

USABILITY On each visit, the clean, elegantly designed World at War interface showcases a different conflict, highlights a featured story, and gives the user a sampling of the “Enduring Questions” from the “Idea Exchange.” The user may immediately do a quick keyword search, browse the wars, visit the “Idea Exchange” area, or switch to advanced search mode.

Each of the wars has between one and seven essays associated with the conflicts from that era. Entries open with an overview essay summarizing the key historical and cultural events of that period. Additional entries—articles, media, documents, etc.—are associated in turn with the parent piece.

Highlighted terms appearing within each entry are hot-linked to the database, creating connections throughout the resource. Likewise, the faceted display of related entries alongside the article being viewed encourages researchers to investigate thoroughly the full range of World at War’s contents. The article “Legacy of the War: World War I” links to more detailed treatments of subjects such as reparations, the League of Nations, Zionism, and the Treaty of Versailles, while the “Documents” link in the left-hand frame goes to the text of the treaty itself.

Advanced search mode permits the user to search by eight (mostly format-related) categories any of the 13 time periods or 11 regions using any combination of check boxes. Keywords may be added into the search strategy for additional precision. Checking the “World at War, 1914–1945” box under “Wars” and typing in the keywords “pandemic or influenza,” for example, is the equivalent of the Boolean search strategy “The World at War, 1914–1945 AND (pandemic OR influenza).” Preliminary results may be filtered by checking additional format-related categories, such as “Articles” and its subcategory “Events,” for example, after the results are displayed. Clicking on the “Idea Exchange” box limits results to the scholarly essays in that area of the resource.

Users may narrow or expand their search strategies by using Boolean operators (“AND,” “OR”) or by using quotation marks to find exact phrases. Keywords are automatically truncated. Entries may be easily printed or emailed (using APA, Chicago, or MLA style). Entry citations can also be exported to RefWorks or EasyBib. Users may cross-search World at War with other subscribed ABC-CLIO databases via check boxes on the Multiproduct Home Page.

PRICING ABC-CLIO pricing varies according to type of institution and is based on the size of the population served. For a small institution, a one-year subscription to World at War starts at just over $400, for example. Free 30-day trials are available.

VERDICT World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society combines a solid foundation of reference-type factual content with a rich collection of primary-source material, valuable in itself for students doing basic library research. ABC-CLIO doesn’t stop there, however. It turns World at War into an academic showcase by incorporating a number of authoritative essays—unique to this resource—demonstrating how scholars debate complex historical questions.

World at War is offered in a standard edition suited for school use and in an academic edition—which includes the “Idea Exchange” feature—aimed at college and community college student researchers.

Women, War and Society Gale, part of Cengage Learning;



CONTENT With its Archives Unbound series of products, Gale unleashes the contents of an extraordinary array of primary-source materials that have made the journey from their original archival boxes to microfilm cabinets and are now appearing in digital format, enabling ambitious research projects that once were virtually unimaginable. Women, War and Society, 1914–1918, documents invaluable contributions women made to the war effort in Europe as well as the profound impact the conflict had on women’s lives and social roles.

Assembled by the Imperial War Museums, London, the Women at Work Collection (the foundation of this product) includes reports from international relief and charitable organizations, pamphlets, photo­graphs, newspaper clippings, magazines, posters, correspondence, minutes, records, diaries, memoranda, statistics, circulars, regulations, and invitations—115,225 images in all.

Adding value are ten scholarly essays, accessible via the “Women, War and Society Resources” link on the first page. These essays—among them Mary Wilkinson’s “Patriotism and Duty: The Women’s Work Collection at the Imperial War Museum,” which describes how the original archival collection came to be and the various sorts of items it originally contained—introduce the material available here and put the activities and contributions made by women into perspective. The three- to 16-­page-long essays deal with such topics as medical service, patriotism, suffrage, military service, women’s work in general, and religious and voluntary organizations.

USABILITY Any of the Archives Unbound collections that a library purchases may be viewed individually from that library’s list of titles or viewed in groupings of broad thematic categories. This collection is cross-listed under the British studies, women’s studies, and military history collections. Selecting “View All Documents” brings up the various volumes of the collection with a single box enabling the user to search within these results.

Clicking on a document’s title in the results list permits the user to page through the PDF or jump to the specific page within the document where the search term is located. Search terms are helpfully highlighted in the document’s text. Users may also search within the document using additional keywords.

Advanced search offers specific fields (full text, keyword, document title, author, place name, document number, or previous searches with search boxes connected by pull-down Boolean operators). The user may search all of a library’s Archive Unbound holdings, single collections, multiple collections, or broad thematic categories such as British studies or women’s studies. Advanced mode also permits searching by date range and language. Titles are enhanced so that including a term like “pamphlet” or “correspondence” and selecting the document title search field will pull up those types of sources.

The “fuzzy search” capability—intended to “expand your results to include very broad matches on your term(s)”—did not produce the results we expected. Searches for “pacifists” with the fuzzy search setting at “high” produced no results. The same thing happened when we searched the term “pacifism.” By contrast, a keyword search for “pacifists” with fuzzy search off (i.e., “none”) gave us 33 hits, and truncating the term to “pacifis*” expanded the results to 70 items.

The results list sorts by date (ascending) by default. Many of the items in the collection are undated, however, which obviously makes following a story chronologically more difficult. Documents may be easily printed, emailed, downloaded as PDFs, cited, and bookmarked.

The documents in this collection are 100 years old and are digital versions of images that have previously been transferred to microfilm, but generally speaking, image quality is quite good.

PRICING Gale’s Women, War and Society, 1914–1918 is based on an institution’s FTE and starts at $1,125 for the smallest institution.

VERDICT This is a vital tool for those teaching, studying, and researching the social, political, military, and gender history of the previous century, as it provides an often overlooked perspective.

Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War ProQuest;



CONTENT With material published between 1914 and the end of 1919, Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War is a valuable archival collection of rare magazines written and illustrated by and for the men and women of the various armed forces units and associated welfare organizations of every nation involved in the war. Gathered from major libraries and research collections around the world, including those of the Imperial War Museums and the British Library, this collection contains over 1,500 publications, with titles such as 5th East Surrey Magazine; British Times: The Official Organ of the British Help Committee; The Dead Horse Corner Gazette: A Monthly Trench Journal of Breezy Comment; and The Jackass: The First Australian General Hospital Monthly.

Making up a rich library of “lost voices,” the magazines were produced mostly unofficially and offer an essential alternative perspective to histories of the First World War, and to the more established authors who emerged later, making the collection important for those interested in war studies, military history, the literature of the era, and cultural and gender studies during the pre-1919 period. The magazines were distributed primarily to the members of the units and were meant to raise the spirits of those “in the trenches” through humorous stories, memoirs, poems, jokes, cartoons, and parodies. Subject coverage includes the First World War; English, American, French, German, and women’s literature; trench journalism; the armed forces; military veterans; and political satire.

Content comes from those who served in the infantry; artillery; air force; naval, supply, and transport units; prisoner-of-war camps; military hospitals; and training depots of all combatant nations. Although the majority of material scanned originates from units based on the western front in France, there are magazines in nine languages including Polish, Italian, German, Dutch, and Spanish. Units serving in Gallipoli, Palestine, Egypt, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Britain, and America contributed stories.

USABILITY As with other ProQuest products, this material can be seamlessly cross-searched with other subscribed databases that fall within a history or military history subject search.

Users can initiate a basic search or opt for advanced, with all typical limit features, as well as those unique to the database (unit name, type, origin, location, etc.). We entered “food” and retrieved more than 5,000 results. Source type is magazines for all rec­ords, but document type includes article, ad, poem, letter, fiction/narrative, illustration, drama, review, and comic. That the search results included an article called “Food Going Weekly to American Prisoners” from the American Red Cross Bulletin, detailing food supplies sent to Americans confined in German prison camps; a poem entitled “Concerning Food” from The Camp Magazine, a periodical produced for members of the First Royal Naval Brigade who were interned in a POW camp at Groningen in Holland; and a three-page drama set in a London slum, called “A Visit from Mrs. Smith,” from the Women’s Volunteer Reserve Magazine, will give readers a sense of the range of content. Records include full-text Flash and full-text PDF, detailed indexing information, and a translated 75- to 100-word snippet from the scanned image.

Within advanced search, searchers can use “command line search” or “find similar,” which allows them to find additional items by copying a selection of text from an article’s full text or abstract. The method is not as effective with this resource, as the majority of content is comprised of scanned images and the only match comes from the brief text in the abstract.

Users can register for a “My Research” account to obtain 24-7 access, create search alerts, get RSS feeds, save documents and searches across ProQuest sessions, and utilize all the other features available on the platform.

PRICING Pricing is based on FTE, population served, existing ProQuest databases, consortium agreements, and/or buying groups. Free trials are available.

VERDICT Given its range of rare content, as well as its vast geographic coverage, Trench Journals and Unit Magazines is invaluable as an interdisciplinary research tool. The editorials, advertisements, poetry, photographs, illustrations, plays, and more will satisfy the military studies major and the historical scholar as well as the curious student.

InfoBase eBooks Infobase Learning;

CONTENT InfoBase Publishing provides access to more than 3,700 current and backlist titles, spanning a wide range of core, curriculum-oriented subject areas for elementary, middle school, high school, and academic audiences. The InfoBase platform, which includes more than 230 book series, such as “The World in Focus,” “America at War,” and “Symbols of American Freedom,” organizes individual titles within 25 subject areas, including military and war, U.S. history, and world history.

The ebooks are web-based versions of the company’s print reference books, and new publications are available in both print and ebook formats. Institutions retain perpetual access, and the platform offers unlimited simultaneous use at all times. Books are displayed in PDF and HTML format, and access to The Facts on File Student’s Dictionary of American English is available on every screen for a quick lookup of terms.

Institutions receive an archival PDF of each ebook purchased directly, which can be downloaded via the administration portal, as can MARC record files. The “download” option is available to users on the left-side menu of the ebook platform for every title purchased by an institution; if subscribing to titles, this feature will not be visible.

InfoBase offers additional options: its collections for subscription contain more than 3,700 titles for middle and high schools, more than 1,800 titles for academic institutions, and more than 3,700 titles for public libraries.

Titles sampled for this review include Poets of World War I (parts one and two), Bloom’s Major Poets; World War I, Eyewitness History; World War I Almanac: Almanacs of American Wars; World War I and the Roaring Twenties 1914–1928: Discovering U.S. History; and World War I, Revised Edition: America at War.

USABILITY The interface is user-friendly, and navigation throughout each session is intuitive and easy, a plus when it comes to ebook formats. The system allows cross-searching all of the ebooks an institution has purchased (or subscribed to), so that a topic such as World War I can be placed in content and explored within various subject areas (history, literature, and politics and government). The downside is that searching is not very sophisticated; phrase searching appears to be ignored and “Help” does not go into any great detail. Simple keywords work best: “flu,” “casualties,” “U-boat.”

We started with a basic search for “Argonne” across all titles, just to test the interface; advanced search is also an option. The search results display in brief form, with the page numbers where the term was found and a snippet of each passage that includes the term. If cross-searching, users can filter results by title or subject and sort by title or relevance. Once a title is selected, one can “search inside” with additional terms and quickly jump to relevant sections. Each title can be browsed by page, and the most effective option is scanning the index or linked table of contents. Results are listed by relevance, so the first record from our query displayed the chapter “Into the Argonne” from World War I, Revised Edition. Our search also retrieved a chronology from World War I, Eyewitness History that included the entry “The African-American U.S. 369th Regiment, integrated into a French unit, fights in the Argonne.”

Features allow users to print, email, and save pages; link to a specific ebook, chapter, or page; register for personal accounts to use “My Bookmarks” (to create and save bookmarks and notes); and download entire books for use with numerous ereaders or as PDF files on a Mac or PC. Each book provides a citation format for Chicago, APA, or MLA style.

PRICING Ebook pricing for individual schools is the same as the list price of the print book; for districts and academic institutions, pricing is determined by full-time enrollment; for public libraries, it is determined by number of cardholders.

VERDICT As far as ebook platforms go, this one gets high marks. When we wanted to print a particular page, the system actually printed the correct page! Downloading worked great and navigation throughout each book was hassle-free. Searching is not the most sophisticated, but the platform is an effective way to introduce ebook content suitable for all user types, and the InfoBase website offers a nice grade range option, so purchasing can easily be limited to the desired user population.

eshort takes


The First World War Personal Experiences
The First World War Propaganda and Recruitment
The First World War Visual Perspectives and Narratives Adam Matthew Digital



CONTENT The First World War Portal (recently named “best database” by LJ readers) will soon include three primary-source collections. The collections that are currently available are Personal Experiences, drawn from archives around the world, with diaries, letters, postcards, and scrapbooks as well as other materials on daily life and routines in the army and auxiliary services, conditions in the trenches, food, battles, weapons, death, and more; and Propaganda and Recruitment, with sources on recruitment, training, morale, public opinion, censorship, and the development of different forms of propaganda during the First World War, including German and Russian propaganda leaflets, pamphlets, newspaper articles, recruiting posters, photographs, cartoons, and scrapbooks.

A 360° object viewer enables users to manipulate objects such as helmets, grenades, and field caps. It’s also possible to explore virtual panoramic views of the British tunnel systems, shelters, and trench systems area of the Sanctuary Wood Museum, a farm area that was preserved as it was in 1918; explore themes and personal accounts in categories such as combat, women at war, and artillery; and read essays by the editorial board, which provide contextual information on the primary material included.

Visual Perspectives and Narratives, to be published this summer, will offer primary-source material from the holdings of the Imperial War Museums in London, with custom-built interactive maps to display a narrative of the war. This third module will be fully integrated into the portal in the same way the current two collections are, and users will be able to filter the documents by module. This collection will include photographs, film clips (covering the duration of the war and numerous international forces), and primary documents.

American History in Video Alexander Street Press

World History in Video

CONTENT American History in Video, “the largest and richest collection of video available online for the study of American history,” includes more than 100 videos covering the World War I and Jazz Age era (1914–1928). World History in Video is global in scope, covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. Both collections allow users to analyze historical events, and their presentation over time, through commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and important documentaries. A sampling of relevant titles includes Secrets of World War I; Outbreak of the First World War; The Last Day of World War One; World War 1: American Legacy; World War I Patriotic Cartoons; America in the 20th Century: World War I; and Red Cross: World War I Activities.

Both collections are now available via the “History in Video” landing page. They still have the same great video content but now with an improved interface that allows institutions to search content across discipline- and genre-based landing pages, with featured content and “editorially curated” playlists. The titles come from leading video content producers such as PBS, California Newsreel, Bullfrog Films, Documentary Educational Resources, and the History Channel.

New features include faceted browsing capabilities, a new video player and toolbar that lets users choose among multiple layouts and bookmark their place in a video, and bit-rate streaming that automatically adjusts to the highest-quality file the user’s bandwidth can support. Users can easily create, annotate, and share audio clips.

America: History and Life with Full Text

Historical Abstracts with Full Text EBSCO Information Services

CONTENT America: History and Life with Full Text, known as the “definitive” bibliographic reference tool for research of U.S. and Canadian history, provides indexing for nearly 1,800 journals in the discipline as well as state and local history publications, conference proceedings, and content from scholarly journals in the social sciences and humanities. The resource includes full-text coverage for nearly 260 journals and more than 80 ebooks. Additional features include coverage for some titles back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, searchable cited references for more than 450 key titles, and chronological indexing and the ability to limit searches chronologically.

Historical Abstracts with Full Text is an authoritative database with selective indexing of historical articles from more than 2,600 key journals in over 40 languages. Coverage is of the world excluding the United States and Canada, from 1450 to the present, with a focus on world history, military history, women’s history, the history of education, and more. The database provides access to the full text of more than 400 journals and 140 ebooks, as well as searchable cited references for nearly 520 titles.

In addition to standard search features, both databases allow for searching by time period, a major advantage given the extensive range of coverage. Combined, the resources, which are cross-searchable for complete coverage of significant events, also offer nearly 500 full-text journals and more than 200 ebooks not available in full text in any version of EBSCO’s Academic Search. Titles include: War in History; Journal of Military History; Historian; and Nationalities Papers.

World History in Context

U.S. History in Context Gale Cengage Learning

CONTENT Together—since users can cross-search if they have a subscription to both—World History in Context and U.S. History in Context offer a complete overview of U.S. and world history that encompasses the most-studied events, issues, and current information. Content includes documents from Primary Source Microfilm’s digital archives, articles from classic Macmillan, Reference USA, and Charles Scribner’s Sons references, and other Gale proprietary content such as country and era overview information and full-text periodicals and journals. Both resources include historical maps, atlases, and other editorially selected images.

Users browse a list of preselected topics. Material for “World War One” includes monograph content; newspaper and magazine articles; select articles from Gale Reference titles such as Encyclopedia of Russian History, Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism Since 1450, and Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction; academic journals such as American History, The Historian, Journal of World History, History Review, and Commonweal; Primary Source titles such as World War I and the Jazz Age, Human and Civil Rights: Essential Primary Sources, and “World War One Propaganda Posters” from World War I Reference Library. Most featured content includes images, audio files, and video clips from NPR, NBC, and other authoritative sources. Select articles in both products come from new Gale reference titles not previously available.

Customization options include U.S. History in Context and World History in Context search widgets to embed into websites, Facebook, or iGoogle sites.

Gail Golderman ( is Electronic Resources Librarian and Bruce Connolly (connollb@union.ued) is Reference & Bibliographic Instruction Librarian, Schaffer Library, Union College, Schenectady, NY

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