The quality of the available web sites on the period of American history known as The Reconstruction varies greatly. Two of the sites were clearly designed as teaching aids, one was a site directed as an African-American history teaching aid and one was a history of the era from a Southerner’s point of view. All had different styles, but provided essentially the same information about the era. The fifth site, written by a professor from the University of Chicago, was the only site that was of questionable use.
“African-American Odyssey: Reconstruction and its Aftermath” is more focused on the African-American history after the Civil War and seems geared toward an audience studying that aspect of history. The site is more cultural than others, with a look at the every day lives of Freedmen after the war, and the effect the Reconstruction had on their residential choices. This site is rather plain in it’s formatting, with a simple scroll down needed to get to new information, but the visuals are high-impact primary source reproductions of African-American events in the era,
Another site, simply titled “Reconstruction” is the site maintained by the Library of Congress and talked about the Reconstruction as a period of punishment for the Rebels in the South. This site had beautiful graphics and a nice historical timeline at the top of the page so that students can related the Reconstruction to other American history events, but the actual information about the era is minimal. “American Experience/Reconstruction: The Second Civil War” is by far the most professional of these sites. This is a site built and maintained by the Public Broadcasting System to accompany its documentaries about the era.
The site features rollover photographs that link to multiple, topic-based pages. It has links to primary source materials and a teacher’s guide to give teachers suggestion on how to discuss the material in the classroom. At a site called Civil War Home, the information on the Reconstruction is a primary source document. The text comes from the diaries of Southerners who lived through the period and includes their comments on the war and its aftermath. One man calls the death of Abraham Lincoln “the worst thing that could have happened to the South.
” The site itself is very simple, black text on a white background and links to additional pages at the bottom of the text blocks. It includes a disclaimer at the beginning of the page that it is largely unedited and not politically correct. The most useless of the five sites was a site titled “American Reconstruction: People and Politics after the Civil War. ” This site makes it appear that the webmaster was more interested in form than function, making broad generalizations about the Reconstruction and the Civil War that border on inaccurate.
For example, it claims the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves. Several pages later it clarifies this inaccurate statement, but by then many internet browsers will have already lost interest Of the five websites, the most useful are the PBS site, the Africa-American Odyssey site and the Civil War Home site. The PBS site is also the most accomplished as a web design. The other two very useful sites are plain, but contain good information.
The Library of Congress sponsored site is flashy, but not terribly useful and the other site suffers from historical inaccuracies and simple formatting errors, like a text overlay onto a photo, making the text difficult to read. Here are the titles and addresses for the sites that were critiqued:
1) African-American Odyssey: Reconstruction and Its Aftermath www. memory. loc. gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart5. html 2) American Experience/Reconstruction: The Second Civil War www. pbs. org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction 3) American Reconstruction: People & Politics After the Civil War www. digitalhistory. uh. edu/rev/index. html 4) Reconstuction www.civilwarhome.com/reconstruction.htmlSample Essay of RushEssay.com