Finding history through the Web

9:42:20 AM CDT - Thursday, April 08, 2004

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

If you're trying to trace your family history or want to read some history written with creative flair, you can do so with a few clicks of a computer mouse on the WSU Libraries Web site.

HeritageQuest Online, which contains federal census information and more than 25,000 family and local histories, and the venerable reference works of World Book Encyclopedia are among the latest electronic databases to be added to the WSU Libraries Web page at library.wichita.edu.

Other recent additions are full-text access to WSU dissertations and complete information from leading nursing publications through ProQuest Nursing Journals.

The new databases on the WSU Libraries page are IP-controlled, meaning they can be accessed on campus through WSU computers. Current Shocker ID-holders also can access the databases through remote access, using their ID card and personal identification numbers.

Any Kansan, however, can access the HeritageQuest and World Book databases with a state library card because they are offered through the KAN-ED network and the state library system.

The Board of Regents formed the KAN-ED network to comply with a state law that called for Kansans to have increased access to digital technology. The Kansas Library Card is the tool that unlocks all those databases offered by KAN-ED.

Kansans can apply in person at a public library to get the Kansas Library Card. The card provides a PIN that allows the cardholder to log into the system. (For more on the card, go to www.kslc.org/faq.jsp.)

Through HeritageQuest Online, you can view actual federal census records from 1790 through 1930. Not all the images of the records have been loaded, but several years' worth have been added, making it a fun adventure to sleuth for family records. Early census data recorded such information as whether citizens could speak English, read or write.

Basic searches can be done by using surnames, census years and state. Use the advanced search function and you can search by place of birth, age, ethnicity and other variables.

If facts, figures and history are your fancy, World Book Online offers plenty of resources. There are full-text articles, information on current events, information on recently deceased notables, and today-in-history tidbits.

If you're looking for history presented with some flair and creativity, be sure to check out the site's Surf the Ages feature. The section uses e-zine formats, ads and other types of simulated Web sites, written from the perspective of the time.

Under The Hippodrome News link in the Middle Ages, for example, you can read The Hipp View to find out about the Hippodrome, Constantinople's ancient horse racetrack. There's a simulated Web site for The Conquerors Institute, advertising its most popular seminar, "Leadership Secrets of William, the Conqueror." Participants will learn various tactics and strategies, including how to marry off sons and daughters to establish strategic alliances.

World Book Online also offers a Kansas Resources link, with information on Kansas people, places, symbols and the like. It also provides assignment topics for research work. If your out-of-state friends and family still haven't figured out how to pronounce Wichita, direct them to the Wichita link on this page: It includes the city's pronunciation through RealPlayer.

To access HeritageQuest, World Book Online and other electronic databases, go to the University Libraries homepage through the wichita.edu site, click on Electronic Databases, and click on the By Title link. An alphabetical listing of all the databases will pop up.

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