TITLE: The Avalon Project

ACCESS: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/avalon.htm

The Avalon Project was undertaken in 1996 by William Fray and Lisa Spar at Yale Law School. The objective is to provide access to digital records pertinent to the fields of history, economics, law, politics, diplomacy and government.

The collection of over 150 documents is divided into 5 categories: pre 18th Century Documents, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, and Major Collections. Examples of pre-18th Century documents include the Athenian Constitution, Laws of William the Conqueror, and the Constitution of Clarendon. Documents of the 18th Century range from Papers of James Madison to the Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793. The 19th and 20th Century Documents are extensive categories, with the 19th Century beginning to focus on trade issues and the 20th Century focusing on World War II and the creation of the United Nations. In addition, subheadings within time periods are provided, for example, Middle East Documents in the 20th Century category. An interesting feature is the range of documents, with some instantly recognizable and others more esoteric.

The "Major Collections" category contains sets of related documents, such as United States Statutes Concerning Native Americans, Franco-American Diplomacy, and Papers of the Confederate States of America. A budding collection of presidential papers will be useful when fully updated. A "What's New" site details works-in-progress, such as Texas Annexation Documents and papers of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Each document can also be accessed via the time period in which it was published.

Access is provided alphabetically within each time period, as well as via a title and author index to all documents. The site is easily navigated via a title bar, with tables of contents organized in attractive, straightforward tables. Anchors within long texts aid navigation. A search mechanism would be helpful as the site expands in scope. The Project digitizes printed texts, as well as converting the electronic resources of other institutions into HTML. Selected documents contain a glossary with the entries accessible via hypertext links, as well as cross-references between texts. Documents are included based on potential interest to the academic community, historical significance, and relevance to documents already part of the Project.

The Avalon Project is an example of how the Web can be used to augment the print collections of the library. Documents span a wide range of years, including an impressive array of early material. Undergraduate history and political science students wanting easily accessible primary source material will find this site particularly beneficial.

Britt Fagerheim
Graduate Reference Assistant
University of Washington


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