Content is the essential element of any Web resource. The staff of the Naval Historical Center has done an outstanding job of providing content by creating a website rich with primary material, as well as bibliographies and other research guides. Lycos gives the center a score of 78, out of a possible 100, for content. From the viewpoint of a librarian (and Navy veteran), the score should be higher.
The site is organized in an easily navigable hierarchy, with the "Welcome Aboard" homepage laying out the resources of the site. Going deeper, one finds the text of "A History of the U.S. Navy," from Encyclopedia of the American Military. The Center provides an index of operational archives, links to the homepages of historical ships such as the USS Constellation, and the digitized version of Naval Aviation News, the Navy's oldest periodical. The bi-monthly journal is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF), and holdings start with November-December 1996. There is a "frequently asked questions" (FAQ) section covering such topics as Amelia Earhart, Lieutenant George Bush, and the disappearance of Flight 19. The site also provides plenty of trivia, such as Navy recipes.
One surprising part of the site is the subject of underwater archaeology. The Center conducts ongoing research into Navy wrecks, such as that of the CSS Alabama. Other unexpected pleasures include images from the Navy Art Gallery and a link to the online catalog of the 200,000 volume Navy Department Library.
Researchers will probably find the detailed master bibliography the most useful section of the site. The bibliography was created with distant users in mind: most of the 450 books can be found in college or university libraries. It is broken down into such subheadings as "Expeditions and Exploration" and "Quasi-War with France and Barbary Wars." Scholars will also be interested in the Center's fellowships and grants, the requirements of which are given.
The Center has created a content-rich, friendly resource that
deserves to be bookmarked not only by Navy buffs, but anyone with an
interest in United States history.
Business Bibliographer/Reference Librarian
Chester Fritz Library
University of North Dakota