Published Date

May 1, 2004

This resource was developed in 2004 as part of “The Conquest of Mexico” by Nancy Fitch.

The World Wide Web consists of millions of computers connected together via telephone lines and fiber optic cable. It allows the user to communicate with other users via the Internet and to transfer files from one machine to any other machine on the vast global network. To facilitate these transfers, web browsers (Netscape and Internet Explorer) have implemented the idea of hypertext. A hypertext file is a file which consists of visible links to other files. When one clicks on the link, one immediately moves to the linked file, regardless of where it is located. One can read it, print it, or save it to a local or personal computer hard disk even though the file may have originated on a computer in China. One can also bookmark the file, so that he or she can easily find it again. In short, when you click on a linked entry (one which is underlined), you will move to another computer, where a file rests with additional material on the subject that you clicked on in the Table of Contents.

If you are on this page, you probably understand what “clicking” on a link means. Your mouse has two buttons. When you drag the mouse over an underlined item (which means there is something to link to), a small hand will appear. When the hand appears, you should click the mouse using the left-mouse button. Immediately, an hourglass should appear, while the computer tries to find the computer address to which you are linking. It will access the file so that it can be retrieved on your computer. If nothing happens, or the hourglass does not appear, try again. The best thing to do is to try again and again until it works. After the hourglass appears, you will see a message at the bottom of the screen that says “remote host connected, waiting for reply.” This means that you got to the linked site and your computer is now waiting for the file to be sent to you. Eventually, material will appear on the screen, and you will note a lot of activity at the bottom of the screen. This is all very normal. When you see the words “Document Done,” at the bottom of the screen, the file is now on your computer. Please keep in mind that people often do fancy things with graphics. The graphics files can sometimes take a long time to load, especially with a slow modem. Just be patient. As the material is downloaded onto your computer, more and more will appear on the screen, and eventually, the words Document Done will appear at the bottom of the screen.

How does the computer know where to go?

All files with material that is available via the World Wide Web are identified with a unique Uniform Resource Locator or URL. A URL looks something like this: This link tells your web browser (Netscape Navigator or the Internet Explorer), to go to my World History since 1500 home page. Note that URLs are very case sensitive and must be typed out exactly as they are written.

Do I need to worry about URLs?

Not necessarily. The URLs for links to primary sources have already been entered. You merely need to drag the mouse over the links, click on the link, and your web browser will take you to the appropriate site.

I have found all kinds of interesting materials on the web, but now I am lost. What do I do?

An easy way to get back to where you started from is to click on the Back key at the upper left hand of either Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. Good web page designers also try to help with you navigation. Try scrolling either to the top or to the bottom of the web page. It is possible that you will see an icon, which will allow you to go Home, which would be the first page of the site you linked to.

I have been sitting here waiting for a page to be transferred, but I need to quit now, what do I do?

Sometimes sites are very slow to respond, especially if they are located in other countries. If you try them again at another time, you will find the response time much better. I have found that almost always when something is taking a long time to load, there is a problem. Often if you click Stop (the red light) in the upper right of Netscape and Internet Explorer, then click on the link again, it will work fine. Often if you get no response, the problem is at the other end. Try again at another time. It is also possible that the site was moved or taken down. All of these links were active (they would produce information), when this web site was put up, but URLs frequently change for a variety of reasons.

What if I see something I really like and want to remember it?

When the file appears, click on Bookmark in Netscape Navigator or on Favorites in Internet Explorer, and then click on add bookmark or add to favorites. When you want to view the file again, click on Bookmark or Favorites to open them, and you will see a list of identifying names. If you don’t see the file you want, click on More Bookmarks, which will give you an extended list to look at. To open a file in Bookmarks, double-click the left mouse button on the filename. To open a file in Favorites, click the left mouse button on the filename.

I got a message saying “Java script error,” what do I do?

You may not need to do anything. Some of these sites will generate that message but otherwise work fine. Just click okay and pretend you never saw it.

What if I get a message saying I need a plug-in?

Plug-ins should not be necessary for any of the sites that are linked to here. However, web authors are always trying to improve their pages, so they sometimes add new features. A plug-in is a special little program that will allow you to listen to music or watch short videos on your computer. If you decide you want the plug-in, you will usually get directions on how to get it. Plug-ins are fun and will expand your World Wide Web options.

Material is showing up on my screen, but I cannot see how it is related to what I clicked on, and there does not seem to be any new places to click?

Many web pages have introductory pages that consist of graphics only. If you move the mouse around the screen, you see the hand appear on specific spots. These are hot spots and work just like the clicks that are text-based. You click on the hot spot, and it will link to another file or website. Sometimes, you might just see images. These are clickable images, which means that if you click on them, they will take you to a new file or website. Study the images carefully for information on where they might lead you next.

I linked to a page that looks like nothing more than a list of links, what should I do now?

What you have linked to is a gopher page. Click on any of the underlined file names and it will link to the file that is named. At one time gophers were one of the only ways to move effectively from site to site over the Internet. Browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer have eliminated the need for gopher pages by making it possible to design very attractive pages that essentially do what gophers do much more intuitively. But the gophers will still get you to different places on the web and retrieve information for you.

What do I do when I get a message saying that the link is missing or invalid or not found?

Most of the links on this website are to well-established sites of document collections that are not likely to disappear soon. But sometimes the person who mounts a website changes his or her institutional affiliation and takes the website along. Sometimes, sites become so large, they are moved to larger servers, and the move results in a new URL. Usually, you will get a forwarding address. However, sometimes sites simply disappear. If you find the site is gone, it probably is. If you have typed in a URL to reach the site, it may be that you have a capital letter where you need a small one or vice-versa. URLs are very case sensitive and must be typed in exactly.

How should I use this material?

There are many ways students or professors can use the supplemental material available on the World Wide Web. In many instances, the full texts of documents are present on the sites that are linked to. Collectively, these websites provide a variety of sources that touch on subjects barely covered in traditional source books. Taking advantage of the integrative world history approach the authors employ, professors might want to have students compare the histories of Herodotus and Sian Qian. One can download, or move the page to a permanent place on the hard drive of one’s own computer by using the “save as” command and giving the file a name and location. One can also print the file by either clicking the print button or by clicking on file, then print. If your screen appears to be divided into boxes, it was probably designed using frames. If the file is in frames, you are better off clicking on file and then print frame, which will print the frame you are currently in. Please keep in mind that you should be careful about copyright violations whenever you download or print anything from the web. Some material is placed on the web to be used; other material is explicitly covered by copyright laws. Except where specifically noted, most of the primary sources on the web are not copyright protected and are in the public domain, but use good judgement here and do not just assume that because it is on the web, it is in the public domain.

Another way to use the material is to connect to the web site during a class. With appropriate connections and a LCD projector attached to a computer, you could use the on-line art and maps in the classroom to enhance instruction. Similarly, you could bring up texts and ask students to discuss specific portions of them in class.

If I am writing a paper using material that I found on the web, how do I cite it in my bibliography?

Proper citation is as important with material from the web as it is when you use other primary and secondary sources. Unfortunately, there is little consensus on the appropriate way to footnote electronic information. These are some suggestions taken from a variety of web sites and listservs that have treated the topic. They are designed to be consistent with Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). Turabian makes some references to the citation of electronic information, but the manual was published before Netscape and the Internet Explorer made large numbers of documents, articles, and books easily available from the Internet. As is the case with all footnotes, the purpose is to allow other readers to find the material upon which an argument is based. Therefore, one should provide the reader with as much information as possible without overwhelming him or her with unnecessarily complicated web addresses. Note that because of the ephemeral nature of material on the web, I have included the date on which the material was accessed at the end of the citation. You can find the URL either in the “Location Bar” in Netscape or Internet Explorer or at the top of the page of any pages you print from the web.


Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Richard Crawley, originally written in 431 B.C.E.. [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Article in a Book:

Sima Qian, “The Legalist Policies of the Qin,” from Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang, Records of the Historian (Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 1974), pp. 170-72, 177-78. [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Article written for the web:

Mark Isaak, “Flood Stories from around the World,” in “The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy, 1996-1997.” [Available Online]: [16 July 1998]

Mark Alford, “Black Athena: The Pre-Greek Roots of Western Culture,” 1997. [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Plays and Long Poems:

“Hymns from the Rig Veda” [Available Online]: <https://www.wsu:8080/~wldciv/wor…er/world_civ_reader_1/rig_veda.html> [16 July 1998]

Material Generated by Special Projects:

“Islam and Indigenous African Culture,” from “The Baobab Project Narratives.” [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Historical Documents:

“The North Atlantic Treaty, Washington D.C., April 4, 1949.” [Available Online]: gopher:// [16 July 1998]

“The Wannsee Protocol, January 20, 1942,” as reproduced in John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes, Vol. 11: The Wannsee Protocol (New York, Garland, 1982), 18-32. [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Sometimes the online source will provide the citation:

Online Catasto Citation Instructions: David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, Census and Property Survey of Florentine Domains in the Province of Tuscany, 1427-1480. Machine readable data file. Online Catasto of 1427 Version 1.1. Online Florentine Renaissance Resources: Brown University, Providence, R.I., 1996. [I would suggest putting the URL after the recommended citation: <>]

Jim Zwick, “‘The White Man’s Burden’ and Its Critics,” in Jim Zwick, ed., Anti-Imperialism in the United States, 1898-1935. (July 1996).

[Note, the Jim Zwick example is an interesting case. Zwick has put together an impressive online manuscript, Anti-Imperialism in the United States, 1898-1935. “‘The White Man’s Burden’ and Its Critics” is an essay included within the online manuscript. Taking advantage of hypermedia, Zwick’s site contains verbatim copies of newspaper articles and scanned copies of cartoons that he used in this manuscript. He put all of the material on the web himself as part of his manuscript. Thus, if one were to use one of his newspaper articles, the proper citation would read: “The Black Man’s Burden,” The London Speaker, March 1903, from Jim Zwick, “‘The White Man’s Burden’ and Its Critics,” in Jim Zwick, ed., Anti-Imperialism in the United States, 1898-1935. (July 1996).]

Works of Art

A Buddhist stupa, from “A Walk Through Mohenjo-daro.” [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Honoré Daumier, “L’exposition universelle,” The University of Montana Museum of Fine Arts Daumier Print Directory. [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]

Sound Recordings:

Douglas MacArthur, “Officiates Surrender of Japan,” from “The History Channel: Great Speeches: Hear the Words that Changed the World.” [Available Online]: <> [16 July 1998]