Published Date

January 1, 2004

From Teaching Difficult Legal or Political Concepts: Using Online Primary Sources in Writing Assignments (2004)

Located at
Reviewed by Sue Patrick

The Hanover Historical Texts Project makes primary texts readily available for use in history and humanities courses. Near the top of the site is a listing of eight major categories. One category is Europe, which is subdivided into Ancient, The Middle Ages, Early Modern, and Modern. A second category is the United States, which is subdivided into 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The remaining sections are The Americas Outside the U.S., Africa, The Middle East, India and South Asia, East Asia, and the History of Hanover College. All the documents are in English originally or in English translations. In many cases the electronic documents are excerpts of larger works. In several places, the site lists works that are not yet linked but that are “in progress.”

The earliest parts of the Europe section are not extensive. Europe: Ancient contains selections from ten pre-Socratic Greek philosophers. The section on medieval Europe begins with 12 letters from Crusaders. It also contains part of “Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend.”

The Europe: Early Modern section of the site begins with the Renaissance and continues through 1689. The site has works by Petrarch and Vergerius for the Renaissance. For the Reformation it has selections related to Luther, religious practices in Geneva, Servetus, and “The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent.” Under the heading of Religious Wars, the site lists “An Account of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day” and “An Account of the Destruction of Magdeburg.” There are 12 selections (dating from 1437 to 1689) under The Witch Hunts. For the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, the site has excerpts from Bacon and Voltaire. The final two parts of this section cover 17th-century French political developments and British religious history from 1512 to 1689.

Europe: Modern begins with the French Revolution and continues to the Russia Revolution. There are 11 documents under the French Revolution, making it the largest subcategory in this section. Other documents or topics included are “The Carlsbad Decrees (1819),” Manzzini and nationalism, the 1848 Revolution in France, Bismarck and German unification, “The Gotha Program (1875),” and “The Erfurt Program (1891).” The information on the Russian Revolution contains only three dispatches to the U.S. secretary of state dated March 1917.

The documents related to the United States range from 1630 to 1772. Most of them concern 16th-century Massachusetts. Only one document by Sam Adams resides in the 18th-century subheading, and none are listed under the 19th or 20th centuries.

The remaining categories (outside Europe and the United States) contain far fewer documents. The Americas Outside the U.S. contains only one work in progress. Africa lists only “Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life (1789).” The Middle East and India and Southeast Asia have no documents in them. East Asia contains only three documents, all related to Japan: “The Diary of Lady Sarashina (1009-1059)” and the constitutions of 1889 and 1949. The History of Hanover College includes four documents from 1826 to 1900.

The Hanover Historical Texts Project is only one link in a larger site called the Internet Archive of Texts and Documents that is also maintained by the Hanover College History Department. This larger site contains links to considerably more documents, but the ones not indicated in the review above are archived on other computers and may be discussed in other site reviews.

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