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History in Focus

the guide to historical resources • Issue 4: War •


Holocaust memorial, Paris

The Holocaust Memorial, Paris


The following sites are a small sample of the websites on war that are available. Museums and archives also have websites with information about war. You will find a listing of these on the more resources page. You can also use intute to locate other websites.

Some history gateways provide links to material relating to the history of war. An excellent starting point for locating history web sites is by searching on Intute. Intute provides fully evaluated and annotated links to quality history web sites. The IHR, as part of the History On-Line project, evaluates history web sites for Intute and it is these descriptions, together with records from other Intute contributors, that appear below.

People: Armies, Civilians, Refugees

The Valley of the Shadow

The Valley Project is published by the University of Virginia and was one of the first projects ever undertaken by the Institute for advanced Technology in the Humanities. Created by a team of distinguished academics, it looks at two communities, one Northern and one Southern, during the American Civil War and during the antebellum and postbellum periods. It is a digital archive of thousands of sources relevant to the two communities of Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania during one of the most important periods of American history. It provides a wide range of sources, with newspapers, diaries, letters, photographs, maps, church records, population censuses, agricultural censuses and military records all available online for researchers and students to use, as well as reference material to aid those approaching the subject for the first time. It is currently comprised of two parts, Part I, The Coming of the War and Part II, The Civil War Years, with a third part on the Reconstruction era to follow. This web site has been designed with both academic researchers and students in mind and it encourages the use of the site as a teaching aid, offering several ideas of how to use it effectively when teaching history.

Voices of the Holocaust

In 1946, Dr. David Boder travelled from the United States to post-Second World War Europe in order to conduct interviews with survivors of the holocaust. Today, the resulting 100 plus audio recordings are a unique account of the twentieth centuries most horrific period not only for its historical and social importance, but because many of these records were made just shortly after the liberation with refugees in displaced persons camps scattered around Europe. Approximately two thirds of the interviews were transcribed and then translated into English and later published.

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) has collected Boder's work from 1946 along with the many of the interview documents, recordings and translations, and made them freely available on-line through the "Voices of the Holocaust". All the English transcriptions can be read on line and the recordings may be heard via a Real Audio player. The site already includes a collection of links to other related holocaust sites and IIT has plans to include additional maps and other papers from Boder's archives.

(Record courtesy of Intute - web site catalogued by Jeff Dubberly)

Women Come to the Front

This web site is the online version of an exhibition held by the Library of Congress on the subject of American women journalists, photographers and broadcasters who became recognised during the Second World War. It covers the experiences of eight women, including Dorothea Lange and Therese Bonney, who worked in a variety of capacities in the media during the war and whom experienced an unprecedented degree of professional opportunity as a result of the hostilities. It illustrates amply how the war helped to chip away at ideas of traditional gender roles, as women successfully took on employment in previously male dominated industries, but also how swiftly this changed at the close of the war. The exhibition provides facsimile images of articles, photographs and private papers and short biographies of each woman.

The We Were There Exhibition

The We Were There photographic exhibition was launched by the Ministry of Defence in November 2000, and details the history and experiences of ethnic minorities from the British Empire and the Commonwealth in the British Armed Forces over the past two hundred years. Men and women from all over the British Empire and Commonwealth are included, and while the focus is primarily on the First and Second World Wars, conflicts from the nineteenth century up until the late twentieth century are also covered. The exhibition does not just cover those who saw active service, but also those who worked in essential support services, such as medicine, transport, logistics and labour, and the funds and supplies that have been provided by individual countries in support of the war effort. There is also a section on the military decorations and medals awarded to personnel from the Empire and Commonwealth. This exhibition is a useful starting point for anyone wanting to find out more about the minorities who have served in the British Armed Forces, and provides a great deal of interesting information.

Spanish Civil War Remembered

This is a collection of interviews with some of the last surviving British men and women who volunteered for the International Brigades and fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. The piece was devised for Remembrance Day, and as well as the interviews it begins with good introductory information on the reason many foreign volunteers went to fight, and the place of the Spanish Civil War in European history. There are also links to some of the best web sites on the Spanish Civil War.

The Churchill Era

The Churchill Era is an educational web site published by the Churchill Archives Centre, and has been specially designed for teachers and students of A-Level History courses. The aim of the site is to easily enable the use of archive material in the classroom. The site is comprised of three sections, the main focus being the A’ Level Exercises section where there are several exercises using a range of primary source material - including photographs, letters, speeches and memorandum - with accompanying questions designed to encourage analysis of the source. In addition there is also a Background section, which is essentially a dictionary of relevant people, places and events providing basic reference information for those unfamiliar with particular terms, and there is also a Teachers section, which provides guidelines to those using the site for teaching purposes.

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Strategy & Policy

Clausewitz Home Page

This web site, compiled by Professor Christopher Bassford of the National College of War, is dedicated to the Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz. It contains a great number of resources with introductory information, images, articles, scholarly studies, bibliographies and the full text of two of his works, On War and Principles of War. Also available in full text is Christopher Bassford's book The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America 1815-1945, which is published in print by Oxford University Press. The web site can be browsed through the table of contents, or there is a keyword search facility. In addition to this there is a set of Frequently Asked Questions that helps those approaching Clausewitz and his theories for the first time, making it a useful resource for students and researchers as well as teachers.

Biological Weapons in the Twentieth Century A Review and Analysis

This is a substantial paper from a recent symposium on the threat of chemical and biological warfare, discussing the use of these kinds of weapons of mass destruction and the ways in which world leaders have tried to control them over the last century. Included is a brief history of the weapons used in the First and Second World Wars, a timeline, details of international treaties and arms control pacts, and information on the United Nations Security Council and its work to contain biological weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in many regions of the world.

Northern Wars

This web site deals with the wars that took place in Scandinavia during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, in particular the Northern and Scanian Wars. It provides a wealth of information on military history in this period, with details of armies, battles and campaigns, nations and their military development, and military paraphernalia such as flags and uniforms. It also features lists recommended reading and a comprehensive bibliography for Danish military history in this period. This site offers quite a traditional take on military history, and has a fairly narrow focus, but is well presented and nicely illustrated.

United Nations and Peacekeeping

The United Nations was founded by some of the world's leading nations with the aim of preventing war and preserving the rights of men and women worldwide. This site provides a comprehensive history of the United Nations, from its conception during the Second World War by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to its actions in the last decade of the twentieth century. Featured is a good biography of Roosevelt and his dedication to preventing war and hostilities around the world, and details of the Nuremberg trials, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the actions of the United Nations during and after the Cold War.

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American Women and the World War II Experience

This site, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provides print and web bibliographies on several areas of American women's experiences during the Second World War. The main focus is on auxiliary women's military service groups, with coverage of the various branches of the armed forces, Airforce, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and the Navy. Also included are bibliographies for the home front and for sources that provide information on the more general experiences of women in America during this time. This is not an absolutely comprehensive site, but it does offer a good starting point for research, and is easy to use and navigate.

War and Gender How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa

This is the web site of a Cambridge University Press published book of the same name. Written by Joshua S. Goldstein, Professor of International Relations at the American University, it discusses gender roles in warfare throughout history and why women have been so comprehensively excluded from combat. Whilst being something of an advertisement for Joshua S. Goldstein's book, this site provides the first chapter of the book in full text and excerpts from the other chapters. In addition there is also an article by Goldstein on gender and terrorism, and a bibliography of articles written on this subject. A useful web site on a subject that currently has little coverage on the Internet.

Military and War: Women's Roles

This is part of the History Net web site, and it offers links to a mixture of web sites and articles that provide a wealth of information on the role of women in military history, looking at women's participation in the armed forces, their work on the home front, and the effects war has on gender roles and relations. The focus is primarily on American women involved in conflicts during the twentieth century, although there are a handful of sections covering the female experience in other wars including the Crusades and the Mexican Revolution. The content is laid out so that it can easily be browsed, and there is also the option to search the site if you need to narrow down the number of results.

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Economies and War

The Independent Institute: Defense and Foreign Policy Archive

This is a combination of full text articles, book reviews and book excerpts on various aspects of defence and foreign policy in American history, with a substantial amount of material about the relationship between war and economics. Included are articles that look at the financial and economic cost of war, the foreign policy of economic warfare in the shape of trade sanctions, and post-war economic conditions. There are also articles on numerous aspects of American foreign policy and experiences of war. This web page was compiled by the Independent Institute, a non-partisan public-policy research and educational organisation, recognised for its standards of scholarly enquiry and for its non-biased approach to important social, economic, legal, and environmental issues.

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Modern China

This online history guide is taken from the Modern Civilisations web site, which was devised by a group of academics teaching at Washington State University for the purposes of web-based teaching and learning. This particular guide is concerned with Chinese history in the twentieth century, and provides well-written accounts of the major events, including the 1911 Revolution, the Japanese invasion and the Cultural Revolution. There are also good biographies of Chinese leaders, such as Sun Yat-sen. This web site is purely text-based, but as well as providing a good introductory history to Modern China, it also has suggested reading, a glossary and links to useful Internet resources.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution is a detail-rich web site. It is a collaboration of the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University) and the American Social History Project (City University of New York), that includes 12 topical essays, 250 images, 350 text documents, 13 song recordings (including "La Marseillaise"), 13 maps, a timeline, and a glossary. It is searchable by keywords, topics, and/or types of resources. The browse options trigger searches that result in sometimes confusing displays. Therefore, although the content is incredibly detailed the presentation would not be suitable as an introduction to the subject. However, this site does provide important documentary evidence from the Revolution on such topics as the Social Causes and, interestingly, areas not often mentioned in British curricula such as Slavery and the Haitian Revolution. A useful resource for Advanced level history and French studies, this will definitely add value to undergraduate and even postgraduate understanding of this complex period of French and European history.

(Record courtesy of Intute - web site catalogued by Alun Edwards)

The American Revolution

The American Revolution is a companion web site to PBS's television series Liberty! and was created by PBS and H-Net, Humanities and Social Sciences OnLine. A straightforward web site, it provides a range of resources for the study of the American Revolution. There are 16 full text articles on many aspects of the conflict, its origins, events and the effect on the people of America and Britain, a substantial bibliography, including one of selected articles from the William and Mary Quarterly, a collection of web resources, and the complete program notes for the 6 episodes in the series.

The Hungarian Revolution

Taken from the National Security Archive web site, this feature deals with the Revolution in Hungary in 1956, and is taken from the National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book series. Whilst this web site does not offer the complete full text of the book, it does provide a well-written introduction to the event, and access to the full text of 12 of the documents featured in the book. Here users can also find out about the other titles in the Electronic Briefing Book series and access documents on other world events, such as the Prague Spring in 1968.

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Cold War

The Cold War Museum

The Cold War Museum web site records the history of the people, places and events of the Cold War (circa 1946-1991 CE) to inform about the fears, divisions, and dangers that the Cold War fostered, and to promote interest in the creation of a permanent Cold War Museum facility. The Cold War Museum is affiliated to the Smithsonian. The site includes a discussion forum, a facility to search the web site and also browse through a timeline from the 1940s to 1990s. The resource is hyperlinked throughout so the section on the Korean War, for example, might be accessed from a number of points on the site. Online exhibits complement the travelling Cold War Museum exhibits. These include: the CIA; the DIA; Berlin Wall; patches collection; photo gallery; Cold War Museum Collection; reconnaissance aircraft; and 1998 U-2 declassification conference.

(Record courtesy of Intute - web site catalogued by Alun Edwards)

Cold War Policies

Cold War Policies charts the history of the Cold War, from the Yalta conference to the aftermath of the Cold War in the late 1990s. The content is arranged as a comprehensive narrative timeline with integrated links to full text documents, images, articles and web sites. Also included on the site are a bibliography of recent Cold War scholarship, a collection of maps, a list of relevant films and a selection of links to other sites that deal with the Cold War. The site is of a simple design and easy to navigate, and was created by Steven E. Schoenherr, Professor of History at the University of San Diego.

The Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact

This web site contains various declassified military research and planning documents written for NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries. The texts are mostly in English translation, and are prefaced with a short introduction explaining the background and purpose of the document in question. Many of the documents are concerned with the issue of nuclear war and the question of how to react to a nuclear attack. Some of the documents indicate the specific cities to be razed in such a strike. As well as the primary documents available here, there are also a number of secondary studies dealing with relations between the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union. Special collections include: the 1964 Warsaw Pact war plan; the 1965 war game exercise; Libya 1986; Bulgaria in the Warsaw Pact; the party leaders; and NATO military planning and threat analysis. The site is regularly updated with new material as it is declassified. A search engine allows researchers to quickly locate relevant documents. Adobe Acrobat is required to read many of the online documents. The site is better viewed with Internet Explorer rather than Netscape, which suffers from some occasional visual glitches.

(Record courtesy of intute - web site catalogued by Intute staff, with contributions from Dr. Michael Fraser)

National Security Archive

The National Security Archive is a non-government, non-profit institution that holds the largest archive of declassified U.S. foreign policy documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. Their web site provides a wealth of information about the collections they hold and publish, and it also offers the full text of some documents, through its online exhibitions, electronic briefing books and press releases on new documents. A wide range of Cold War primary source material can be found, and the range of countries covered is impressive, with documents on Central America, China, Japan, India, Pakistan, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Users can also search the archive indexes for content, and there is information and guidelines for researchers.

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Material Culture of War

The Poster War: Allied Propaganda Art of the First World War

This site is an exhibition of forty-six First World War propaganda posters. According to the brief introduction to the exhibit, the World War I was the first war in which governments used propaganda posters. The posters displayed often contain emotive images of the enemy, Allied soldiers and life on the home-front. Some of the more intriguing posters reveal the changing role of women during the war, others - in particular those exhorting people to buy war bonds - provide an insight into the economics of wartime.

(Record courtesy of Intute - web site catalogued by Stuart Allen)

Civil War Treasures

This site provides access to a collection of primary resource materials relating to the history of the American Civil War which have been taken from the archival holdings of the New York Historical Society. They include over 300 examples of recruiting posters and propaganda, 70 photographs and several hundred scanned drawings and writings from soldiers on both sides of the conflict. The site is fully searchable by subject keyword and a background essay sets the materials in historical context. It is made available on the Internet as part of the Library of Congress American Memory Project.

(Record courtesy of Intute - web site catalogued by Heather Dawson)

UK National Inventory of War Memorials

The Imperial War Museum and the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England established this inventory of war memorials in 1989, so that the war memorials of the First World War and other conflicts fought by the British would be recorded for posterity. Their database contains the records of around 54,000 war memorials in the United Kingdom and whilst the majority of these commemorate the First and Second World Wars, there are also memorials for older conflicts including the War of the Roses and English Civil War, and for the more recent wars in Korea and the Falklands. This site contains an informative history of war memorials in the UK, with reference to monuments of particular interest, information on the origins of the project and its progression, and contact details and information for researchers.

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Imperial War Museum web site

This is the web site of the Imperial War Museum, based in London. This immense online presentation includes details of the Museum's unique coverage of Twentieth Century conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth (from the First World War to the Gulf War and the present day), and is a portal to the Museum's further branches: Imperial War Museum Duxford; Cabinet War Rooms; HMS Belfast moored on the River Thames; and the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester. Visitor information is clearly presented, as are links to Museum services such as the "Collecting Group", the online shop, "Education", even "Battlefield Tours". The online exhibitions of the Imperial War Museum London are all accessible here, including many about World War I and the Second World War; also the Spanish Civil War, the Korean War, and the Falklands Conflict; the submarine; and interviews with the women who were living at, or involved with the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp in the 1980s. There is also a selection of images from the Photograph Archive. These online exhibitions reflect the range of resources and presentations on the Museum's web site as a whole, covering all aspects of life in wartime. From here information is provided about actual exhibitions including: the Imperial War Museum's Holocaust Exhibition (the story of the Nazis' persecution of the Jews and other groups before and during the Second World War); and "Anthem for Doomed Youth" a major exhibition relating to the poets of the Great War (including: Edmund Blunden; Rupert Brooke; Robert Graves; Julian Grenfell; Ivor Gurney; David Jones; Francis Ledwidge; Wilfred Owen; Isaac Rosenberg; Siegfried Sassoon; Charles Sorley; and Edward Thomas). Online Exhibitions about the history of the Great War (1914-1918) include: artist H S Williamson; Gallipoli 1915; extracts of oral history interviews held by the Museum's Sound Archive such as short accounts of soldiers in the trenches, the home front and women at war; and the "Lusitania medallion". For the Second World War exhibitions include: "Together" (African, Asian and Caribbean men and women); the Battle of Britain; the campaign in Burma; the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; the war artists Edward Ardizzone and Mervyn Peake; the factories and workers of Great Britain; codes in wartime, and how the German Enigma code was broken.

(Record courtesy of intute - web site catalogued by Alun Edwards

The Gulf War

This web site, a companion to the PBS series on the Gulf War, offers a range of sources and information on the Gulf War. Most impressively it features interviews with some of the key American and British who were involved, including Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and Margaret Thatcher, as well as world leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev and members of the Iraqi command. In addition to this included are accounts from military personnel of the battles, maps of the conflict, a chronology of events, information on the weapons and technology used, statistics, recommended reading and links to the BBC radio series Voices in the Storm.

De Re Militari: The Society for Medieval Military History

The web site of De Re Militari (the Society for Medieval Military History) makes available a collection of full text articles, both specially commissioned and reproduced from scholarly journals, together with selected chapters from monographs and postgraduate dissertations. These full text secondary sources are complemented by a bibliography of new and forthcoming works in the field and a series of book reviews. The site also includes primary source material for military historians of the middle ages, ranging from chronicle extracts (e.g. Howden and Orderic Vitalis) to royal writs and letters, a message board and details of forthcoming conferences and events.

(Record courtesy of intute - catalogued by the Institute of Historical Research

Documents in Military History

This site offers a collection of primary sources for military history. The collection is strongest in pre-twentieth-century European military history, but does also have material relating, for example, to the American Revolution and ancient Egypt. The records are broken down into categories, some wider than others, including 'Ancient History', 'The French Revolution' and 'Early Modern History'. The site offers a separate section for naval warfare. This general subject browsing is more successful than the keyword search offered. The source for each of the extracts and documents reproduced is cited at the end of each entry.

(Record courtesy of intute - web site catalogued by the Institute of Historical Research

Instruments and Treaties: Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict

This is a collection of primary source documents on the laws of war in the twentieth century, taken from the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. It includes articles of the Geneva Convention, declarations on the use of particular weapons, the decisions made at numerous conventions and the rules of warfare drawn up by particular nations. In addition to this there are links to other academic sites that cover the laws of war, and going to the home page of the Human Rights Library allows users to access the more than 10,400 documents on Human Rights worldwide that the library contains.

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