Digital Genres

Hello all! This week I’m reviewing four history websites: The Valley of the Shadow, the Yiddish Book Center, Gulag: Many Days Many Lives, and History Wired. Gulag: Many Days Many Lives and History Wired fall into the category of exhibit websites, the Yiddish Book Center is a teaching resource, and The Valley of the Shadow is an archive.




The Valley of the Shadow is an archive focusing on two communities–one Northern, one Southern–before, during, and immediately after the American Civil War. The information is split into three main categories: before, during, and after the Civil War with subcategories offering different types of resources. For example, you can find newspapers from both communities from before, during, and after the Civil War depending which of the main categories you picked. In order to access the newspaper you want, you would have to pick from one of the main categories, pick a PDF or transcription of a particular newspaper from one of the communities, and then pick which date you would like to see.

This may seem like a lot of clicking, but it makes it much easier to focus on a particular subject. The PDFs might make good images for a presentation, but are virtually illegible, both due to the size of the print (an entire newspaper page is one PDF) and the quality of some scans. The scans of the letters and diaries are of a much better quality, but it is still easier to read the transcriptions. There is a wide range of primary sources available in order to give as close as possible a complete picture of what life was like in the communities before, during, and after the Civil War.


The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit teaching resource for those who wish to know about Jewish heritage, language, culture, and modern identity. They offer literature in both Yiddish and English, a magazine, and various learning programs. The site is beautiful and well made with an adorable mascot, the klor vays tsigele (small white goat).

There are learning programs provided for high school students, college students, college graduates, teachers, and other adults. There are even programs for aspiring translators! The Yiddish Book Center has a wide variety of valuable resources, including a digital library in English and Yiddish.



And lastly, Gulag: Many Day Many Lives and History Wired are exhibits. Gulag focuses on the lives and experiences of people in the Soviet labor camps known as gulags from 1917 to 1988. The exhibits has sections about arrests, labor, suffering, propaganda, conflict, solidarity, guards, survival, the prisoners, and their ultimate fates. The information is presented in an easy to understand and is aesthetically pleasing. However, not everything works. It appears that there should be a video, but if so, it will not play.

History Wired is an exhibit that is no longer active. It was launched in 2001 and was retired this August. History Wired featured 450 objects at various levels of fame. The point of the site was to let the public examine objects from a museum’s holdings that was not necessarily being shown at the time in the museum itself. In some ways, it was also an archive of digital objects. But you could tell that it was from the early 2000s. Still, it is sad to see it go.



History Wired

Gulag: Many Days Many Lives

The Yiddish Book Center

The Valley of the Shadow


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