Have I mentioned how much I love online content?  No?  Well, I do!  And when that content is both intelligent and presented in a useful and adaptable manner I feel like a kid with a quarter in a penny candy shop.  I have a new love.

The comprehensiveness of this resource is awesome.  From warfare in ancient Greece and Rome to American theatre, from literary criticism to science, from philosophy to food, from music and music theory to political thought, this series goes beyond the “traditional” bounds of history.

But then, everything has a history, so don’t be surprised by the vast number and scope of the individual volumes in the new e-resource Cambridge Histories Online (CHO).

CHO homepage

You could just dive in from the quick search box and search for, say, “pizza,” and scan the 15 results.  They are as diverse as food and nutrition (obvious), American foreign relations (where Pizza Huts and McDonald’s are symbols of American culture exported to Russia), and language (where the use of the German suffix -burger has been generalized in American culture so that it no longer denotes a place: Hamburg(er) – but a style of food: pizzaburger).

However, since Baylor subscribes to the  complete Cambridge Histories Online (more than 70 titles in the series with over 250 individual volumes), I’d recommend that you search for your topic but not jump right in to any of the articles you may find.  Instead, take a look at the results in the right-hand pane which will list the categories and the series titles which have results for your term.  Let me demonstrate.

Right now, many students are looking for information on the current economic crisis.  But a quick look at the information timeline in our online tutorial will clue you in that it might be difficult to find scholarly research (articles or books) on this topic yet.  So do you drop your topic?  Not at all!  You can find scholarly material on past economic crises and compare what happened in the past to the current events or proposed solutions.  Here’s where the CHO will come in handy.  A search for economic crisis from the quick search screen gets you over 2,000 results.  To narrow the topic look at the Refine Search pane on the right and see if there is a more relevant volume from the series collection:

CHO Sidebar Series

And, indeed, there is, four actually. Of these, The Cambridge Economic History of the United States and The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain might both be reasonable places to start (note the list above is ranked by number of hits, so these two volumes with 21 and 30 hits, respectively, aren’t showing in the sample).

Clicking on the title of The Cambridge Economic History of the United States takes you to a list of chapter titles in that volume where the terms “economic” and “crisis” appear.  At this point, your term or terms may not appear in the brief snippet you’ll see.  You can click on the chapter title to get a view of the opening paragraphs – and may still not see the terms you typed in.  Click on the view full chapter button to see the entire chapter as a pdf:

CHO View Full Chapter Button

Here’s one of the places where CHO is nicely designed – you get the option to  view the entire chapter with or without highlighting.  You can also see some of the bibliography (which is part of each chapter in CHO) and you note that the BU Infolinks button is there so you can see if we own the book/journal.

Two last nice touches.  Sign up for a free account and you can save the chapters you are interested in to your personal account so you don’t have to keep searching for the same item all the time.  Then get your friends and colleagues at Baylor to sign up because with a personal account you can create workgroups – spaces where you can save material and invite others to see it, too.  Great for group work, collaborative projects, or interactive assignments where you want all members of the group to find a relevant piece of information and contribute it to the whole group.