26 Jan 2019

Accessing Shared Research Websites for Free!

One of the best things about doing research for my science books is finding resources online that are useful for surprising varieties of book projects.

For instance, when writing about a French explorer from 1790, it's important to be historically accurate. It was wonderful to find a website for the David Rumsey Map Collection, which has over 150,000 historical maps from the 16th century through to the 21st century. There are the maps I needed. There are explorers' maps as well as present-day geological surveys, subway diagrams, and topographical charts galore. This Webby Award-winning website even has a Children's Maps section with over 200 examples!

Another project I'm working on is about my own family history. There are so many useful things to be found on Canadiana. This website has three digital libraries for anyone who is interested in Canada's history in documents. The first is Canadiana Online, which has over 1.7 million pages of historical government publications, as well as a wide range of newspapers and journals, and historical writings. The second is Heritage, which is a program to make accessible some of Canada's most popular archival collections, with sections on military history, genealogy, aboriginal history, and more. Early Canadiana is the third digital library, with full texts of books, magazines, and government documents. So far I've found relatives listed on Canada's 1921 census, and am looking through military records. The best part? As of January 1,  2019, access is free and all content is available with no charge to users.

It seems trivial to be learning about seagulls, but there are so many of them near my island home, and I'd like to know more about them. Some fly here from far away, some live here all the time. And now there's a Gull Identification Guide that I've downloaded.
There's no need to print it out to take to the beach. The important facts are basic: most gulls look pretty similar, and the young gulls are dark grey instead of white with grey wings. As the author John Muir Laws says, "The subtle distinctions between species sometimes do not even matter to the gulls themselves." Even gulls don't worry who is a herring gull and who is a glaucous-winged gull, so I won't either. But I will take time to look at the rest of his website on Nature Stewardship Through Science, Education, and Art. His drawings are wonderful and he has some terrific blog posts on sketching natural objects!

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