Dear Ellen Ryan,
I am writing to support Idaho State University’s acquisition of the Adam Matthew’s American Indian Histories and Cultures database. I see immediate applications for these materials in three courses I currently teach at ISU: “Native American History,” “The Historian’s Craft,” and “Colonial Frontiers.”
The American Indian Histories and Culture database offers a carefully curated collection of documents. Above all, it is user-intuitive, meaning that students will easily be able to navigate its content and pursue their own research interests and simultaneously foster curated collection of documents. Above all, it is user-intuitive, meaning that students will easily be able to navigate its content and pursue their own research interests and simultaneously foster twenty-first century research skills. The collection is brilliantly organized, and offers several search filters such as the document type, cultural group and geographic location.
I find that the most engaging and rewarding classroom lessons ask students to actually “do” history. In other words, students need more opportunities such as this one to dive into historical documents and try to make sense of them. For many students, this is often the most exciting type of exercise in the college classroom. And for some, it is the first time they begin to probe, question, and analyze as a historian. The database also has a clear advantage over comparable sites or published primary source collections owing to the size and scope of the project. First, it is a huge collection that will not “steer” students towards a “correct” set of answers or interpretation. Second, the collection covers the entire United States, with a particular strength in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
If ISU were to acquire this database I would most certainly use it wherever applicable in my classes, because it provides a reliable, hearty data set for students to work with independently. For example, in my introductory level classes, I would ask students to analyze a set of documents like a historian and answer the basic questions that every historian wants to answer, “Who wrote/created this source, when, where, why, and what is it’s significance?” In an upper-level history course, I would ask students to write a research paper using the website. The database facilitates classroom research projects because it houses the materials in one, easy to use location while allowing them to really grasp and appreciate the importance of primary source interpretation in a research paper, thereby equipping them to tackle future research projects in academia or the workforce.
For these reasons I strongly endorse the acquisition of the Adam Matthew’s American Indian Histories and Cultures database.
With warm regards,
Dr. Kathleen Kole de Peralta