As an extremely new research student of the American Revolution, it’s hard to know where to start looking for information. The first thought that usually comes to a member of the digital-generation’s mind is to go to Wikipedia! While that’s not the worst place to start, its certainly not the best. But wow, if you saw that page, you might not exactly want to read it all for a quick summary… so then the googling of “Summary of the American Revolution” takes place. Not exactly a great way to find quality answers (especially if the search produces more yahoo-answers type information than scholarly articles). Usually though, I find myself within the confines of the aforementioned Wikipedia page to start.
Now that B-Block Age of Exploration is pretty well immersed in research and planning for the American Revolution Documentary, set to finish by June, research has taken over. In class, it seems to be a bit of a struggle to get everyone on the same page… or at least on a page of research. In my search for articles, specifically about the effects of the Battle of Saratoga on the rest of the revolutionary war, I’ve come across many good sources. But I’ve found some questionable sources, some so-so sources, and then some sources that don’t seem half bad!
Generally (and I mean 99% of the time), yahoo-answers is not an accurate source for research, but sometimes it can tell you where to start – or, on occasion, where not to start. Kids websites fall under almost the same classification as yahoo-answers, but often times these articles do provide a fairly accurate, watered down version of what one should probably look into with more depth; still though, not a bad place to start! Some of the best sources however, are government website, like the last one listed. What they provide varies, but when the government is providing historical information, most of the time you can count on it being accurate!
In conclusion, when you happen to find yourself in the place of a new American-revolutionary student, don’t turn up your nose at information, but do use discretion with your sources. I have to say, in my research so far in Age of Exploration, I have found government articles, and more specifically, almost any article from the Facts on File database to be the best sources of information out there. For primary documents, I also recommend Facts on File or Jstor (both available with a subscription, or for Jstor, a library card). Next time you’re hunting for information, don’t forget your researching know-hows!