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Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library

By Alice Kurtz - Posted May 1, 2006
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Overall Rating:4 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A-

Company: Thomson Gale, 27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331. Phone: (800) 877-4253; Internet:

Price: $190—Single school use. District pricing varies.

Audience: 7th grade-high school.

Format: The eBook edition is accessed on the Gale Virtual Reference Library platform.

This material is also available in a print edition.

Minimum System Requirements: Computer with Internet access, a Web browser, Adobe Acrobat software, and a printer.

Description: The Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library, published by UXL, covers the history of America during the second half of the 19th century, a time when the country began its march toward the role of the wealthiest and most powerful industrial nation in the world. The eBook edition offers database searching through the work's four sections: Almanac, Biographies, Primary Sources, and Cumulative Index.

Reviewer Comments:

Access: The online database is accessed with a password and user name. There was no problem getting to the opening pages. Access Rating: A

Content/Features: The Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library provides cross-referenced, hyperlinked entries that examine the people, places, and events that make up the story of America's industrial past. This information can be printed, copied, and saved.

The Almanac section provides an overview of the history of America's industrialization. The section's 14 chapters cover the first American factories, inventors, the rise of big business and railroads, urbanism, labor unions, industrial influences in the South and the Great Plains, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, the post-industrial Era, and more.

Each chapter features sidebars highlighting glossary terms and issues discussed in the text, as well as lists of additional readings and Web sites for more information. Also included are photographs and illustrations, a timeline, a general glossary, a limited list of suggested research and activity ideas, and an index providing easy access to subjects discussed throughout the volume.

The Biographies section profiles 26 men and women who played a significant role during American industrialization. The biographies cover a wide spectrum of people, from the creators of the first factories such as Samuel Slater and Francis Cabot Lowell, to inventors and innovators including John Fitch, Elijah McCoy, and Thomas Edison.

This material includes a selection about Chinese railroad workers, as well as profiles of industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller; reformers Jane Addams, Florence Kelley, and Booker T. Washington; labor advocates Eugene Debs and A. Philip Randolph, and others. Pictures, sidebars, glossaries, and cross references are available.

The Primary Sources material presents complete and excerpted written works, speeches, and documents that were important during American industrialization. In this section are excerpts from the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton concerning industrialization; legislation including the Interstate Commerce Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act; segments of popular novels depicting the effects of industrialization on various segments of society; political cartoons; a popular labor song; and more.

This section offers many nice features. An Introduction to each document sets a purpose and provides historical background for students before they tackle the document. The What Happened Next segment gives an account of subsequent events. The Did You Know material provides interesting anecdotes about the author, the document, or the times.

Also included are research and activity ideas for teachers and students; most of these focus on writing a research paper.

Topic searches are accomplished by entering a specific term or phrase using the Basic Search option; searches are not case-sensitive. The Advanced Search feature offers a full-text search with exact match or relative terms. Words keyed into the search are highlighted in the text.

All entries are cross-referenced and are of similar encyclopedic format. The photos and illustrations really enhance the materials. The embedded glossaries and the sidebars make the database materials richer in content than a print encyclopedia. At the time of this review, the reference library contained 262,644 materials.

A translation feature offers the text in seven languages in addition to English: Chinese (simplified), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

This reference library can be used in a variety of ways. The research and reference function is obvious, of course. Other projects that would be enhanced by this library include student debates, role playing, re-enactments, comparing and contrasting the industrialists of today with those of the 19th century, designing electronic presentations, and developing Web quests or documentary film projects.

The materials are excellent for teaching content, enhancing and teaching research skills, and imbuing students with the skill of citing materials. For teachers, it would probably be a good idea to review search terms with students. For students, background in database searching is a must.

Most students in middle school and high school could read and understand the entries without much difficulty. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: This eBook database is quite easy to use. The interface is very simple and clear.

Users can search the eBook table of contents by selecting a volume and entering a quick term. The eBook index is searchable by a term, part of a term, or a browsable alphabetical list of topics.

The lists of illustrations and timelines are searchable; How to Cite information is available. A Help feature offers suggestions for searching, with assorted tips for ease of use. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: This eBook doesn't offer a teacher's manual, although it does include an online Help feature linked to a table of contents.

The Thomson Gale Web site ( provides a guided virtual tour that is helpful for beginning users of the virtual library platform. The home page offers Search Tips for students and a Navigation Guide for librarian training.

Toll-free telephone support is available for users loading MARC records and working on other similar technical issues. Product Support Rating: A-

Recommendation: Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library offers a huge range of information in an easy-to-use database. The search tools allow access to the information in a variety of ways, making the database a great place for students to begin projects and papers.

The text is clearly written and embedded with glossaries and background information in colorful sidebars on related subjects, people, and concepts mentioned in the body of the text. The white space between paragraphs and the article subheadings is particularly helpful for students reading onscreen material.

In addition to its use as a reference tool, the database can be used to teach beginning researchers about the types of sources to consider when seeking complete information on a topic.

This eBook would be a very good addition to a school library's reference collection. Recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, Iowa City, IA 52246;

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