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The First World War

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The First World War is a database from the Adam Matthew Group. It provides a wide range of documents and images related to this conflict, covering the full period of the war from 1914-1918. The vast majority of these are primary sources, though some secondary ones are available. At present, the database is made up of two large collections, Personal Experiences and Propaganda and Recruitment. A third collection, Visual Perspectives and Narratives will be added in May 2014. A large number of the documents in the database are written in English, but many others are in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The database’s resources are drawn from numerous libraries, archives, museums, and other collections in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, and other countries. These institutions include The British Library, The Cambridge University Library, Hauptstaatsarchiv (in Stuttgart, Germany), and The National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial (in Kansas City, Missouri), among others.

Users of this database have a variety of ways to retrieve documents and images, and this is generally easy to do given the database’s straightforward search and browsing mechanisms. The various search options available here do not require the use of Boolean connectors in a query, but they can be added if desired. The advanced search allows the user to search a limited number of fields in each document, including Keywords Anywhere, Title, and Author, and the search can also be limited by date, proximity, and in a number of other ways. The lists of results generated by the database’s various search and browsing mechanisms are understandable and easy to navigate, and the individual results produced are usually on-point and useable. These documents and images are simple to view, download, and export. Unfortunately, only essays (and not images, or other kinds of documents) are available to print. Lists of documents and images can be e-mailed, but it is impossible to select one or more items from a list and e-mail them separately. Both the printing and e-mailing options here could prove to be problematic for some users. Pricing for this database is dependent on a number of factors, including relevant department size, Carnegie classification, multiple title orders with the Adam Matthew Group, and FTE. As a consequence it can vary widely. This variability could potentially make it expensive for some institutions. Those considering a subscription should first contact the vendor for specific pricing before proceeding any further. The licensing agreement for this database is long and somewhat complex, but most of its provisions appear to be fairly standard. Nevertheless, it should be examined closely by potential customers, and if possible, their legal counsel, before a subscription is agreed to. This database is a good resource for primary sources and other materials on World War I, despite its flaws, but it will only be of use to those institutions that have a great interest in this conflict, and which can afford the cost (which may be significant).

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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