New databases at Booth Library

Samuel Nusbaum, Administration Reporter

Several new databases are now available for students to use on Eastern’s webpage, including three created by the university and one that is a state database Eastern uses.

History professor Debra Reid presented these Tuesday at Booth Library because she said she noticed students do not have a strong background in how to use these primary sources.

“It doesn’t hurt to repeat more than once how important primary sources are,” Reid said.

One of these databases, Past Tracker, is a portal with many sources that cover different eras in Illinois history.

Some of the images found on the portal are from documents, laws and important news stories. Others are used with permission from the state.

Topics found on this portal include government, society and culture, business, economics and race relations during Illinois history.

Reid said she has photos on the database from a doctor during World War I, which depicts the hospital wards on the front lines.

She then pulled up a photo of a law which she found interesting and had a local connection.

“Illinois was the first state east of the Mississippi River to grant women’s suffrage,” Reid said.

This law made it legal for women to vote in school elections.

Graduate student Brock Stafford said Past Tracker is currently getting an update to make sure everything on the site is up-to-date so when people use it, all the information is accurate.

The state-sponsored database, called Cyber Drive, is broader than the others and focuses on genealogy.

Reid said newspapers are also a good resource and are constantly being microfilmed to increase the longevity of them, because the paper deteriorates so quickly.

Microfilm is a small film generally used to preserve old documents.

The third database, called The Many Faces of the Illinois Farmscape, is currently a work in progress, Reid said.

This past summer, photos were taken of farms while the farm owners were interviewed on topics that affect their life. The point of the project is to show the impact of the past and how the past influences the present life of the farm.

Several graduate students are working on an exhibit about local history.

“It is going to be in Booth Library starting March 30, I think we said next year,” Stafford said.

He said they will be working with organizations like the Illinois State Museum, the Abraham Lincoln Library Museum, the African-American Museum of Springfield and the Lincoln Home to complete it.


Samuel Nusbaum can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]