History Comes Alive Online: You Would Expect HistoryChannel.com, an Online Extension of A&E Television Network's Popular Cable Programming, to Be a Slick Site with Lots of Audio and Video. It Does Not Disappoint

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Resources such as video of the Apollo 11 moon landing, audio of horrified radio reporter Herbert Morrison describing the Hindenburg explosion, and text of a letter from Pliny the Younger recounting the eruption of Mount Vesuvius are just a few of the thousands of historical records you can find online.

History comes alive on sites that have been developed by a wide range of organizations such as universities, entertainment companies, and educational publishers. These sites are designed not for academics but for lay history buffs. They include text, photos, videos, audio clips, discussion areas, and other resources that help make the study of history seem a lot less like studying. The following are three of the most popular, according to users of Yahoo!.

The History Channel

You would expect HistoryChannel.com, an online extension of A&E Television Network's popular cable programming, to be a slick site with lots of audio and video. It does not disappoint.

HistoryChannel.com's video and audio archives contain large collections of historical film clips and some of the 20th century's great speeches. You can watch World War I naval activity, nuclear explosions, John F. Kennedy's funeral, and the launch of the space shuttle Columbia. Many other video clips are available in such categories as This Day in History, Historical Icons, Military & War, Arts & Society, and Science & Technology. Video collections also are available in "showcases" that cover World War II, JFK, and Space Exploration.

The audio collection lets you listen to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, Lou Gehrig's farewell to baseball, Ralph Ellison's comments on the origins of Invisible Man, Aaron Copland's thoughts on composing music, and dozens of other historical speeches in such categories as Politics & Government; Science & Technology; Arts, Entertainment & Culture; and War & Diplomacy.

HistoryChannel.com also offers a History of the World Timeline. Just click the century you want (back to 500 B.C.), and you get a list of important events with links to relevant entries in the Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.

If you want to know what happened on your birthday (or any other day of the year), use the site's This Day in History feature. Many other sites offer similar resources, but HistoryChannel.com has a unique search engine that lets you specify the type of fact you want to find: general interest, crime, Civil War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Wall Street, World War II, literary, or automotive. (I learned that the Mercedes was introduced on my birthday, March 25.)

HistoryChannel.com's Discussions area is a place where you can "share your opinions, memories, and expertise with thousands of history buffs," according to an online note. Discussion topics include wars, religion, and sports history. Other features on the site are a television guide, an online store where you can order videos, and a classroom area with study guides and ideas from history teachers.

Your Area of Interest

TheHistoryNet.com is another history site with a great deal of information on specific regions and events. The site was created by Primedia History Group, publisher of several magazines, including American History, America's Civil War, Aviation History, Vietnam, Wild West, World War II, and British Heritage.

The editors say the publications "strive to reach and encourage a popular audience, to make history relevant to today and to the understanding of events in our own neighborhoods or across the globe."

TheHistoryNet.com offers free access to selected feature articles from the magazines as well as online extras. The main sections are devoted to individual publications, and each section usually includes a full-text article from the corresponding print edition.

For example, at this writing, the Wild West area lets you read a feature article about the Renos, two brothers who robbed trains in the late 1800s. …