African-American Culture and History on CD-ROM

By Kalfatovic, Martin R. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview

African-American Culture and History on CD-ROM


Kalfatovic, Martin R., Reference & User Services Quarterly


African-American Culture and History on CD-ROM. Release 1.0. New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1999. Price: $450. (ISBN 0-02-865364-5). www.mlr.com.

Requirements: 486-66 PC/compatible or higher; CD-ROM drive; 36 MB hard disk space (only 18 MB if a Macmillan Library Reference CD-ROM using Netscape Navigator 4.0 and the PL-Web CD software has already been installed); 16 MB RAM or higher; SVGA monitor; TCP/IP Internet protocol. Optional: printer. Unlimited LAN networking allowed.

Macmillan's African-American Culture and History on CD-ROM contains the fulltext of the five-volume Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (1996) for which approximately 250 of the 2,300 articles were updated and an additional 30 new articles added. Also included on the CD-ROM are selections from the Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery (1998) and selected maps from The African-American Atlas: Black History and Culture--An Illustrated Reference (1998). Other highlights of the disc are the inclusion of more than one thousand images, forty-five primary source documents, and an extensive timeline.

The titles listed above form the core of information on the disc. A navigation menu bar offers the "Photo Gallery," "Historic Tours," "Timeline," "Search," "People Search," and an "Outline of Contents." The useful "Timeline" feature organizes nearly all the disc's contents in chronological order. A sophisticated full-text search tool allows access by keyword (with Boolean, phrase, and various limiting functions) to any article in the text and the "People Search" lets users focus their searches on specific biographically related search fields (occupation, birthplace). The "Photo Gallery" allows the user to browse chronologically through selected images on the disc.

There is no true multimedia to be found on this disc; the "Photo Gallery" is the only nod to the visual possibilities of the medium. The illustrations in the photo gallery are well selected. Historic items are nearly all from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (at the New York Public Library) and the Library of Congress. More recent photographs are credited to Associated Press/Wide World Photos.

Seven "historical tours" that outline such topics as the Underground Railroad, the slave trade, the northward migration, and the civil rights movement each provide a helpful, concise introduction to the topic with links to articles in the main body of the CD-ROM for more in-depth information on related topics.

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