American Decades

Article excerpt

American Decades

Company: Gale Group, 27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331; Customer Service: 800/877-4253; Technical Support: 800/457-4253 and http://; Web site: http://www.

Price: $600--site license, unlimited access. Windows only.

Audience: High school students, teachers of all grade levels.

Format: CD-ROM: text, graphics, video, audio.


Overall Rating *****

Installation       A
Content/Features   A-
Ease of use        A-
Product Support    A

Maximum rating: 5 stars

System Requirements: Single user: 386 processor, DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1 or higher, 8 MB RAM, 5 MB free hard disk space, 256 colors, 8 bit sound card, CD-ROM player.

Network requires NetBIOS compatible network, CD-ROM drive.

Workstations: 386, DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1 or higher, 8 MB RAM, 256 colors, and sound card.

Description: American Decades examines the 20th century in America with 200 primary documents, more than 1,200 photos and illustrations, video and audio clips of significant events, lists and tables of achievements for each year, and a navigable timeline of world and national events. Searches can be conducted by decade, subject, topic, timeline, biography, or primary document.

Reviewer Comments: Installation: The installation on a stand-alone computer and the installation on the network were very easy. As with all Gale products, this program must be "unlocked" for use. Since it is often difficult for librarians to get the necessary numbers required to unlock the system, I would recommend that the company reconsider this approach to installation. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: American Decades allows students to examine 20th century American history in many ways--by decade, subject, specific year, biography, primary source, and media. The objective is to give students the opportunity to manipulate the material to find the perspective that best meets their research needs.

The Browse by Decade option focuses on specific subjects within a decade, such as arts, fashion, government, social trends, religion, science, sports, etc. For each subject, students can review information, including overviews, topics, biographies, and awards. The articles range from one to many pages. The overviews are comprehensive, with amazing bibliographies, and include many citations from the decade under study.

The Subject Search contains thousands of words and phrases. It is easiest to enter specific search parameters, but it is also possible to browse to find the needed information. The results are arranged by decade.

Primary documents are included in the Subject Search, but students may need some help to identify original sources. Under the subject of Civil Rights, for example, students will find a list of hits that includes Brown v. Board of Education. This, however, turns out to be a discussion of the case--not a primary source document. The excerpts from the famous decision are located in the Primary Sources section.

Subject searches can be viewed either alphabetically or by outline. The outline option allows a search by category, broken down into smaller pieces. An additional category, Sidelights, provides more insight into a subject.

The Primary Documents are excellent, with many included from the Congressional Record, Supreme Court cases, and New York Times articles. Searching can be done alphabetically or by subject.

The Topics in the News section is not as useful as it could be. There is no way to select a decade in this area; the topics are only listed alphabetically. To learn about the important news stories for a decade, students must search the Browse by Decade area. …