History Commons: Contributor Resources
This is a compilation of the different resources History Commons contributors have in helping them learn to use the system and write entries.
- Submit by E-Mail
- How contributors can submit entries by e-mail and avoid wrestling with the rather unfriendly submission app.
- New Topic Listing
- A listing of proposed new projects (or the expansion of older projects) for the History Commons.
- Entries for “Dummies”
- This is an informal walkthrough and procedural guide for making entries, written specifically for the new user by Michael Tuck (blackmax), a site administrator. Michael recommends you start here first. (There's a version of this housed on the History Commons itself, but it’s incomplete and not nearly as spiffily styled.)
- Style Manual
- This is the official “style manual” for History Commons entries, giving extensive information on the various grammatical and syntactical styles to be used in creating entries. It’s primarily based on the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook.
- Inputting Entries for Newbies
- Another guide for making entries, hosted on the History Commons Group Blog and written by site administrator Kevin Fenton (KJF).
- Entry Walkthrough
- A former contributor, Karen Weinstein, provided an alternate walkthrough based on her experiences as a new user.
- Content & Copy Editing
- Style manual for content and copy editing, written by site administrators Matt Everett, Kevin Fenton, and Michael Tuck.
- History Commons Channel on YouTube
- While the videos on this channel focus mostly on 9/11, there are plenty of other subjects covered as well.
- MSN Encarta Dictionary and Thesaurus
- There's also Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com.
- Google News Archive Search
- This provides an easy way to explore and search historical news reports. It is similar to Google’s standard search engine, except its results are limited to news articles. Search results may include content that is freely accessible as well as content that requires a fee. By using the advanced search features, you can limit your search results to news articles that were published between specific dates of your choosing.
- Google Books
- This allows you to search for specific content that has been published in books. You use the book search like you use Google’s standard web search, but search results are limited to content that has appeared in books. You may be able to see a preview of the books featured in your search results and, in some cases, the entire text of a book. Otherwise, Google Books gives you the option of buying the relevant books from an online bookseller, such as Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
- Internet Archive Wayback Machine
- This is a useful resource for finding online news stories and other web pages that have been removed from their original Internet location. It includes billions of web pages archived from 1996 up to a few months ago. To use it, you type in the web address where the article you are seeking was originally available and then press enter. If the web page is available at the Wayback Machine, you can select it from a list of dates when it was archived.
- The Greatest Writing Tips the World has Ever Seen
- This is a selection of 23 tips for writers, from the Newsroom Training website. While the tips are geared toward journalists, many of them could be applied to the kind of work we do at History Commons.
- YouTube Reporters' Center
- This is a resource to help citizens learn more about how to report the news, straight from the experts. It features videos of some of America's top journalists sharing tips and advice for better reporting.
- George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”
- In this classic article, George Orwell put forward insightful criticisms of bad writing habits, which, he argued, writers must rid themselves of. Most importantly, Orwell ended with six rules writers can follow in order to avoid most of the errors of poor writing outlined earlier in the article. There is a good summary of “Politics and the English Language” at Wikipedia.
- Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It
- A good summary of the various kinds and types of plagiarism. While few serious researchers and writers deliberately commit plagiarism, it’s all too easy to accidentally fall into it.
If you have any questions or concerns about making entries, you’re not sure where to go, you’re having problems, you’d like to suggest a better methodology, or you know of resources that are not included in this listing, you can post about it on the History Commons Groups Blog, or contact Michael Tuck at
Thanks for being a History Commons contributor!