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Launched by the Harvard Film Study Center on February 4, is an experimental interactive site that invites users to piece together the life and world of an "ordinary" person in the past. The person in question is eighteenth-century midwife and healer Martha Ballard, whose diary was the basis for both a Pulitzer Prize winning book and the PBS film A Midwife's Tale. The site features thousands of pages of original documents -- including diaries, letters, maps, court records, town records, account books, and medical texts -- offered as both page images in their original format and in transcription. Also included is a searchable online version of Ballard's entire 27-year diary. Two interactive and in-depth examples ("Martha Ballard and 'Man-Midwife'" and "One Rape. Two Stories.") demonstrate how to "do history," making sense of original documents, building a tale around them, and answering the questions that they raise. Students and other users motivated by these interesting examples can then consult the On Your Own section for some tools, tips, and other resources for their own historical research. Finally, the site offers behind the scenes looks at the book and movie, A Midwife's Tale. While DoHistory is especially useful for students, anyone with an interest in history and the research process will be both entertained and educated by the site.
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Date of Scout Publication 2000-02-11
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