Footnote.com: Free Story Pages
NOTE: This is part #2 of a 3-part article that looks at the many services available at www.footnote.com. Part #1 of this article is still available at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/06/an_indepth_look.html.
In the last article I described some of the millions of historical documents available on Footnote.com. These are available to you at very modest fees. This week I will describe the free services available on the same web site.
Story Pages consist of user-contributed images, text, and more. You can use Story Pages to track your research, make an online scrapbook, even multimedia scrapbooks, if you wish. Story Pages allow you to share photos and documents with friends and family, no matter where they are. You can showcase original documents that you have scanned. You can also invite other Footnote.com users to collaborate and contribute to your efforts. In fact, more than a few Story Pages already have been added to Footnote.com by local historical societies, family societies, and other single-purpose organizations.
Not only are the Story Pages free to the creator, they are also free and fully searchable by all others, if the creators of the pages have decided to make their information public. In fact, you can even include "for pay" images from Footnote.com into your Story Pages, and those images will be visible at no charge to individuals that you personally invite. That is, you can send personal invitations to perhaps ten of your cousins to view a page at no charge that contains a Footnote.com-contributed image. Only those ten can view the image at no charge. Anyone else has to pay the normal fee to view the image.
The images that you upload are always visible to everyone else free of charge. You can see many, many examples of this right now at http://www.footnote.com/storypages/.
One of the fascinating features of Story Pages is that others can post comments containing supplemental information or corrections. If you ever find what you believe is erroneous information in Footnote.com's pages, you cannot correct it directly, but you do have the option of posting a comment to the page. In that page, you might post what you believe is the correct information. I would suggest that you also cite the sources as to where you obtained that information. Future viewers of that page will see both the original information as well as your updated comments. They will be able to judge for themselves which version is correct.
The free Story Pages may contain as many images and as much text as you wish. In effect, you or your historical society or your family name society will have a free web site of unlimited size on Footnote.com. You can store megabytes of information on the site. Footnote.com is probably the only online service that will allow your society to upload as many images and as much text as you want at no charge, then make that information available and even include it in an easily-searched online index.
The owners of Footnote.com do ask that all Story Pages be related to history in some manner. Such uses include genealogy, historical society web pages, railroad history, class reunions, school histories, military history, commentary on historical events and so on. This is not the appropriate web site for your bowling league or for a local Cub Scout den. You can find other free web sites that will host those pages for you; Footnote.com is all about history.
What is an appropriate historical topic for Footnote.com's Story Pages? The topics are limited only by your imagination. Here is a list of some of the Story Pages that I found while researching this article, all of them created by users of the service:
Patriots Of Color ~ Revolutionary War - African Americans - free, slave, and ex-slave - fought side by side with white colonists seeking independence from British domination. George Washington, as Commander of the Continental Army, forbade the enlistment of Blacks - free, slave, or ex-slave - during the early stages of the war. He later learned that the Royal Governor of Virginia, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, was enlisting slaves and indentured servants into the British army with the promise of "freedom to all slaves who would join the King's army." Dunmore's tactic of lifting the ban on Blacks enlisting in the British army led George Washington to change his mind, and, therefore, Blacks later joined the Continental Armed Forces.
Women Soldiers of the Civil War - During the American Civil War, a number of women (estimated at between 450-700) disguised themselves as men and fought as soldiers on both sides. Other women served as spies, laundresses, nurses, cooks etc, but this page is about three of those who disguised themselves and enlisted as men.
Whittier Union High's "Cardinal & White" Annual 1927 yearbook - Scans of the Whittier Union High's "Cardinal & White" Annual yearbook for 1927. Whittier Union High (WUH), now called Whittier High School, is in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California, USA. Most of the senior class student photos have names listed next to their photos. The junior class sections have only group photos with no identifying information other than a few signatures by students, and no roster of names. Faculty has individual photos and a roster of names, but they do not have their names listed next to their photos. Several faculty pictures have signatures next to them.
George Washington's Letters to Congress after the Siege of Boston - This is an account of Boston after the evacuation of British troops in March 1776, written by George Washington. The final four pages of this group of documents include his signature. It's a fascinating way to view history and a surprise defeat of the British, which showed them that colonial troops weren't a total rabble, and that the general had a few tricks up his sleeve.
History of American Secular Thought - Searching for secularist sentiment in American History.
The Early History of Stone County, Missouri - This is a small section of the county's history as published in "The History of Stone County."
A Tasty Bite of History - Recipes from old newspapers, including: Shrimp and Yellow Rice, contributed by the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa; Put Magic In Your Muffins; and Roast Duck With Orange Coconut Stuffing.
Spencer Family History - Information on Alfred (also sometimes spelled as Alford) A. Spencer, born 12 Feb 1834, Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA. This Story Page includes a picture of Mr. Spencer along with images of his Civil War pension application, as well as images of his records in the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census records.
Getting Started at the Archives of Michigan - Materials development for teaching Michigan history.
History Of Cattaraugus County, New York - As originally handwritten by Flora Wyman Kidder about 1930.
Troopers who served in WW-II as the Last Buffalo Soldiers - The History of the 10th Cavalry Regiment.
David Owen Dodd is perhaps one of the best-known Civil War figures in Arkansas history. The city of Little Rock remembered the boy, hanged as a Confederate spy in January 1864, by naming a school and a road in his honor. While many see him as a martyr, others argue his execution was justified according to military rules of war.
Disneyland Construction - View the construction of "The Happiest Place on Earth": from nothing but an orange grove to what it is today.
U.S. Colored Troops and Sailors Awarded the Medal of Honor
The Price They Paid - Have you ever wondered what happened to those men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War. What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence, knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
As you can see from the above examples, user-contributed Story Pages can cover a wide variety of topics. I was especially impressed by "Whittier Union High's "Cardinal & White" Annual 1927 Yearbook." It is an excellent example of a non-traditional method to capture and disseminate historical information.
Best of all, the Story Pages are being indexed by Google and many other search engines. If you contribute a story and images of a favorite historical topic, your pages will be indexed on Google within a few weeks. Anyone who finds your information on Google or elsewhere can then read your information and view your images at no charge.
You can access all of the above and more at http://www.footnote.com.
Footnote has something for everyone, from individual history buffs to groups and societies looking for a smart way to make their collections available to millions of people.
To learn more about Footnote.com, go to the web site and click on "Take Tour." This will play a video that gives details on much of what I have described. Note that anyone using a slower Internet connection may prefer to view the same video on YouTube. A direct link to YouTube is provided when you go to http://www.footnote.com and click on "Take Tour."
The above is a summary of the free Story Pages available to everyone on Footnote.com. In Part #3 of this article, I will discuss some of the "housekeeping" of the web site, including how peer review ensures that all user-contributed pages are relevant to history, how spam is quickly handled, the site's commitment to protecting the privacy of users, and more.