Zotero and other research tools from GMU

Earlier this week, while doing some (non-genealogical) research for my job, I came across the website of the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University. The Center has been around since 1994, but I had not seen its website before. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  The Center develops digital tools for historical research, many of which are perfect for the family historian. I will talk about these tools as I try them. Today, I want to discuss  Zotero, which I test drove at work this week. This tool allows you to organize research materials found online, automatically create source citations, and more. It comes in the form of an add-on for Firefox.   Here’s how it works:

Impressed by Zotero at work, I have started using this tool for my genealogy research, too. Right now, I’m using Zotero to pull together online sources that I may want to track, but not attach to any one record in my genealogy software.

Here’s an example. I am currently researching my great grandfather’s brother, Leo A. Patrick, who left Ohio to homestead in Oklahoma and New Mexico during the early 1900s. Leo is the first relative I have researched who moved west of the Mississippi, so I have a lot of background research to do about the territories where he lived, the history of statehood campaigns in Oklahoma and New Mexico (his obituary stated that he voted for statehood in both places), historical societies from those areas, and more. As I collect this background material, I can organize it in a “library” using Zotero.

Have you used any of the CHNM’s resources before? What has been most useful for you?

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