I am still collecting information on Historical Research for Writers. I’ve been through dozens of webpages, enough to make my eyes burn. Internet resources are generally free, a boon that authors of two decades ago simply didn’t have.
But how do we find those internet resources?
There are five main things I’m going to suggest.
1) Use your search engines.
Not everyone has the same level of GoogleFu, but using a search engine is fairly basic. I prefer Google, but my Browser opts for Bing, so I use both fairly often. Yahoo slips my mind, but I sometimes use Dogpile, which includes Yahoo (and Google, but not Bing).
2) Ask around.
If you have access to a writers group that writes in the same genre as you, the chances are good that one of your compatriots knows where to find that little tidbit you’re searching for. The RWA, for example, has dozens of ‘subgenre’ specific chapters. If you’re interested in shoes for the Regency era, you could just ask that group, and someone’s likely to be able to send you a link. I believe that the MWA has something similar. Not a member? Well, there’s always FaceBook.
3) Use Wikipedia.
Yes, I know a lot of people cringe when I say that. But Wikipedia does offer a huge amount of information, most of which is reasonably accurate. In each Wikipedia article there are usually citations below with links to the original sources for the article. Also, I don’t mind occasionally clicking over to the discussion page and seeing what they’re quibbling over there. Ooh! More links there. Plus every article seems to link to a gazillion other articles, outside sites, and photographs. It’s a wealth of information that’s free. And even if the article itself is uninspiring, one of the links it takes you to might be just what you need.
4) Check Authors’ Websites.
Some authors want to be helpful to other authors, so they often set up a page of links on their website. If there’s an author who writes about 1920 San Francisco and -you- write about 1920 San Francisco, that writer might have some links up that would save you some time.
5) Writers On-line Forums and Groups
While you may not choose to be a member of some of these groups, you can often access their writers’ resource pages free. Writers Write, Absolute Write, places like that…if you know one, there’s a chance they have a list somewhere.
So what are some other on-line resources that we can use to find historical resources?