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Name: Georganna Hancock
Location: San Diego, California, United States

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Writing About the U.S.

Setting a novel in the United States often requires some research into history. Similarly, a nonfiction piece may need comparative data from a previous era. Everyone knows the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) is probably the largest repository of such information. But not everyone can travel to Washington, D.C., to perform the necessary research. Fortunately the digital age rescues us -- and we don't even need a special membership or password to access the LOC collections.

Visiting the electronic version of the library can be as daunting as paying it a visit in person. Where to go? What to ask for? Fortunately intermediaries, like the Digital Library Federation maintain a registry of the digitized collections in the LOC. This isn't just a list of names, however. Clicking on the Full Description link takes you to a page of information about the collection that will help you determine if it's likely to contain the data you are seeking. Additionally, the description page contains sections on associated projects and related collections. In some cases, alternative access URLs are provided, handy if the main link is down for any reason.

You can also search A Writer's Edge for other posts on research.

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