Who Killed William Robinson? Race, Justice and Settling the Land
Created and maintained by John Lutz and Ruth Sandwell, Humanities Computing Media Centre at the University of Victoria, 1997-2008
Who Killed William Robinson? is the most effective site I have seen in explaining the historical way of research and thinking outside of the college classroom. It has the option of being used privately or academically as an interactive tool to explore the themes of of race, justice, and settlement in Canada. Expansive and in depth, it is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the mind if you love a good mystery.
This site is just one branch under the series, Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History. Its introduction (although lengthy) gives a great explanation of the goals and purpose of the site. There is also a separate page for how to effectively use the site, a guide for teachers, explanations for historical terms as they appear, and even an option to view it in French. Some might argue the site often goes too in depth, since text is never in short supply, but considering this site is supposed to extend from the end of middle school to college and beyond, in my opinion the site does exactly what is necessary. If anything, the amount of pages to the site, not actual text, is what might seem overwhelming or intimidating, initially.
The site highly encourages students to draw their own conclusions and create an analysis based on the numerous forms of evidence provided on the site. From court documents, to letters, to maps, to photographs, and beyond, I do not believe it could be any more unbiased in the direction it allows people to take. The interpretaitons are even password protected, as to allow teachers the chance to encourage the students to utilize the site without having to worry they are taking from someone else's conclusions.
Not enough good can be said about this site. It is well-maintained, updated, and formatted in such a way that reading for length is easy on the eyes. However, it does take advantage, by sheer size, that a person is comfortable at a computer. For those who do not normally navigate such expansive sites, or have never worked with historical documents, it might take more time to get used to the various options and ideas the site is attempting to relay. Although it can be used by non-academics and students, the site would be most effective under the guidance of a teacher or historian. It truly is an effective way to incite interest and motivation to learn more about history and its methods.
Site Review: Who Killed William Robinson?