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CD-ROM: ARMIES OF THE CROWN


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The late Arthur S White was for many years Librarian at the Ministry of
Defence (Army). During that time he catalogued all the published Corps and
regimental histories of the British Army – Regular, Militia, Volunteer and
Territorial. In 1980, Roger Perkins began the parallel task of tracing and
recording the published histories of the armed forces of the British and Indian
Empires. Their two massive bibliographies have now been unified in this single
easy-to-consult. Review from the Journal of Military History The CD-Rom, Armies
of the Crown, is an example of one of the major changes which the historical
profession is presently undergoing.It combines electronic reproductions of two
bibliographical references essential for anyone interested in the history of the
British Army’s regimental system, or of the related units of the Empire and
Commonwealth.These works are Arthur S White’s Regimental Histories of the
British Army and Roger Perkin’s Regiments and Corps of the British Empire and
Commonwealth, 1758-1994 (2d ed).For historians, professional and amateur, as
well as genealogists these books are fundamental to research into the regiments
and their history, though both works have their drawbacks.White’s book, for
example, is some thirty years old.Still, one cannot work in this field without
them, and they are often hard to find outside the United Kingdom.It is the
situation that the new technology has made its impact.Naval and Military Press
offers the researcher these invaluable tools in a compact and reasonably priced
electronic version.Since a mere facsimile would not make full use of the
technology available, the disc also contains a search engine, called
“FolioViews.”This mechanism allows one to search either book in a variety of
ways.The basic screen has three windows, which can be manipulated in various
ways.One window shows the table of contents of either book in greater or lesser
detail. Another displays pages in successive order, while the third shows all
matches.The input search can be a number of key words.One can search by
regimental name, number, title, seniority, and so on.In short, the search engine
is simple to learn and presents the researcher with the ability to access things
far faster than could be done in the printed version of the books.In addition,
the ability to print out the results obviates the need to scribble notes.Armies
of the Crown clearly demonstrates an aspect of how rapidly changing technology
is affecting the historical profession.One problem which cannot be solved by
Armies of the Crown is the difficulty of obtaining the works listed.Perkins’s
book. unlike White’s, gives leads as to where these histories can be found,
though that often does not prove very helpful since regimental histories are
often scarce and hard to find. Quibbles aside, Armies of the Crown is absolutely
essential for research libraries and individuals working in this field.Coupled
with another major technological advance, the world wide web (especially sites
such as www.regiments.org), Armies of the Crown demonstrates that researchers
are one step nearer to the day when most sources will be accessible on CD-Rom or
on the Web.
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