RESEARCH FOR WRITERS OF HISTORICAL FICTION, #7

This week’s installment on the Using the Internet portion of Historical Research will be short and sweet.  (I hope).

After looking for the usual suspects (as listed last week), you can move on to more esoteric resources. One of those things you can use is to find the webpage of someone with a singular passion. See that webpage reproduced below?

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First of all, be careful about these pages, because you don’t know the person maintaining them. They could be completely wrong about everything, so it helps to do some double checking. But once you’ve decided their information is sound, they can be incredibly helpful!

The page above is maintained by a person in the Netherlands who maintains several websites for tram history. They have a site for the trams of Coimbra, Lisboa, and…cities in the Netherlands, too.

This particular site is quite extensive, with maps of the different lines, when each ran, when they were converted from mule-drawn to electric. For me, with characters taking trams all over the area, this became a vital resource.  I used this person’s maps quite a bit.

Now imagine my horror when, just as I’m doing edits, THE PAGE SHUTS DOWN. EEEEP!!!  It took a couple of weeks before I could find it again, with a new address.

So this is where one of the pieces of advice I gave last week comes in.

If you think it’s something that might be vital during edits, save a copy–screencap, word file, printout–but make sure you don’t loose access to the page if  you might desperately need it later. 

And one final word on this kind of site. If you use it a lot and the option is there, donate. Even a dollar or two can help these people defray their costs, and it’s simply the nice thing to do.

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Next Week: Using Social Media…no, seriously…

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RRH Confession #8

I spent far too long researching whether or not electricity had been run along certain streets in Porto by 1902. It’s interesting to know that the newer parts of the city had electricity first, but the old center of town? It took much longer to get power into those parts of the city.

In the end, I made a judgment call and simply said no, the Street of Flowers wouldn’t have electricity yet and blamed the prince for that.  Lisbon, however, I knew to have power at the time. So that worked out to be one sentence in one book.

(Note all the wires strong under the windows in the pic below…yep, that’s how power got to the old houses. They were mostly granite buildings, so drilling holes through the walls is tough. Hence this compromise, still going on over a century later.)

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