Truman Presidential Museum and Library
home | many pasts | evidence | www.history | blackboard | reference
talking history | syllabi | students | teachers | puzzle | about us
search: go!
advanced search - go!

Project WhistleStop: Truman Digital Archive Project
Created and maintained by the Independence, Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, and Platte County R-3 Missouri School Districts; the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library; and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Site visited Sept. 30, 2001.
Project WhistleStop no longer exists in its original format. Its contents are now available on the Truman Presidential Library and Museum website.

Named after the 1948 presidential campaign train tour that led to Harry S. Truman’s upset victory over Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey, Project WhistleStop brings together schoolteachers, librarians and archivists, and scholars. Intended to serve as an archive of primary sources and a teaching resource, the site presents hundreds of documents, photographs, cartoons, and audio files from the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.

The site revolves around document collections selected and arranged by archivists at the Truman Library. Some deal with Truman’s personal files, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the 1948 presidential campaign, and the Korean War. More ambitious collections center on controversies over the decision to drop the atomic bomb, U.S. recognition of Israel, the desegregation of the armed forces, the Berlin airlift, and the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Use of policy documents and personal letters provides broader access to sources previously available only to scholars at the Truman Library. Most documents will be familiar to experienced teachers and researchers. Reflecting the renewed attention of scholars over the last ten years, the Korean War area is especially detailed and well done. While most of the collections employ documents and photographs from the Truman Library, this part includes links to other Korean War World Wide Web sites.

Teachers and students will find the “Whistlestop for Classroom” area particularly helpful. The editors provide a Teachers Resource area tied to the relevant National History Standards and the Missouri Show Me State history standards, while the Student Guide delves into Truman’s personal, family, political, and presidential life along with cartoons, timelines, and games. In the most innovative part of the site, student projects from Missouri public school districts showcase the possibilities, pratfalls, and pride of collaborative learning that online archives now make possible.

Each area is rated for elementary, middle school, and high school levels with appropriately selected documents, teaching units and lessons plans, and external Web site links relating Truman Library sources to classroom projects and activities. Scholars will be disappointed that bibliographical references to recent research are rare and brief with the significant exception of an online book, Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History, edited by Robert H. Ferrell. The hotlink to a second work, Airbridge to Berlin: The Berlin Crisis of 1948—Its Origins and Aftermath, by D. M. Giangreco and Robert E. Griffin, did not work when the site was accessed for this review.

Compared with the scope, design, and depth of other Internet sites sponsored by or related to presidential libraries, Project WhistleStop brings to bear a significant selection of primary sources to widen the Truman Library’s archival audience, while presenting students and teachers with a wide range of text, images, and sounds. Like the New Deal Network use of student projects, this site reveals the possibilities for online historical research by young students when directed by Internet- savvy teachers who bring their classroom experience and interpretive skills to engage in truly cooperative learning.

Patrick D. Reagan
Tennessee Technological University
Cookeville, Tennessee