Capital punishment …. for websites of doubtful quality

4 March 2014

The quantity and variety of historical resources available on the internet is increasing at an extremely rapid rate and these represent enormously valuable research tools. However the internet, as a source, is almost un-assessable: although it provides access to a great range of superb resources, some sites are of doubtful quality, are unreliable or partisan, or were compiled by people with an inadequate understanding of historical research and investigation. Hence, it is important to consider several key features when evaluating each website:

Coverage: What does the web page cover?

Objective: How detailed is the information? Who was the information written for?

Currency: When was the website first produced? And is it regularly updated?

Accuracy: Does the information look reliable? Are there typographic errors? Is the information unique, or could it be found elsewhere either online or offline?

Authenticity: Is the website run by an organisation, an educational establishment or an individual? Are there any clues as to the authenticity of the site?

Richard Clark commenced work on one very thorough resource site in 1995. The Capital Punishment UK website explains the history of the death penalty and executions in the UK from 1735-1964. Richard states that the information contained on the pages of the site are his ‘own work and research and are intended for use for research and educational purposes’.

Capital Punishment UK1

A chronology of individual cases is incorporated along with detailed histories of British ‘hanging prisons’ including Bodmin Gaol which is featured in the current – March – edition of Cornwall Life. Both the website and the magazine article highlight the case of Selina Wadge. Well worth putting some time aside to read this and other fascinating stories….

Run by an individual and regularly updated – with a Facebook page linked from it – this website provides a veritable plethora of information for you to both indulge in and learn from. Ready to lose your Tuesday evening/Wednesday to this site? See you on the other side…. How many one-name study references are there in the execution lists?

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