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Tutor profile: Nathaniel P.

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Nathaniel P.
Librarian since 2016
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Questions

Subject: Library and Information Science

TutorMe
Question:

I found these websites. How can I know whether to trust them or not?

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Nathaniel P.
Answer:

First, look at the end of each website's URL. Some of the most reliable websites are governmental and educational websites: anything ending with .gov and .edu is likely to be reliable, sites ending with .com are more or less variable, and sites ending with .org are less likely to be reliable. However, you can't just assume that you can trust .edu or .gov sites and reject .com and .org sites, since some government and university pages merely repeat things found elsewhere, and many top scientific publishers and major organizations have .com or .org sites. These are just a basic indication. Once you've loaded the site, look at its contents. Do its conclusions sound reasonable? Do they agree with what you already know to be true, or do they contradict what you know? Do the authors respect other writers on their subject, or do they claim to fight against conspiracies to suppress true knowledge? Is the site well-written with good spelling and grammar, or does it appear to be casually put together? Are there citations for the information appearing on the site, or does the site just make claims without evidence? Sometimes, there's room for revolutionary discoveries that disprove existing thinking, and conspiracies have existed in history, but those situations are rare. Most commonly, a site claiming revolutionary findings or claiming to be the victim of a conspiracy is promoting claims that are untrustworthy. Finally, look at the authors of information on a site, and look at the site's maintainer. If an article lists its author's name and credentials, does the author have degrees in the field? Is the author a researcher or merely an amateur? If the site is run by a company, is it a scientific publisher or a company that might be promoting something that it sells? Look for the website's "About us" page. Major publishing companies like Springer, Taylor and Francis, and Elsevier have many academic books and journals on their own websites, and these resources are among the highest-quality resources in their fields. If the website says that it's run by a university press, it's a scholarly publisher run by a university; university presses are generally even better than the top commercial publishers. Last, look at your university's library website. Your librarians can't list most websites or even most publishers, but if your librarians have recommended a source, it's essentially certain to be a reliable source for your field.

Subject: US History

TutorMe
Question:

What factors reduced the prosperity of Ohio River port towns in the later nineteenth century?

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Nathaniel P.
Answer:

In the early nineteenth century, many Ohio River towns dominated their states' economies, largely because of the simplicity of water transportation: they had been settled earlier than locations farther from the river, and settlers in those locations needed to ship their products through those towns. Furthermore, the success of the Erie Canal prompted widescale construction of canals connected to the Ohio River, which caused the larger rivertowns to grow even faster. However, as the century went on, many of these port towns fell into relative obscurity. Some towns fell into obscurity merely because of the growth of other towns in better locations. In early Illinois, Shawneetown grew fast because it occupied a convenient landing, but it was not a particularly convenient port, and once better-situated settlements were founded, they saw greater traffic. Other towns were heavily dependent on canal traffic, and with the rise of railroads, these towns could no longer count on receiving water traffic from far inland. Many smaller settlements served merely local traffic, and as the railroads spread, farmers and shopkeepers found themselves far closer to a depot and preferred this new form of transportation that could operate even in winter. Some larger river towns, like Madison, Indiana, occupied terrain that was largely inaccessible to rail lines, and as the railroads simply could not reach these towns, they bypassed them for more convenient towns. Even towns convenient to railroads, like Cairo, Illinois, saw reduced traffic as bridge-building technology enabled the spanning of the river: the general drop in river traffic meant far less demand for port facilities, and the faster speed of the railroad enabled trains to cross the rivers wihout any need to stop at these towns. The advent of steamboats and the disappearance of non-mechanized boats, like the rise of the railroads, led to the demise of smaller towns, as steamboats could travel farther and had little reason to stop at smaller landings. And finally, as the Ohio River formed the border between slave and free states for most of its length, the chaos of the Civil War greatly increased the danger of river shipping. Commercial and passenger transportation shifted even more to railroads that were less vulnerable to cross-river raids, and while some towns prospered from Union Navy installations, this prosperity disappeared at the war's end, and ordinary peacetime traffic never fully returned.

Subject: European History

TutorMe
Question:

After the Glorious Revolution, religious policy in Scotland transitioned from suppression of dissenting churches to toleration. What effects did this have on the place of the Church of Scotland in national religious life over the next two centuries?

Inactive
Nathaniel P.
Answer:

As a result of the Scottish Reformation, the Church of Scotland ceased to be Roman Catholic. Its doctrine and practice combined elements of what today are called Presbyterianism and Anglicanism; the religious affiliation of the dominant power in the state periodically caused the Church to move closer to one or the other. During this era, all parties expected the Church to comprise everyone in Scottish society, and during the period of Presbyterian ascendency in the mid-17th century, two "Covenants" bound the state to tight Presbyterianism. The church and state worked together to disincentivize dissent, both from Catholics and other Protestants, and dissenters characteristically sought to gain ascendency instead of existing permanently as dissenters. After the Restoration, when the state rejected the Covenants and ensured that the Church became Anglican, the strict Presbyterians ("Covenanters") rebelled against the state and were militarily suppressed, but because their leaders still preached warfare against the state to enable re-establishment of Presbyterianism, adherents were occasionally arrested and executed. Following the Glorious Revolution, state policy turned to toleration, and the Church became Presbyterian again. The Covenanters continued to dissent from the Church, but only religiously, and ceased their rebellion. However, the legalization of dissent enabled the proliferation of denominations. The remaining Anglicans formed the Scottish Episcopal Church, the country's remaining Catholics suffered fewer legal disabilities (eventually regaining nearly all legal rights in the 1790s), the Covenanters formed the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and members of the Church of Scotland who found themselves in disagreement with the Church became more likely to leave and form new churches. The right of landowners to appoint clergy prompted the appearance of the Associate Presbyterian Church in the 1730s and the Relief Church in the 1760s. More than one-third of the entire Church of Scotland left for similar reasons and formed the Free Church in 1843. And finally, new denominations, such as Methodists, gradually began to establish a presence in the country. By the 200th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, the Church of Scotland remained dominant in Scottish religious life. However, the concept of a single church for the entire country had been supplanted by the concept of religious tolerance and the idea that dissenters were entitled to operate their own churches, rather than being forced to conform. Consequently, the single Church gradually transitioned from being the focus of national religious life to being merely the largest example of that life.

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