In the 1990s students typically worked from traditional bound versions of orginal sources - journals, collected letters, speeches, court briefs and decision and the like. In the last decade the Internet has made many such sources available in electronic form and easily accessible to anyone who can get online.
The impact on our research project has been striking. Most of our students now read their primary sources online and only print out selected sections or items. Many depend primarily on historical newspaper archives. These have made searching for articles, editorials and letters to the editor on particular topics a process to be measured in minutes rather than in days or weeks spent slogging through the Readers Guide to Periodicals and microfiche. This vastly improved access to an old and rich set of resources has allowed students to spend more of their time studying their sources and crafting their analysis.