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The very modern Internet offers a wealth of information on the past. Websites dedicated to the history of everything that came before today are available with a few clicks of the mouse. Whether you are a student in high school considering history as a major or are actively pursuing online college courses, these top 40 websites are "must haves" in your bookmark list.

These sites have been sorted into categories to make it easier to find exactly what you want. If you're looking for the history of America, wars that raged across the world or even documentaries that delve deeper into the topics you enjoy, you can find it easily. Scroll down and get ready to bookmark a few great discoveries.

War and the shape of our world

War is the force that changes boundaries, topples governments and restructures our society. By studying the movements of war -- from the initial seed of conquest to the full-scale attacks of an army bent on victory -- we learn crucial lessons for understanding the history of our world. These websites are perfect ammunition for the historical scholar.

  1. History in Focus: War. This collection of helpful resources focuses on the economies of war, social ramifications, revolutions and even gender biases in wartime. There are also lists of research citations, reviews, articles and more.
  2. Civil War History. The ramifications of the war between the states are everywhere, well over a century past the last shot fired. This blog explores everything from the cost of the war to current events and policies still affected by that time in American history.
  3. U.S. Army Center of Military History. Learn about America's role in war and peace, both foreign and domestic. From the origin of the 21-gun salute to Elvis Presley's military career, you might be surprised by what you find here.
  4. First World War. This site offers timelines, collections of correspondence, photographs and other media that help present World War I with historical accuracy.
  5. The War Scholar. This timeline allows you to zero in on the era that matters most to your research. From the crusades to Vietnam, it's all right here.

How America became a nation

If your tastes in history run to the Declaration of Independence, Hoover Dam, baseball and apple pie, these are the sites you want. They are like the Highway 66 of the Internet -- a fun journey with a good dose of American history thrown in.

  1. American Heritage. Thousands of stories on everything from colonial times to the Cold War make this site a must-read for those who are into understanding what shaped the United States. The National Portal to Historic Collections can suck you in for hours of education.
  2. Native Web. The Native American tribes shaped our country long before the Mayflower made the journey. This archive offers a wealth of information on the history of a proud people.
  3. USHistory.org. Created by the Independence Hall Association of Philadelphia, this site offers information on the founding history of the United States. That's just the beginning -- you will also find links to dozens of other historical websites hosted by the same organization.
  4. History Matters. This "U.S. Survey Course on the Web" is designed for teachers. There is much education to be had, and high-quality links that offer even more knowledge and insight.
  5. American Historical Association. Founded in 1884, the AHA presents numerous publications, resources, grants, fellowships and job information for those who are determined to make a career out of their historical obsessions.
  6. NAACP: 100 Years of History. This information-packed section of the NAACP site delivers insight and knowledge about the movers and shakers of the civil rights movement.
  7. Library of Congress: American Memory. This is where you can find the historical documents that gave our nation it's first laws, rights and promises.

When the natural world and industry collide

Are you fascinated by global warming? Curious about what happened to the dinosaurs? Or are you more interested in the industrial age and what fuels the world as we know it? Whether you are looking to save the planet or expand it, these links can enlighten.

  1. Natural History. This is the go-to site for natural history buffs. Regularly updated, the site features modern articles alongside those from the early 1900's.
  2. National Geographic. The storied magazine has been educating readers about the planet since 1888. Geography, natural science, archaeology and conservation take center stage in this comprehensive, easy-to-navigate website.
  3. National Museum of Industrial History. Constructions, transportation, energy and more are covered in this very detailed site about the growth of industry and how it shaped America while helping solidify the nation's place in the world.
  4. PBS: Evolution. How does our natural world change over time, and what changes are happening right now that will go down in history? This informative guide has plenty of answers.
  5. Globalization and the Economic Crisis. As our world grows by leaps and bounds, so do our challenges. This site focuses on economies across the world and the part the U.S. plays in each.

Go in-depth with visual media

Looking for a break from the textbook? Want to sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of history? These sites offer the chance to pop some popcorn, dim the lights and take notes on some of the most interesting historical moments in our time.

  1. Top Documentary Films. From civil rights to housekeeping, you never know what you might find in this vast collection of documentaries.
  2. Streaming Madness. The history section of this site is a treasure trove of documentaries that focus on fascinating topics like Mayan civilization and who built Stonehenge. While you're there, check out the biology and social issues channels -- several of those documentaries have a historical slant.
  3. Free Documentaries Online. Want to learn about the history of video games? How about ghost ships or the Manhattan Project? These documentaries are free and the site is frequently updated.
  4. Ancient History Documentaries. If modern history is too young for you, try this place. These documentaries delve into the very start of our civilization, from the Great Pyramids to the potential presence of ancient aliens.
  5. Science Documentaries. Got questions about the history of the natural world? Wonder how it all came to be and how we got here in the first place? This site explores the questions and tries to find answers.

The whole nine yards

Want to know a little bit about everything? These catch-all sites are comprehensive, loaded with information and easy to navigate.

  1. History Net. This site is run by the Weider History Group, the largest publisher of history magazines in the world. With over 5,000 articles on everything from the Wild West to the Civil War to aviation, there is something for everyone.
  2. History Magazine. This storied publication has covered everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the fall of the Roman Empire. This is the place to find both new subscriptions and back issues on topics that interest you.
  3. History Extra. The official site of BBC History Magazine has articles, blogs, quizzes, book reviews and so much more. There's even a forum where you can add your own questions and opinions on the historical news of the day.
  4. History Today. This site offers article archives dating back to 1980 on a wide variety of subjects that matters to those who love world history. Choose from themes, location and time periods to get started.
  5. Best of History Websites. This education resource offers links to over 1,200 history websites, as well as plenty of goodies for teachers. The links are divided into numerous categories for easy searching.
  6. History.com. This website of the very popular History Channel offers articles, documentaries, full episodes and much more. From the Big Bang to skyscrapers, this is a site where the past really does come alive.
  7. The Library -- University of California Berkeley. Type in "history" as a keyword and you will get a whopping 32,000 entries. Use this site as a starting point for finding that elusive history book or article that you need to wow your professors.
  8. Discovery News. The website of the popular television channel, Discovery News offers a comprehensive section on history. From Arab Spring to ancient tombs, this site has a little bit of everything.
  9. The History Guide. Whether you are looking for information on the crusades or the Bolshevik Revolution, this site offers information in the form of lectures geared toward those in high school or college.
  10. The Wayback Machine. Looking for what was chronicled on the fledgling Internet in 1996? This archive of intriguing websites offers some modern nostalgia.
  11. Internet Modern History Sourcebook. Designed for teachers, this site has an impressive list of topics and in-depth information on each.
  12. The Avalon Project. This unique website offers important documents relating to law, history and diplomacy. It's thorough -- the archives go back to 4000 BC.

Putting history into action

Historical research can be a very solitary pursuit, but there are times when you are just bursting to share all you've learned. Are you ready to talk shop with your fellow history buffs? Try out these places.

  1. Phi Alpha Theta: National History Honor Society. Whether you are on a traditional campus or taking online college courses, this honor society can introduce you to resources, job postings and a community of history buffs that can help make history your future.
  2. The Institute for Historical Study. This community of history scholars offers excellent research, insights and public discussion on history and how it shapes our planet.
  3. National Council on Public History. How does our society shift and change through history? How can this past be analyzed and taught in such a way that makes it useful to the public? If this interests you, this site will keep your attention.
  4. North American Society for Sport History. Who says American history has to focus on politics and social movement? Jackie Robinson, baseball and even the Frisbee are sports history icons that got their start in the United States.
  5. National Trust for Historic Preservation. If you are planning a road trip to visit the historical sites you have read about in textbooks, this site is a goldmine of information.
  6. The Society for Military History. The site of the Journal of Military History offers a ton of information, prizes, opportunities and an impressive list of links to expand your research.

Ready to explore the world as it was yesterday, a century ago or a million years ago? These top 40 resources for history majors are a great place to begin your search into the past.