What is the History Commons?* One of the most important and invisible, useful and unknown websites on the internet — and without better funding, it may disappear from the web. You might not have heard of it, but it’s been used and referenced by an array of well-known investigative authors and journalists, including Glenn Greenwald, Craig Unger, James Ridgeway and Peter Lance; see section at this article’s end. HistoryCommons.org is a documentation & research tool driven by a relational database and public input, with editorial oversight. It’s proof-in-practice of the Mosaic Theory of Intelligence Gathering, but for the public interest, the people, our posterity and future generations. HistoryCommons.org is best known for the Complete 9/11 Timeline, but the site hosts over 30 timeline projects on diverse subjects such as elections, wars and foreign interventions, civil liberties, health care, climate change, and other important domestic and foreign policy issues.
Searching HistoryCommons.org reveals important connections and context with easy-to-read entries organized in easy-to-follow timelines. When someone types in the name of a person, organization, place or date, e.g. Osama Bin Laden, relevant entries appear in contextual timelines, revealing relationships and information that might otherwise not be obvious. The free-to-use History Commons takes complex sets of credibly-sourced information and presents them in ways that make it simpler for you to find the information you’re looking for — and understand its significance.
The History Commons welcomes volunteer input from human beings worldwide, as contributors writing new entries on current and historical events, and as editors checking facts and guidelines. Using credible sources and following a standard format, civilians anywhere in the world can write and submit entries at HistoryCommons.org, helping to improve the public’s understanding of significant events and agents. As an editor, you make sure entries are factual and neutral, as well as credibly-sourced and stylistically-consistent. All donors and contributors are helping to maintain public oversight of powerful institutions, and honest stewardship of the body of public knowledge.
HistoryCommons.org is run by the underfunded, unsung Derek Mitchell of the Center for Grassroots Oversight. No one is paid, current contributions aren’t covering basic maintenance, and the site goes down periodically. A years-planned overhaul and upgrade of the site has not gotten underway due to lack of funds — and fund-raising expertise.
If you care about the History Commons and appreciate its contribution to the world, please donate now at HistoryCommons.org, and/or appeal to others to do so. Spread the word about the History Commons. If you have experience in PR, fund-raising, grant-writing, etc., and can offer your services pro bono, please contact HistoryCommons.org today.
Please click here to donate to History Commons.
*DISCLOSURE: I’m a supporter of and contributor to History Commons.
From the History Commons Home Page
A Revolution is Coming: What is the HistoryCommons? A webapp that enables crowdsourced investigative journalism A platform for collaborating on the documentation of history. An intelligence tool for the people — A people’s version of the NSA.
What can people do with the HistoryCommons? Generate instant timelines and bibliographies about 1000s of different topics, events, people, corporations, and more. Contribute content and research Collaborate with others to investigate or research a particular issue. Generate instant “context” timelines for any given event or keyword.
Praise for the History Commons
From the Commentary section of the Wikipedia article on History Commons:
Numerous individuals have given feedback on the History Commons, often praising it for its uniqueness and usefulness.
In a 2009 e-mail to the site, author Philip Shenon, a veteran New York Times reporter and author of The Commission, a book about the 9/11 Commission, wrote: “Your timeline has been invaluable to me over the years. I’m certainly aware of — and flattered by — your citations from my book.” 
Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud  and The Fall of the House of Bush, wrote: “For serious research, it’s hard to think of a more valuable resource than the timelines assembled by History Commons. The material they provide is a welcome antidote to the misinformation and disinformation that has been coming out of Washington in recent years and they are essential tools in assembling a counter-narrative that more honestly addresses the crises we face.” In his acknowledgements to House of Bush, House of Saud, Unger wrote: “The Center for Cooperative Research is another valuable Internet tool. Because I made a practice of citing original sources, it does not appear in my notes nearly as often as it might. However, its timelines about 911 and related issues often helped me find exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend it to anyone doing research on 9/11 and I encourage its support.”
Author Peter Lance wrote, in the acknowledgements of his book Cover-Up: “As mentioned throughout, I was blessed in this state of my research with access to Paul Thompson’s remarkable timelines from the Center for Cooperative Research … each citation in that database is supported by a news story from the mainstream media. … Any research, reporter, or scholar with an interest in the war on terror would consider the Cooperative Research timelines a bonanza of open source information.” 
Village Voice correspondent James Ridgeway wrote in April 2004: “Paul Thompson … is one of a handful of freelance, unpaid, amateur sleuths who have become a 9/11 Information Central — what amounts to an intelligence apparatus aimed at pinning down what the Bush administration knew and didn’t know about 9/11, before and after the attacks. The results of this sleuthing often find their way to the 9/11 families, and in particular, to the by now mythic Jersey Girls, as the leaders of the survivors’ families have come to be called. The researchers are in many ways similar to the team Scott Armstrong, the former Washington Post reporter, recruited in the mid 1980s to uncover the roots of Reagan’s secret Iran-Contra deals. … At the hub of the 9–11 research is [Paul] Thompson’s intricate timeline. … Still other timelines delve into official ‘lies’ from 1979 forward. … [Derek] Mitchell’s aim is to keep the entries as neutrally written and as well sourced as he can.”  In his 2005 book, The Five Unanswered Questions of 9/11, Ridgeway referred to Thompson’s book, The Terror Timeline, as “still the most comprehensive summary of the events related to the 9/11 attacks.” At that time, the book contained only a significant fraction of the total amount of information contained in The Complete 9/11 Timeline at CooperativeResearch.org, and a great deal of material has since been added.
Minneapolis City Pages reporter Steve Perry wrote in 2003 that the History Commons is “endlessly informative.” 
Daniel Erlacher, the director of Austria’s Elevate Festival, wrote in an e-mail to the site:
The History Commons is one of the most important and technologically advanced projects of civil journalism there is today. The website of the project is an enormous resource for researchers. Because of the excellent possibilities to tag entities and to group them in timetables, people can easily read and filter information, which is usually presented out of context. The History Commons is a project which helps connect the dots and sheds light on several inconsistencies in official narratives of some of the most important stories of our time. The Elevate Festival was very proud to present the project for the first time in Europe in 2008 and we will continue to support it.
Matthew Hurst wrote on his Data Mining blog in 2008: “The site is a cooperative approach to history and presents data in timelines. … I like this vertical approach to wiki data as it has the potential to focus both expertise and data structures, making the data more valuable in a number of dimensions.” 
Author David Ray Griffin wrote in the acknowledgements of his book The New Pearl Harbor Revisited
In acknowledging the tremendous amount of help and support I received in writing this book, I wish to begin by mentioning the indispensable source for 9/11-related stories published in the mainstream press: The Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons (formerly known as Cooperative Research). … [I]t has surely become, through the continuing work of [Paul] Thompson and his colleagues, the greatest feat of annotated, investigative journal indexing ever achieved on a volunteer basis. Having served as the source of about half of my references in The New Pearl Harbor, this timeline has been equally indispensable for The New Pearl Harbor Revisited.
Matthew Phelan, in an column for Gawker on NSA misuse of authorities, referred to factual information about significant entities and events being “dutifully logged at places like History Commons where … people like to go to collaboratively try and figure out what the hell is going on, post-9/11.”