New Congressional Record available to view

New Congressional Record available to view

For the political science nerds and those who love original source documents, this from the GPO:

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the Library of Congress (LC) to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1991-1998 on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers debates of the 102nd thru 105th Congresses. This era of Congress covers historical topics such as:

  • The Persian Gulf War
  • Bill Clinton’s Presidency
  • NAFTA
  • Enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Republicans gaining control of both the House and Senate since 1954

You can read the rest of the release here, and access the records here.

Saturday Librarian: The WiFi strikes back

Hopefully everyone had a lovely weekend and start to the week. I’m planning to start the Saturday posts again now that the semester has begun, and I have a few fun items from the library to highlight on Thursday’s as well.

This past week, I was able to introduce the students to the ILL program which was big for me. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but for four years I sat in the upper classroom of the library, soaking in all manner of thoughts, phrases, and ideas. Arguing and pondering and generally enjoying the years. And for a brief 15 minute window, I stood at the front of that classroom and I was the expert on one small area. A bit of the goosebumps with that one, no lie.

Saturday dawned with such promise. I had my first pumpkin coffee of the fall, got to campus nice and early since I had to leave early, and I had grand plans of finalizing the server set up that was interrupted by the lack of internet followed by locked down internet. I had confirmed that the WiFi was back up, unlocked, and strong with internet flowing like a river when I was on campus Monday.

You can guess where this is going…

Yeah, the unlocked WiFi network was flakier than a croissant, with nowhere near the connectivity I needed to make sure that the client box would continue to see the server without failing at some point. So back to the drawing board on that one– I’m not in IT, Jim, I’m a librarian darn it! (Oh come on, Star Trek turned 50 this past week!)

I did manage to get our lovely check out cards cut up and available for the students:

This librarian is running on Dunkin Punkin and cutting up checkout slips. #librariesofinstagram #librarylife #collegethomasmore

A post shared by Alexis the Librarian (@alibraryforallseasons) on

So I had that going for me! We also have all the library books shelved. Yes, ALL of them! I have 3 awesome student workers this semester which is the most I’ve had before and man are they quick with the shelving! With the WiFi declaring that we shall not catalog, the focus at the moment is moving the art and music collections into the Music room. That will fit better from a collection standpoint and clear nearly an aisle’s worth of shelf space in the Stacks, which we can use to hold acquisitions.

Lastly, I updated the official library website. Did you know we had an official library website? The plan was to run some WordPress plug-ins to simulate an online catalog but the move from development to production didn’t work out as planned and so the decision was made to abandon that half step and move to the complete catalog solution.

But! We have the site so we might as well use it. You can find the ILL policy and circulation policy, and I am curating digital resources for student use on the site as well. To see any of these, go to Library.thomasmorecollege.edu and check it out! Drop me a line if there are any digital resources you think would be helpful, or if you’ve tried to fined resources for a certain type of research and come up empty and we’ll take a look.

Digital Resource: the Hammer Museum and Digital Archive

Digital Resource: the Hammer Museum and Digital Archive

The Hammer Museum is on the campus of UCLA, so I imagine that a majority of folks haven’t been able to view the collection. I was able to visit the Hammer as part of a tour of LA Area museums (which is a blog for another time but also a totally worthwhile trip). The Hammer recently received a grant to digitize some of their archives and exhibits.

The first exhibit is an examination of African American art in Los Angeles during the 1960s. The art from the exhibit is online, as are the lectures, essays, and presentations that surrounded the exhibit. They are planning on two more exhibits with the same supporting information as well.

This is a good example of the rise of digital exhibits in the museum and library world– we can’t travel as often as we’d like or visit all the museums we may want to, and the rise of these digital archives allows us to see more exhibits, view more art, and hopefully experience more than we otherwise might have.

Good to Know: Harvard digitizing case law collection

For all the budding lawyers out there, WBUR has a write up on a digitization project going on at Harvard:

Historically, libraries have been collections — books, multimedia materials and artwork. But increasingly they’re about connections, linking digital data in new and different ways. The Caselaw Access Project is a state-of-the-art example of that shift.

“So what’s going to result from this project is a huge database of electronic, digital court decisions,” Ziegler explained. “And the world of law has never seen that before.”

I like the idea that all of the case law will be freely accessible (far more so than the books that are in storage currently.) And per the article, the physical books will still be kept in storage should anything go wrong.

Born on the 4th of July…

Born on the 4th of July…

Happy 4th of July from the 9th state to join the party! New Hampshire takes Independence Day seriously, as one might imagine, and there are parades and games and celebrations all over the state.

The American Founding is one of the eras of history that holds my interest, and has for some time (nearly 20 years at this point!). You can squarely lay the credit/blame at the feet of my mother, who had us reading out of the old school McGuffy’s readers from Kindergarten onward. The older volumes contained heavy amounts of classical works and Founders, though at the time Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington were the major highlights. Adams, Madison, and Hamilton were still awaiting their renaissance (James Wilson is still waiting for his. Ask me about him some time).

Mom gets full credit for bringing 1776 into my life — yes, we’ve had musicals about the founding before Hamilton!

All kidding aside, July 4th presents us with a day every year that we can use to reflect on our origins — on who these men were, what they’re thoughts and writings contain, what they’re hopes and doubts and fears were. The fact of the matter is, while declaring independence was not a compromise, everything else really was. Most have abandoned the view that the Founders were demigods with a divine mandate, but where does that leave us? Have we conceived of our own history as Adams said we might?

The Essence of the whole will be that Dr Franklins electrical Rod, Smote the Earth and out Spring General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his Rod—and thence forward these two conducted all the Policy Negotiations Legislation and War. These underscored Lines contain the whole Fable Plot and Catastrophy. if this Letter should be preserved, and read an hundred Years hence the Reader will say “the Envy of this J.A. could not bear to think of the Truth”! [1}

I hope not. Technology is to our advantage here. When I was working on my Junior Project 9 years ago, there were few online resources to be had. Most were locked behind paywalls when they existed, and poor college students do not have the option or luxury of traveling from historical society to museum to National Archive outpost to the Library of Congress to get all their research together. Some of that is still required for the serious student, but the rest of us are able to learn more these days by taking advantage of digitization

  • The National Archive has put together a digital collection entitled Founders Online. The collection is made up of the papers of Ben Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Because of the prolific nature of correspondence in those days, every other major and minor Founder makes at least a cameo in the exhibit. Fun note: Abigail Adams has 988 records that she authored housed in the collection. Abigail is pretty much excellent, and you should read her letters as well as those of her husband– theirs is a classic love story.
  • The National Archives also has a Boston location. Check their page for hours and holdings if you’re in the midst of research.
  • The Archives have had an exhibit up for some time entitled “The Charters of Freedom” which provide images and resources for the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
  • The Library of Congress has a number of resources. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: the library was established in 1800 by act of Congress (signed by John Adams, not Jefferson). The original library was burned in 1814 along with most of the rest of Washington DC, and it was at that point that Jefferson donated his library.
  • The Library has online access to the following collections: Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (1774 – 1789); The George Washington Papers (1741 – 1799); The Thomas Jefferson Papers (1606 – 1827); and the James Madison Papers, 1723 – 1859.
  • Closer to home, the New Hampshire Historical Society has collections related to NH statehood, including the period of the Revolution. Those, for the most part, are not digital but Concord isn’t far from Merrimack!
  • The Massachusetts Historical society has a number of resources available in person in Boston, but there is also a digital exhibit entitled The Coming of the American Revolution which is of interest as well.
  • Also in Boston is the Freedom Trail, full of sites tied to the Revolution, including the Old State House, the Site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church, and Old Ironsides — the USS Constitution.
  • Finally, there is the Online Library of Liberty, which has a large collection of works by the Founders, covering the Declaration, the War, and the Constitution.

(Writing) Camp time!

Happy July to you all! The summer here in New England is probably just as it ought to be: warm verging on hot, humid beyond reason, and green, green, green. Being not a fan of humidity, I find myself able to stand the great outdoors for less time than I would like, and since one can’t spend all day at the library (I mean, you could but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing).

For those among us who enjoy writing, I turn your attention to two points of interesting. First, Camp NaNoWriMo starts today! For those familiar with National Novel Writing Month, Camp is a less intense version. You have more flexibility in the type of project and the word goal — its mainly a fun way to hold yourself accountable to your writing goals. After all, if you let yourself slide, you’ll go months and months without putting a word on the page or Word document or whatever your method may be– not that I would know anything about that… ahem… moving on!

Second, 2016 is really a great year for literary anniversaries. Last week we touched on the 500th anniversary of the publication of Utopia. Today, I will draw your attention to the 200th anniversary of the composition of Frankenstein. The general origins of the story are fairly well known: during the summer of 1816 (also known as “The Year without a Summer”), Mary Wollstonecroft not-yet-Shelley wrote Frankenstein on a dare. Since we’ve reached the 200th anniversary, Arizona State University has a number of resources available under the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project. As part of this, ASU is sponsoring The Frankenstein Dare, a contest to write a short story exploring the relationship between monsters and their creators. Check it out!

The Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme

Today marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, considered one of the deadliest battles in human history. The Battle began on July 1, 1916 and did not conclude until November 18. During that time, the British and French saw a combined 794,238 casualties. The Germans saw 537,918 casualties. Those numbers are simply staggering — 1.3 million men dead or wounded in a single (albeit protracted) battle.

British and French forces were able to gain 6 miles during this time. That was with the introduction of the tank and air support. The Battle of the Somme was the second deadliest battle in World War I by casualties, and only two campaigns in World War II were more deadly.

I remember my history classes talking about the deadliest conflicts in American history– Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Appomattox. And those were battles that obviously included American casualties, the Somme did not. For comparison purposes? 310,486 men died in the Battle of the Somme. 204,000 died in the American Civil War. These are deaths, not included casualties, prisoners of war, or those who died in prison. Just take a moment to consider that. 1 battle lasting 4 months saw more death than a war that lasted 4 years.

At the same time that men were losing their lives, limbs, and minds in record numbers, there was a huge volume of poetry produced. The Poetry of World War I generally comes from the British side of things, the doughboys who found ways to record the horror that was unfolding in front of them night and day in trenches that were hardly conducive to, well, anything other than disease.

The Poetry Foundation has a collection of Poetry from the time, organized by year with the major battles noted. The selection includes works from Thomas Hardy, Robert Stevens, Edith Wharton, William Butler Yeats, Siegfried Sasson, Wilfred Owen, Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound, and GK Chesterton. Some served, some watched from home, so there are a variety of view points represented.

Oxford has a Digital Archive of poetry from the First World War. Among the various artifacts that have been made available, I was struck by the revisions of Dulce et Decorum Est. While I’ve linked to one there are several. Wilfred Owen did not survive the war — he died at the age of 25, one week before the Armistice was signed.

There are any number of poems that were written during the War and in the aftermath of the War; written by those at home and on the front. The following have been recommended to me: In Flanders Field by John McCrae, The Shield of Achilles by WH Auden, Prayer of a Solider in France by Joyce Kilmer, The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, and the aforementioned Dulce et Decorum Est.

I know there are a number of JRR Tolkien fans out there, so it bears reminding that Tolkien was in the trenches at the Somme. In interviews later in his life, Tolkien would recall writing first drafts that would become Middle Earth in the trenches of France under shell fire. The New York Times has a good article on the connection between the great evils and battles of Middle Earth and the Somme.

For those who favor historical records, the British National Archives have digitized the British Army War Diaries from 1914 to 1922, covering the entirety of the war. They also have a crowdsourcing project for those interested; Operation War Diary allows anyone to help comb through the 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries from World War 1 and help note and annotate them, pulling out details as you can.

Finally, for those who prefer novels from the time, there are certainly scads of them out there. I highly recommend Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Most will know the author from her Anne of Green Gables books and Emily of New Moon books. Rilla of Ingleside is actually the 8th Anne of Green Gables book, telling the story of Anne and Gilbert’s children — all of them in their teens and 20s at the onset of the War. Montgomery’s novel is World War 1 from the home front, and in fact is the only Canadian novel written about World War 1 by a woman and told from a woman’s perspective. Rilla is also an example of uncomfortable history — the novel had several thousand words trimmed from it, not because they were inaccurate but because of heavy anti-German sentiment. That was the only version available until about 6 years ago, so be on the look out for the edited and unedited versions.