Language is, among many things, ever evolving. Also fun. I mean, you have to approach it with some fun, don’t you? How many brands of humor involve words, after all?
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED for those of us on a first name/had to haul it out of the stacks into the Cremens room basis) publishes updates once a quarter– language is ever changing after all. This quarter had a fair bit of fun in it, though, as the folks at the OED celebrated the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth. So if you ever need to find a definition for frightsome, scrumptious, splendiferousness, or scrumdiddlyumtious, you’ll know where to go
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.
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.
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!
We are something of a ‘divided’ household when it comes to the Inklings: I’m a CS Lewis fan, my husband is very much a Tolkien fan. That’s not to say that we don’t read both, more to say where preferences lie. Whichever you prefer, the original illustrations for Lord of the Rings and Narnia are in the same style, having been done by the same artist.
The map in question was actually found among the books of the artist, Pauline Baynes. The Guardian has a good write up on the map, which you can find here. You’ll also want to make sure you check out the write up from Bodleian about the acquisition– it includes a picture of the map as well as the post map that Baynes illustrated in 1970.
I was in Oxford once, though it was only for about 2 hours so I wasn’t able to go really anywhere that I wanted to. For those who have been, did you see anything from the Tolkien collection? Or any of the other special collections?