As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ballgame - At Fenway

I can’t say I spent my day working on my blog. Instead I was in Boston, enjoying a hot June afternoon in the city with my children. The highlight was a tour of Fenway Park where we sat in the Monster ("Monstah") seats for the first, and probably the last, time. I did manage to come up with some blog fodder from my visit to MLB’s oldest ballpark. The Internet Archive features a digitized copy of George V. Tuohey’s work A History of the Boston Base Ball Club: A Concise and Accurate History of Baseball from its Inception. After perusing that 200-plus-page work, which was published 113 years ago, I realized that Tuohey was writing about the National League’s Boston Red Stockings, later known as the Beaneaters, and finally the Boston Braves. The Braves franchise would move to Milwaukee from Massachusetts in 1953 before heading to Atlanta in 1966.

Okay, so maybe Tuohey wasn’t writing about our beloved American League Red Sox. Still, I was struck by his description of the euphoric atmosphere in the city following the Boston National League team’s successful 1897 season.
“Boston was baseball crazy, and every man, woman and child in the city was imbued with a healthful spirit of local pride that speaks well for the Boston Baseball Club.”
It sounds a lot like the atmosphere around here in October of 2004 and 2007.

This little piece of baseball history also points to the value of The Internet Archive. The archive’s website describes it as “... building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.”

In the archive, you’ll find digitized texts from libraries around the world, video recordings, sound recordings, live music recordings, archived websites and much, much more. If you’re stumped on where to find a primary source, give it a try. You might be surprised by what you turn up. Time and time again it's proved helpful to students I work with.

The picture above was taken by me on Tuesday afternoon. It shows the Fenway grounds crew preparing for that evening's game against the Devil Rays.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Get your kicks (reading about travels) on Route 66

I just finished reading The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian. I loved the story of John and Ella – an ailing elderly couple who decide to ditch their pestering doctors, their hovering children and their confining Detroit-area home to embark on one last road trip. They pack up their 78 Leisure Seeker RV and follow the fading path of Old Route 66 to Disneyland. While doing some additional reading about the history of Route 66, I learned that on this day in 1985 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decertified the road and voted to remove all its highway signs. While the road is disappearing, there are a number of digital repositories featuring Route 66 resources. Taken together, those oral histories, photographs, tourist pamphlets and travelogues tell the story of the 2,200-mile road that stretched from Illinois to California. Among those collections are Route 66 in New Mexico: Archival Materials from the University of New Mexico Libraries digital collections, Route 66 Collections from Oklahoma State University – Tulsa Library, and America on the Move, a Smithsonian exhibit that traces the travels of four young women on America’s Highway. The picture above comes from the University of New Mexico. Happy travels.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Does Dust Bowl top the list of the nation's worst environmental disasters?

As oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico, environmental historians are debating where the spill ranks on the list of the country’s most devastating environmental disasters. Commenting in the New York Times this week, Ted Steinberg, a historian at Case Western Reserve University, argued the Dust Bowl was “one of the worst ecological blunders in world history”.

There are a host of sites that feature primary sources pertaining to the Dust Bowl. Through images, personal narratives and government documents, those sites detail the decade-long devastation visited on the Great Plains. Some of those sites are: the Dust Bowl Migration Digital Archives at California State University, Bakersfield; Voices from the Dust Bowl, part of the Library of Congress American Memory Project, Surviving the Dust Bowl, the companion website to the PBS American Experience program by the same name and NASA’s website, which provides a collection of Dust Bowl images.

The image above comes from the Federal National Resources Conservation Service.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ted Kennedy's FBI files reveal constant death threats, point to rich source of Freedom of Information Act data

FBI documents released earlier this week reveal that the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was the subject of constant death threats. Those documents, requested by news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), are available on the FBI’s website. While perusing those files, I discovered that the FBI’s website has a FOIA page which provides access to a wide assortment of documents made public as a result of FOIA requests. The subjects of those documents are diverse: Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, Albert Einstein and John Steinbeck. The details contained in those some of those papers – such as the reports on the Massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School – are startling and troubling. The records on the FOIA site span decades. It could be of particular use to students searching for primary sources about particular criminal investigations of historical interest.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mineral desposits in Afghanistan: Will the wealth below the ground alter the war on it?

Today’s New York Times features an article that details the discovery of some $1 trillion worth of minerals in Afghanistan. That finding of stores of copper, cobalt, gold and industrial metals has far-reaching ramifications. It’s possible that Afghanistan might evolve into one of the world’s most important mining centers. According the article such an evolution could “fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself”. The piece notes that Afghanistan has exiting mining law in place, drawn up with the assistance of the World Bank.

I turned to the World Bank’s website for some additional information from the agency’s Oil, Gas, and Mining Policy Division. There, I  found information on the World Bank's involvement in international mining initiatives and details about some of the most pressing mining-related issues now at hand, including: mining’s impact on the environment, local economic development and poverty reduction efforts. My browsing also reminded me of what a valuable resource the World Bank website is for contemporary primary source data about that agency's projects and operations. Those efforts, which range from protection of water resources, to development of transportation infrastructure to the support of health and social service agencies, are designed to support low-income and middle-income countries’ poverty reduction efforts.

The above picture of Afghan miners comes from the Afghan Embassy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The History of the World Cup in Words and Images

This lovely afternoon, my soccer-loving family will be planted in front of the television, watching the USA vs. England in World Cup action. In honor of that international sporting spectacular, I spent my morning hunting for information about the tournament’s history. The FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) website provides a wealth of historical information and images about past World Cups, dating back to the 1930 tournament in Uruguay. Go USA!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Women's Political Communication Archive - it will be helpful come November

Tuesday’s primaries saw women candidates earn an impressive string of wins in state and national contests. Women candidates were victorious in Senate primaries in California, Nevada and Arkansas. Additionally, women gubernatorial candidates bested their primary opponents in California and South Carolina. As the campaigns heat up in advance of November’s election, political science students and professors might want to visit the Women’s Political Communication Archive.

 That collection, developed at the Carrie Capman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, actually houses two separate archives – a web-based archive of women’s speeches and a collection of videos of women political candidates’ campaign commercials. The site can be searched by or browsed by keyword. On it you’ll find a profile of Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the winner in this week’s California Republican Senate primary. You’ll also find remarks and the text of speeches by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, the incumbent Ms. Fiorina hopes to unseat.

 The picture of Sen. Boxer (bottom left) comes from the U.S. Senate. The picture of Ms. Fiorina (top  right) comes from the California Republican Party.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jane Eyre: My summertime tradition

Jane Eyre is my favorite novel. I read it at least once a year, usually during my summer break. As I was hunting for my copy recently, I was reminded of a great site for those interested in primary sources for literary criticism. The Internet Library of Early Journals includes digitized copies 20-year runs of a half-dozen 18th and 19 century journals -  Gentleman's Magazine, The Annual Register, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Notes and Queries, The Builder, and Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine.

 I’ve found this site to be particularly helpful to literary history students, especially those studying Victorian authors. Browse through these digitized volumes and you can learn what the critics of the day thought of a particular work.

Take a look at the October 1848 issue and you’ll come across an article titled “A Few Words About Novels – A Dialogue”. One of the participants in that dialogue gives the following assessment of Jane Eyre, one year after its publication:
“It is not a book for Prudes – it is not a book for effeminate and tasteless men, it is for the enjoyment – of a feeling heart and vigorous understanding.”
Not sure I agree with that assessment. I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t enjoy Jane Eyre. The picture above of Jane Eyre author Charlotte Bronte comes from the Missouri Digital Heritage Exhibits collection. That collection includes digitized copies of an early Charlotte Bronte manuscript. Happy reading.