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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

R.I.P. Geraldine Ferraro

Geraldine A. Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee died in Boston Saturday at the age of 75 due to complications from multiple myeloma.

As the first woman nominated for national office by a major political party, Ms. Ferraro was viewed as a pioneer. President Obama described her as such this weekend when he said, “Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life.”

The Mondale/Ferraro ticket was trounced in a Reagan/Bush landslide back in 1984. Subsequently, Ms. Ferraro would twice unsuccessfully run for a Senate seat. She later served as an ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission during the Clinton Administration. She also was as a television commentator, consultant and author.

However none of her later accomplishments could overshadow her appearance at the Democratic National Convention on July 19, 1984, when she stood before the delegates at San Francisco’s Moscone Center and accepted her party’s vice presidential nomination.

“A wise man once said, "Every one of us is given the gift of life, and what a strange gift it is. If it is preserved jealously and selfishly, it impoverishes and saddens. But if it is spent for others, it enriches and beautifies," she said in her acceptance speech. My fellow Americans: We can debate policies and programs. But in the end what separates the two parties in this election campaign is whether we use the gift of life - for others or only ourselves.”

The full text of her acceptance speech can be found at the Archive of Women’s Political Communication at Iowa State University. The photo above, of Ms. Ferraro and her running mate, Walter Mondale, comes from U.P.I.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Golden Era of Air Travel: The Days Before the TSA

This morning, USA Today blogger Ben Mutzabaugh warned that American Airlines' decision to hike domestic air fares by $10 per round trip might lead to another round of fare increases. He also noted that the fare hike marks the seventh time U.S. airlines have tried to raise fares in 2011. That averages out to about one new fare hike every 10 days so far this year.

The airlines say they need the increased revenue to offset the rising price of fuel. That certainly sounds reasonable; it just would be a whole lot more palatable if you received fantastic service for the cost of your ticket.

Take a look at the website for the National Air and Space Museum if you want to get a glimpse at the glamorous era of commercial aviation. The digital exhibit titled (appropriately enough) When the Going Was Good: The Golden Age of Commercial Air Travel will make you pine for days gone by, when you dressed up, not down, for you flight.

Visit that online exhibit you’ll find pictures of the early days of air travel as well as some printed ephemera advertising airlines. Other potential sources of primary source material on the history or aviation and air travel past and present are The National Archives and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The photo above comes from the National Air and Space Museum. The caption states - Breakfast in bed aboard a United Airlines Douglas DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport), circa 1936. The DST was soon modified to operate as a day plane and was renamed the DC-3.

Happy travels.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you."

On this date in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for his revolutionary invention - the telephone. Just a few days later the 29-year-old inventor and his assistant exchanged the first intelligible telephone message.

The Library of Congress's American Memory Project is a rich source of digitized material pertaining to Bell. The Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers features well over 4,000 items including, scientific notebooks, journals, blueprints, articles, and photographs. Thanks to for fodder for today's post. The photo of Bell above comes from the Library of Congress.