Archive for November, 2008

Library Hours for Thanksgiving Weekend

The Library will be shuttered for Thursday, November 27; it will awaken on Friday, November 28 from 8:30am to 4:30pm before returning to a turkey-induced slumber on Saturday, November 29 and Sunday, November 30. It will be alert and ready for the end-run of the semester beginning Monday, December 1 at 7:30am.

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Thanksgiving Day

“For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America….He is besides, tho’ a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.” So wrote Benjamin Franklin to his daughter Sarah Bache on January 26, 1784 in a letter discussing, among other points, the differences between an eagle and a turkey. To read through cookbooks dating back to the 18th century and learn how to cook a turkey, like boiling it in water for two hours with a head of cabbage, visit this site.  Go here to read the convoluted history of this day and also consult this entry from the Smithsonian Encyclopedia. Interesting facts and figures about this holiday are found at this Census Bureau section. Primary source texts dealing with Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims may be accessed here. The invaluable Plymouth Colony Archive Project can be used to great advantage. A brief history of the Pilgrims is also available. Scores of online books on Plymouth Colony are accessible from this site. Gooble, gooble!!

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Candidates for Key Appointments in Obama’s Administration

This very informative resource from The New York Times examines many of the frontrunners for appointments to key positions in the new administration; also highlighted are the main players in the transition team. For additional biographical information, please consult the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress for both past and present holders of a Congressional seat; i.e. Clinton, Daschle; the biographical section of the National Governors Association; i.e. Richardson; and the always reliable SourceWatch as well; i.e. Axelrod.

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New Report Reveals Lack of Knowledge of American History

A new report – Our Fading Heritage – presents a rather bleak picture of our knowledge of American history, politics, civics, and economics. Of the 2500 people surveyed from all walks of life, a bewildering number, 71%, failed with an average of 49; American politicians fare even worse, recording a less than stellar 44. On a more distressing note, 56% correctly identified Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol, while only 21% correctly identified the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” as from the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. The 2008 Civic Literacy Test is found on pages 24-27. Please read Wilfred McClay’s essay, “The Burden of the Humanities.” UPDATE: To see how far we have not come, please read this 2011 blog entry.

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European Digital Library Opens 11/20, Closes 11/20

So great was the anticipation for Europeana, the name for the European Digital Library, that when it was opened yesterday more than 10 million hits per hour crashed the site. A planned repository of millions of texts, images, sound, and film, Europeana will become a resource of the first order when it is finally back up. Over 1000 institutions from the European Union have contributed digitized collections to this vast multilingual undertaking. A nice review of the project is found here. Europeana is slated to go back up in mid-December. In the meantime, check out our de facto national library, the Library of Congress and its digital treasures.

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Top Ten American Newspaper Websites

This is a listing of the best websites for American newspapers; the New York Times tops the list. Several different criteria were employed, among them design, aesthetics, and usability. Needless to say, another list, based on different criteria, would yield dissimiliar results. For those who wish to dig deeper, try The Newspapers: Rating The Top 25 Newspaper Websites; also recommended is the Newspaper Association of America site which has a separate area for newspaper web sites. It is replete with updated statistics and contains circulation/views of many newspapers as well(use the “net reach” link for those figures). And do not forget the “research” link which will direct you to pertinent reports on newspapers and the Web. Another report of interest is American Newspapers and the Internet: Threat or Opportunity?  A great journalism site with numerous links is found at the Poynter Institute.

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Life Magazine’s Photo Archives Available via Google Image

Ultimately, all ten million photos from Life will be searchable in Google Image; at the present, about 20% are online, with the rest to be loaded in the upcoming months. You can access this collection here, or you can just add “source:life” to any Google Image search and limit the search just to Life images. The pictures available now stretch back to the Civil War.

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