Archive for January, 2014

Online Primary Sources for American History: New Jersey Boards of Proprietors

The East Jersey Proprietors and its western counterpart were the first landowners in the British colony of New Jersey and governed the colony for the first forty years before surrendering that right. (Come here to see the charters of incorporation and commissions.) The East Jersey Proprietors lasted as an entity until 1998; the West Jersey Proprietors still exists along with the land it owns. A very informative Using the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors is available from the NJ State Archives; abstracts from Colonial Land Surveys and Warrants, 1670-1727 can also be accessed. In addition, The minutes of the Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey, a four-volume set covering the years 1685 to 1794 is online. Land disputes, quit-rent payments, tract surveys, divisions of property – are all found in these tomes; illustrious names of famous New Jersey families are interspersed through these annals that come equipped with extensive indexes. The Bi-centennial celebration of the Board of American Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey (1885) provides historical context as does this 1962 monograph by John Pomfret The Province of East New Jersey, 1609-1702, the Rebellious Proprietary.

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Today in New Jersey History – January 28

On this day in 1811, Charles Stewart Boggs was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He entered the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1826 and served until he retired as a rear admiral in 1872; he died in New Brunswick in 1888. He served in both the Mexican War and the Civil War, earning distinction in the latter conflict on the Mississippi at the Battle of Forts Jackson and St Philip that led to the surrender of New Orleans. The USS Boggs is named in his honor. Biographical information is available: USS   Naval Historical Center; The records of living officers of the U.S. navy & Marine corps : compiled from official sources, 3d ed, rev, 1878; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, series 1: volume 18 (deals with the aforementioned battle); Dewey and Other Naval Commanders (1899); and The New-York Tribune (his obituary).

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British Royal Household’s Failing Finances

According to the House of Commons’ The Sovereign Grant report, the royal household only has $1.6 million in reserve, 39% of the property it holds is in deteriorating condition, and it needs to generate more income while decreasing expenditures. The BBC and The Guardian have stories on this parlous state of affairs.

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President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address

The video and transcript of his speech are online. For a brief history of this now-annual event, please read this previous blog entry. Politicians from both sides have offered their opinions/reactions on the speech. NPR, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution have special features on the SOTU. Of course, The New York Times and The Washington Post provide reportage. To review the veracity of President Obama’s statements, please read Facts of the Nation from FactCheck.org.

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Economic Crisis – January 2014 Update

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National Security Reports – January 2014 Update

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Environmental Risks Among Highest in WEF Report

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just issued its Global Risks 2014. Environmental concerns appear three times in the top ten risk list: water crises (#3); failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation (#5); and greater incidence of extreme weather events (#6). As the report states: “This illustrates a continued and growing awareness of the global water crisis as a result of mismanagement and increased competition for already scarce water resources from economic activity and population growth. Coupled with extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, which appears sixth on the list, the potential impacts are real and happening today.” (5) This is followed by an analysis from the Global Agenda Council on Water Security.(Its site is here.) This document just reinforces the importance of water security in the world. TowersWatson issued its Extreme Risks Report in 2013 where water scarcity was at the top of its list as well.

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EdTech Reports – January 2014

Letter to President Obama from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) states “After only two years of practical experience with MOOCs and related technologies, it is too early to tell whether substantial gains in the quality of instruction, access, achievement, and cost will be realized. But there is no question that the new technologies offer the potential for expanding access for millions of Americans, not only to college degrees, but to a wide range of effective and low-cost training modules and courses….”(5) Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools has as its focus “The protection of student privacy in the context of cloud computing is generally unknown both to the public and to policy-makers. This study thus focuses on K-12 public education and examines how school districts address privacy when they transfer studentinformation to cloud computing service providers”(5) Internet Monitor 2013: Reflections on the Digital World presents essays discussing the newsworthy developments of the past year, from the future of civil disobedience to internet surveillance in China. The essays are gathered around three broad topics – governments as actors, companies as actors, and citizens as actors – and are written in an accessible format to foster further deliberation and reflection. The volume ends with a “by the numbers” feature of statistics. This tome is well worth a perusal. Written by the FCC chairman, Net Effects: The Past, Present and Future Impact of Our Networks briefly examines the technological change agents that have shaped our society: the printing press, the telephony sector, railroads, and the wired world. The Digest of Education Statistics 2012 has just been released; computer usage in public schools is highlighted. Focus groups of students give their opinions on edtech in this report – Youth Perspectives on Tech in Schools: From Mobile Devices to Restrictions and Monitoring.

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Getty Museum Publications Online

The J. Paul Getty Museum has been a major presence in the dissemination of free scholarly information in digital format; it now is making available over 250 of its publications online via the Getty Virtual Library. This collection, that will be continually expanded, offers translated volumes, symposium proceedings, as well as exhibition catalogs and the J. Paul Getty Museum Journal. Searching is by author, title, keyword, subject area and program, along with other options.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Papers of the Founding Fathers

Who qualifies as a founding father is the subject of  much debate and conjecture. Did they sign the Declaration of Independence? Did they affix their signatures to the Constitution? Did they help write either one? Did they fight in the Revolution? What is universally agreed upon is that these individuals played a pivotal role in the development of the United States. The federal government decided that extensive compilations would be made of the :”… papers of six founding fathers: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. The scope is enormous: It includes their writings from childhood through the Revolutionary period and until their deaths. And it includes letters written to them as well.” (OAH) Modern letterpress editions of these papers have been ongoing since the 1940s; some of these projects will not be finished until 2050. In addition, over $100 million have been spent on these various projects.The slowness of production and the inability of a vast majority of American citizens of seeing these very expensive volumes prompted a 2008 Congressional hearing – The Founding Fathers’ Papers: Ensuring Public Access to Our National Treasures – that featured testimonies from pre-eminent American historians calling for wider access to these collections. Finally, the above projects have been put online, freely available at Founders Online where over 150,000 searchable documents reside, fully transcribed. The interface is user-friendly and provides various access points. It allows a researcher to view the thoughts of these individuals as they grappled with the various questions that arose as they tried to build a nation. Another gateway to additional founding fathers, as well as to those aforementioned, is housed at the Library of Congress – American Founders Online. This site is a little outdated since it does not reflect the Founders Online project, but it will lead to digital works of other founding fathers.

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What To Do in NJ and NYC for Super Bowl XLVIII

The Star-Ledger has put together an informative fan guide to the events on both sides of the Hudson. Lots to do in Jersey! But is it enough? After all, MetLife Stadium is in New Jersey, yet the East Rutherford location would appear to be forgotten in the tidal wave of “New York”-oriented NFL promotions. Do you know that both teams are staying in Jersey City hotels?  Check out this NJ Spotlight article on this situation.

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New Jersey School Early Closings/Closings

This always bears repeating, especially in the winter. News12 has an updated listing for New Jersey; it also carries closings for other tri-state locales. For those of us who are native New Yorkers and have 22 minutes, 1010wins also provides handy area-wide closings.

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Doctorates Awarded by American Universities in 2012

Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2012 is the latest in a series of annual reports from the National Science Foundation. This document is full of statistics, tables, and charts tracing the 2012 cohort: race/ethnicity, country of origin, what universities awarded the most degrees in various fields, time to completion, etc. Many of the usual suspects are here such as the large state universities and the Ivies; what may come as a surprise is how often Walden University appears.

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History of Intelligence Satellites

“Eyes in the sky” have been part of the intelligence community for decades; many of these programs were classified as secret and only recently has the existence of some of them been made public. The NRO-Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance is”… the U.S. Government agency in charge of designing, building, launching, and maintaining America’s intelligence satellites.” Here you can read about the Corona program, the nation’s first photo surveillance satellites; you can also learn about the Gambit and Hexagon programs that were only declassified in late 2011. These programs formed an integral part of  this country’s defense system during the Cold War.  Coverage of these programs can be found at space.com; Secrecy News; GlobalSecurity.org; National Security Archive (extensive coverage with source documents); and The Space Review.

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New Senate Benghazi Report Issues Harsh Criticisms

The report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence states that the attacks “…were likely preventable based on the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission and the significant strategic (although not tactical) warnings from the Intelligence Community (IC) about the deteriorating security situation in Libya.”(61) Lack of communication and poor security are highlighted throughout this document.

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Handbook of Latin American Studies

This essential reference tool is freely available online from the Library of Congress. “The Handbook is a bibliography on Latin America consisting of  works selected and annotated by scholars. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the multidisciplinary Handbook alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities. Each year, more than 130 academics from around the world choose over 5,000 works for inclusion in the Handbook.”(Web site) Volumes from 1935 on are searchable online; another version called HLAS Web allows searches from 1990 and includes an annotation with each entry. Subject areas include history, art, economics, sociology, and much more.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Condolences from Foreign Countries Over the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Among the first volumes of the Foreign Relations of the United States is a collection of letters transmitted to Washington, D.C. from various countries. These missives range from a group of American ex-pats in Peru to the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All communications were translated for this volume that was published in 1866. The exact title of this work is Appendix to diplomatic correspondence of 1865; the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, late president of the United States of America, and the attempted assassination of William H. Seward, Secretary of State, and Frederick W. Seward, Assistant Secretary, on the evening of the 14th of April, 1865; expressions of condolence and sympathy inspired by these events. This volume was ordered reprinted in 1867 for a wider distribution beyond governmental channels.  A New York Times article from May 9, 1865 articulates the reaction to his death “The Political Effect in Europe of President Lincoln’s Death“. This special section of the September 2009 issue of the Journal of American History  –Interchange: The Global Lincoln – is apposite reading.

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History of the “Foreign Relations of the United States”

We have already mentioned this great online primary source, but this tome – Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable” – traces the development and evolution of this document repository from the mid-nineteenth century until the present. Each chapter has extensive footnoting, and the book as a whole has a great bibliography of primary and secondary sources. A good read.

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Governnor Christie’s 2014 State of the State Address

His address will begin at 3pm today; C-SPAN will cover it. Brief excerpts in which he advocates for a longer school year for K-12 can be found in The Star-Ledger. NJ Spotlight carries an informative pre-speech review of his current situation; Politicker NJ features Winners and Losers: Week of Scandal while The New York Times contributes a timeline and multimedia sources. Update: transcript of the speech is available.

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Stephen Foster, 1826-1864

Considered America’s first great songwriter, people may be surprised to find that this individual so closely associated with the South was born east of Pittsburgh and spent the last years of his life in New York City. Some his most famous works include “Beautiful Dreamer ,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” and “Oh! Susanna.” A prolific songwriter, he died penniless in NYC on January 13, 1864, 150 years ago to the day.  Good biographies are available courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh (features a listing of his songs);PBS (contains a timeline of his life, special features, and additional biographies); and the Library of Congress. Many of his compositions are available here and here. Brief contemporary obituaries are at Chronicling America; the Emporia News of Emporia, Kansas has a longer memorial.

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