Freedom rings across generations

Anniversaries of three historical events that shaped the 20th Century are this week: The 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, the 1968 Robert F. Kennedy assassination on June 5, and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy invasion on June 6. It’s interesting to look at the sequential generations each one affected.

Tiananmen Square. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Generation X, generally defined as those born between 1961 and 1981, may not carry the same cultural meaning in China as it does in the Western World. But students and others in 1989 who led weeks of protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square for a more democratic government – until martial law used deadly force to shut them down – probably shared their global cohort’s pursuit of political and social change. An American couple living and teaching English in China at the time saved materials focusing on the political turmoil and Tiananmen Square and that collection is now at the University of Puget Sound for research.

Credit for significant political and social change after World War II in the United States goes to the Baby Boomers, born from about 1945 through the 1960s. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, Robert F. Kennedy ran for president, determined to continue the legacy of change ushered in by his older brother. What would the 1970s political landscape have looked like had RFK  been elected, rather than fatally shot in Los Angeles?

Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., belonged to The Greatest Generation, or the G.I. Generation, because they were born around 1901 through 1924 and fought in World War II. Joe Jr. was killed in action just months after the D-Day Normandy invasion. But he and others who helped allied forces win the war have, and will continue to be, remembered by future generations thanks to the work of archivists and researchers.

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Printing the past in 3-D

This article about a Berkeley, Calif., startup that sells life-like figurines of people demonstrates commercial opportunities in three-dimensional printing. Meanwhile at the Smithsonian, a project to replicate rare objects shows the future of 3-D technology in archives and special collections. It can transform research and also how collections are preserved and exhibited. Will it also change policies about off-site requests for copies and reproductions of items, as more archives own 3-D printers? Time will tell.

A 3-D printer in action. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In ArchiveGrid, I trolled more than 19,000 records for three-dimensional objects and selected items which may someday be good candidates for 3-D replication based on their historical significance. (How to do that search in ArchiveGrid: Type recordtype:r in the search box and you will see just the records for three-dimensional artifacts or naturally occurring objects. In MARC-speak, that means Leader Byte 6 has subfield r.)

1. In the 1800s when it was en vogue to create life masks – casts of peoples’ faces – there was one made of Ludwig van Beethoven when the composer was 42. It’s now at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Abraham Lincoln’s life mask at The Smithsonian already underwent a 3-D makeover.

2. A take on Lincoln Logs would be a 123-pience Frank Lloyd Wright building block set at at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Wood and slate pieces come in a box with a design sheet.

3. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln would guard your money in this Mount Rushmore-shaped coin bank at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

4. Learning about the history of printing, at least from a Victorian-era point of view, could be fun with a 48-piece jigsaw puzzle at the Rochester Institute of Technology that depicts historic moments in printing.

5. Access to around 500 pieces of African art at New York Public Library is for qualified and experienced researchers, according to the collection’s finding aid. Modeling some highlights into 3-D prints is one way this emerging technology can open doors for more researchers.

6. Cast hands of pianist Percy Grainger are kept at University of Melbourne and are a tribute to Australian-born composers of the 20th century.

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Collections from land down under now aboard ArchiveGrid

A century-old story of the British Antarctic expedition and the Australian photographer who documented it needs to be told before going into detail about our most recent ArchiveGrid index update.

100 years ago, against the backdrop of the early stages of World War One, the national heroes in Great Britain and Norway were men who had been on expeditions in Antarctica, the world’s final frontier at the time. Like the 1960s United States/Russia race to the moon, Britain wanted to beat Norway to the South Pole. Roald Amundsen took that honor for Norway in 1911, easily beating Britain’s Robert Falcon Scott with superiority in skiing and dog sledding.

As a sort of consolation prize, 40-year-old Sir Ernest Shackleton, who contracted scurvy while on Scott’s first polar mission 12 years before, was determined to re-capture England’s glory by being the first to cross Antarctica.

Shackleton made sure that members of his expedition had the best of everything. Outfitted in Burberry aboard the new Norwegian barquentineEndurance,” the men, along with 69 sled dogs, left a south Atlantic whaling station on Dec. 5, 1914, bound for the Weddell Sea. Their plan after crossing the continent was to catch a relief ship, the Aurora, in the Ross Sea.

Strong tents, big and hearty dogs, a disease-preventing nutrition plan, and a ship built of Norwegian fir to withstand ice were supposed to help the Shackleton Expedition succeed. Instead, ice packs trapped the Endurance, crushed her, and marooned the crew. They didn’t touch land for 497 days and they turned to eating their dogs, penguins, and seals for survival. Their survival was a testament to Shackleton’s leadership.

Some funds the Irish-born Shackleton raised for the cross-Antarctic expedition came from news and film rights sales. That’s where Australian photographer Frank Hurley comes into the picture. He provided the images that would cement what went from an ambitious undertaking to one of the most compelling stories of human survival. Not only did they help pay off debt Shackleton owed after the expedition, they are still held in high regard for their beauty and storytelling power.

Photo-journalists today can learn from Hurley’s innovation and courage to push the limits for the best shots, get close to his subjects, and leave no angle unconsidered. Hurley’s preservation technique of soldering negatives in metal casing is how his work incurred little damage during the expedition.

Gone is discovery done the Shackleton way, marked by hunger, strain, animal deaths, and rugged perseverance. But now you can discover photographs from the Shackleton Expedition in ArchiveGrid. New Australian contributors and collections of Hurley’s work were brought aboard during our most recent index update. The National Library of Australia’s collection of digitized glass plate negatives of photos taken during the expedition are just part of the collections that are newly included in ArchiveGrid.

We recently expanded the filter that selects WorldCat records for inclusion in ArchiveGrid to include more collections of images and both visual and audio recordings. After that expansion we needed to also broaden our horizons for institutions that we register for inclusion in ArchiveGrid. WorldCat contributors in Australia and New Zealand that weren’t previously registered as ArchiveGrid institutions have now been added, including:

We were excited to see how rich these collections from Down Under are, especially the materials related to the history of South Pole exploration. We are also excited that these collections are more “discoverable” for researchers. Isn’t excitement what drives people farther than they imagined? Who else on Dec. 5, 1914 felt more excitement than Sir Shackleton? Maybe, by seeing the uncharted future through Hurley’s lens, we can feel a bit of that excitement, too.

With the addition of these significant collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid, the Shackleton Expedition records are just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of collections you can explore. We invite you to share your discoveries with us!

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Images of McCullough’s bridges in ArchiveGrid

Highway 101 north of Gold Beach, Ore., crosses the Rogue River on a concrete arch bridge with art deco obelisks – a design that seems out of place with the industry and resort towns 101 passes through, but not out of place with the history of Oregon’s coastal bridges. The bridge, which is on the National Register of Historical Places, is one of more than 20 Oregon bridges designed in the 1920s and 1930s by Conde McCullough, an Oregon Department of Transportation engineer and civil engineering professor at Oregon State University. McCullough’s distinct bridges still stand along U.S. Route 101. In ArchiveGrid, collections of images of these bridges under construction and the towns they’re in can be found.

The Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Chicago’s Wrigley Field centennial is a nostalgic grand slam

Image source:

Nowhere else in professional sports do joy and pain intersect more than for the the Chicago Cubs, the longtime residents of Wrigley Field, the venerated Major League ballpark on Chicago’s north side.

Wrigley Field opened as Weeghman Park on April 23, 1914, 100 years ago today.

In the heat of summer, nothing is better than the view east from “the friendly confines” of Wrigley, passing layered brick buildings and L-trains and ending where the dark sky and a serene Lake Michigan, dotted with white sails, meet.

But the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, including the 100 years at Wrigley. And still fans of “the Lovable Losers” crowd sidewalks, L-trains and parking lots to see their team play.[1] Perhaps the most famous fan in Cubs history is Steve Bartman, whose interference with a catch in 2003 cost the Cubs a playoff series.

The rustic charm of the Major’s second oldest park (after Boston’s Fenway) fosters loyalty. Ivy adorns the brick wall surrounding the outfield, and rooftops on buildings across Waveland Avenue host raucous viewing parties. Wrigley boasts a manually operated scoreboard, real organ music, minimal advertising and all the odors of old-timey baseball. Even the location is quaint, squeezed into an irregular grouping of homes and businesses affectionately known as “Wrigleytown” in the residential Lakeview neighborhood.

How many times in the last century have people consumed all these sights, smells and sounds? A lot if they had Cubs seasons tickets – a 1929 hallmark of Cubs executive and female sports industry pioneer Margaret Donahue, who will be honored during Wrigley Field’s decade-themed centennial celebrations this season. Its namesake, Wrigley, is indeed the chewing gum guy – William Wrigley Jr.[2] owned the team in 1926 when it was renamed after him.

The greatness of the game itself is etched in the park’s history. Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, third baseman Ron Santo and shortstop Ernie Banks led great Cubs teams of the 1960s. Pitcher Bruce Sutter in the late 1970s helped define the role of the modern closer and second baseman Ryne Sandberg shone in the 1980s. All are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but none ever earned a championship ring as a Cub.

In 1998, Cub Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs as part of a famous duel with St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire to break Roger Maris’ old single-season record of 61. McGwire eventually ended up winning that battle by hitting 71 bombs of his own. Both were later disgraced by allegations of steroid use to enhance their performances.

1. From ArchiveGrid record, “Crowd at Cubs Park, July 27, 1929 [graphic].”

2. From ArchiveGrid record, “William Wrigley watches his team work [graphic].”

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For Earth Day, find historical photographs in ArchiveGrid of car-free commuting

Transportation, and how much energy is consumed to get people around, is an environmental topic workers can address for Earth Day today by trying cleaner commutes. Personal automobile alternatives like walking, bicycling, and shared transport can cut carbon emissions, count toward the day’s exercise, and connect with early ways of getting around. However, according to 2012 United States Census Bureau survey data, zero-emission commutes still rank low in how the American workforce gets to and from work: Less than one percent rode a bicycle and nearly three percent walked.

Since I work from home and don’t commute, my Earth Day act is to find historical photographs in ArchiveGrid of car-free commuting. Here are five:

Hemet, Calif., 1899 (from a collection at Los Angeles Public Library)

Eastern Montana, 1904

Arcata, Calif., 1990

Oregon, 19th century

Seattle, Wash., 1906-1947

What can you find?

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ArchiveGrid jogs historical memory of women in the Boston Marathon

This Easter weekend, athletes are getting ready to run the Boston Marathon on Monday the 21st. It was also on a Monday in April 1897, when the first Boston Marathon was run – 10 years after the Boston Athletic Association was established.

Image source:

As the Boston Marathon has grown in prestige, so has its historical significance in women’s sports – running in particular. Roberta Gibb in 1966 was the first woman to run the race, although she participated unofficially that year and again in 1967 and 1968. Women weren’t allowed to officially sign up until 1972. However in 1967, Kathrine Switzer registered herself under a vague name and despite efforts to physically remove her from the course, she officially completed the marathon. The next year she earner her master’s degree from Syracuse Univeristy, where her papers are held. Gibb in 1981 wrote about her experience for Ms. Magazine and that piece is in a collection at Radcliffe College of letters to the magazine.

In the early 1980s, Joan Benoit Samuelson became the first person to win the Boston and Olympic marathons. Also an author, her books include Running Tide, and Running for Women. New England University in Maine, her home state, houses a collection of her newspaper clippings and articles. Crowning her achievements in 1996, Samuelson was on a Wheaties cereal box commemorating the Boston Marathon’s 100th running. Radcliffe College has a box in a collection of female sports ephemera.

Other collections at Radcliffe College around the history of women in America include one for Hazel Hitson Weidman, a medical anthropologist who served in World War II. The finding aid includes details about her correspondence with family members, including her daughter-in-law running marathons barefoot – in 2013, she was about a mile-and-a-half out from the Boston Marathon finish line when terrorist bombs exploded.

What do repeat race runners do with their collections of race shirts? Diane Sherrer made a quilt out of hers, and it’s in a collection at Cornell University of other materials spanning 40 years of her competitive running and journalism career. Her years at the Boston Marathon are recorded in that collection. Can’t remember what the race’s 1999 shirt looked like? There’s one in the collection.

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Weed woes inspire a ‘dandy’ ArchiveGrid search

Libraries holding too many materials and gardens exploding with dandelions both need weeding. While working evenings this week on weeding the latter, I wondered what a search in ArchiveGrid for the springtime invader would retrieve, and if grouping my favorite results here would help me learn to love the weed, commiserate with past efforts to abate it, or offer a new way to look at garden weeding.

Hopefully this list will achieve all three goals:

  • That dandelions are edible doesn’t keep them out of my yard debris bin, but cooking them is recorded in a Northwest folklore archive collection at University of Oregon as both a custom and a superstition. And although I could search online for some dandelion recipes, I would like to see the ones in a collection of pamphlets published last century by Cornell University’s New York State College of Agriculture for the state fair commission.
  • Can dandelions be used to make rubber? A retired Michigan State Archives reference archivist wanted to know and a subject that his collection at Central Michigan University covers is dandelions as an emergency source of post-World War II rubber, according to the finding aid.
  • Collections of dandelions in artistic expression aren’t hard to find in ArchiveGrid because they are vivid and symbolic in their nature. William E. Stafford referred to them in two of his poems, which are held in a collection at Lewis & Clark College. This photograph by a scientist who worked in weed control shows what happened when he fertilized part of an invaded lawn (which looks like parts of my lawn). Also in the collection is a photograph of a what is probably a beautiful-looking, dandelion-covered field.
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Missing flight collections found in ArchiveGrid

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may permanently join history’s record of other vanished flights. What archival collections surrounding these unsolved air mysteries exist and can be found in ArchiveGrid? Here is a quick list:

Amelia Earhart – There are files at Radcliffe College of the FBI’s investigation into her 1937 disappearance over Pacific Ocean, as she tried to be the first woman to fly around the world.

Flight 19 in formation. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Bermuda Triangle – A former Arizona State University librarian’s papers include research sources for his books about Flight 19 – a fleet of bombers that disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle in 1945 – and other vanishings in that area. They include the Star Tiger in 1948 (Lincoln Memorial University has an item relating to one of the crew members) and the Star Ariel a year later.

Alaska – At University of Alaska in Fairbanks are the papers of Democratic Congressman Nick Begich, who disappeared in 1972 with Louisiana Representative Hale Boggs during a flight over Alaska.

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The 21st packs March birthday madness

It’s fun to learn who shares your birthday. Here is a list of historical figures who share my birthday today and have related collections in ArchiveGrid:

Image of Johann Sebastian Bach courtesy of Wikimedia. Stanford University houses an engraving of Bach.

  • Another musical legend born today was Florenz Ziegfeld, who wrote the musical Show Boat and was behind the Ziegfeld Follies and Broadway revues. He died in July of 1932 at age 65. University of Texas has a Ziegfeld collection, and materials relating to a his life when he was married to stage performer Billie Burke is at New York Public Library.
  • Forty-six microfilm reels at University of Texas contain the papers of Benito Juarez, Mexican national hero and president, who lived from 1806 until July of 1872 when he died at age 66.
  • A fellow native Oregonian, Phyllis McGinley was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, writer and author of juvenile books. Syracuse University has an extensive collection of her papers. In 1906, exactly one year after McGinley was born, John D. Rockefeller III was born in New York City, where McGinley would later live. They both died in 1978, both at age 72. She died in February and he died in July. The Rockefeller Archive Center has the family’s archive.
  • Arthur Honegger was a 20th century Swiss composer whose works include a piece named for his country’s patron saint Nicholas of Flue, who lived five centuries earlier and died on his March 21 birthday in 1487 at age 70. University of British Columbia’s archives has a recording of the piece.
  • A collection at New York Public Library of Lola Maverick Lloyd, an international activist for women’s rights, includes materials having to do with Alice Henry, who was born today and died on Valentine’s Day in 1943 at age 85. She was an Australian journalist and promoted women’s suffrage and social reform.
  • In 1960, an oral history was made at of Maurice Farman, a French aircraft designer and manufacturer who lived from 1877 to February of 1964. He was 86. Columbia University houses the transcript.
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