Coinciding calendars show future, past, and present of Thanksgivukkah

It’s predicted that two events today in the United States – Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah – won’t coincide again for at least another 75,000 years, according to how Jewish and Gregorian calendars align. What this article in Wired predicts for the planet on the next Thanksgivukkah is poignant:

“If humans don’t survive the changes that Earth will go through in the coming millennia, most of the things we built will also be gone. Over thousands of years, cities will crumble, rivers will overflow and break their dams, and satellites will fall from their orbits…Rock monuments, like Mount Rushmore, would not yet have completely eroded away. One day, there will basically be nothing left to testify that humans were ever here at all.”

Hopefully whatever happens then won’t lead to what the time traveler in The Time Machine encounters much later in the year 802,701 A.D., when maybe a few other Thanksgivukkah’s and many more partial overlaps of the two holidays in the human memory will have occurred.

Did anyone on Thursday, November 29 in 1888 – the last time Thanksgiving day followed the start of Hanukkah the evening before – predict that today’s occurrence could be the last for civilization as we know it? After all, it has taken 10,000 years for current society to evolve. Who knows how it will evolve between now and the next Thanksgivukkah.

It turns out, media coverage of the past event was sparse. This blogger points to nods toward the event in newspapers, and so does this website, Ghosts of D.C. Finding leads in ArchiveGrid to primary sources using keywords related to Hanukkah and Thanksgiving didn’t reveal anything either, but that’s not to say there weren’t other interesting items worthy of research. For example, a collection at Jewish Theological Seminary includes a thanksgiving hymn written in Hebrew, and so does another collection in a similar vein at New York Public Library. It’s likely the “thanksgiving” these musical pieces mean is gratitude and not the holiday. Today, however, they can signify both.

Book of McSweeney’s best has ties to Harry Ransom Center

In the recent edition of my city’s alternative weekly newspaper, Willamette Week, is a beautifully-written review for a new book The Best of McSweeney’s, a 384-page anthology of top works McSweeney’s published in its 15-year history. Why did this article catch my eye? Back in July, The Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas, Austin, announced its acquisition of the McSweeney’s publishing company archive. That’s how I acquainted myself with McSweeney’s and its growing status as an award-winning independent literary publisher.

Founder Dave Eggers says in the press release, “The Ransom Center is a world-class institution, and we’re honored to be included among their holdings. McSweeney’s is celebrating our 15th anniversary this year, and we’ve had the honor and pleasure of publishing hundreds of authors, established and upcoming, while navigating the choppy seas of independent publishing.”

Since the Harry Ransom Center’s collections can be found in ArchiveGrid, we look forward to when the McSweeney’s collections will also be included. After they’re processed, they will join the ranks of other publishers’ records the Ransom Center holds and makes available to researchers, including Alfred A. Knopf, P.E.N. International, Nancy Cunard‘s Hours Press, Anvil Press Poetry, Commentary magazine, the “London Review of Books” and “Little Magazine.”

One author mentioned in the Willamette Week review is David Foster Wallace, whose archive is also at the Ransom Center.

Robert Goulet and Camelot resources in ArchiveGrid

Happy birthday Robert Goulet. The mustachioed singer would have been 80 years old today.

Why am I writing about Robert Goulet? After college, my husband Keith was, for a brief time, the concertmaster in the Robert Goulet Orchestra.

Goulet is well known for his role as Lancelot in Broadway musical Camelot. If you were interested in finding documentation on the musical, you might consult the papers of the composer, Frederick Lowe, at the Library of Congress. Or the papers of director Moss Hart at the Wisconsin Historical Society. You might also be interested in seeing photographs of performers and stage productions in the Joseph Abeles collection at the Harry Ransome Center (the collection includes stills of Goulet and Camelot).

Quite apart from his musical fame, Robert Goulet’s mustache is memorialized by the Goulet Award, bestowed annually by the American Mustache Institute. It is fitting that Robert Goulet’s birthday is at the end of Movember,  a time when some men grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues.

Happy Birthday Billie Jean King — Title IX and ArchiveGrid

Today is the birthday of legendary tennis player Billie Jean King, well known for her numerous Grand Slam wins and for her 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” win against chauvinist provocateur Bobby Riggs.

Long an advocate for equal footing for women in sports, King’s match against Riggs came on the heals of the passage of Title IX, a 1972  law that requires gender equity for boys and girls in educational programs that receive (US) federal funding. Although Title IX is most frequently associated with athletic programs (and most of the debate about the impact of Title IX centers around athletics), the law actually covers 9 additional areas: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.

For all intents and purposes, I grew up at the dawn of the post Title IX athletic era; even when I was a relatively non-sporty kid, I was surrounded by girls who participated in sports as fully as their brothers. In college, I was a coxswain on the UC Berkeley women’s crew team (Go Bears!) and trained at Hearst Gymnasium for Women. Even at that time, in the mid 1980s, the men’s athletic teams had better facilities over at Harmon Gym (now Haas Pavilion); over time men’s and women’s athletics at UC Berkeley and elsewhere have been brought more into line with one another. In recent years, I’ve been part of a running club — mixing with women ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, and comparing notes about our varied experiences with support for sports (or lack thereof) reveals to me how much of an impact the athletics portions of Title IX has had on the real lives of girls and women in the US.

Merrilee (center) on the Cal Novice Crew team, 1986

In ArchiveGrid, you can see the traces of Title IX implementation. A search for Title IX records reveals a rich trove of self study and implementation done at campuses all over the US, records from the US Department of Education, and documentation of the lives of key individuals such as the papers of Christine Grant, University of Iowa Sports administrator, professor, and gender equity activist.

Happy 70th birthday, Billy Jean, and thanks for the inspiration!

Hotel Texas building is an important chapter in the JFK story

The historic Hotel Texas building. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Fifty years ago today, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, arrived in Texas. After a full day of travel and appearances, he spent his final night in room 850 at the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth.

A search in ArchiveGrid for “Hotel Texas” brings up a collection at the Fort Worth Library about the JFK Tribute, a recently-completed memorial near the hotel – it’s now the Hilton Fort Worth – where Kennedy gave what would be one of his last speeches: an unplanned address to an eager crowd waiting outside the hotel Friday morning, Nov. 22, 1963.

According to the finding aid, there are three boxes of articles, correspondence, photographs, DVDs, architectural drawings, and other printed materials documenting the creation and dedication of the tribute. Materials have been part of an exhibit at the Fort Worth Library commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death.

Another exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth displays artwork that was put in the presidential couple’s hotel room for them. According to the exhibit description, the Amon Carter board president at the time, Ruth Carter Stevenson, and some Fort Worth art collectors created the installation for the president and first lady to celebrate their overnight visit. That the night before a tragedy was spent in the midst of hospitality meaningful to the Kennedys is significant, even today.

Index update brings in bountiful harvest of new finding aid contributors

By Unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve just updated the ArchiveGrid index, and have benefited this time from the hard work of our colleagues Elizabeth and Todd at Arizona Archives Online, who prepared a sitemap to make the consortium’s finding aids available. In an earlier post we mentioned our affection for sitemaps – they are simple to crawl and follow a standard, widely-used protocol. We think archives will benefit in other ways by adopting this approach, as the sitemap can be used to make collections easier for search engines and others to find.

Five of our 11 new finding aid contributors are part of the AAO, thanks to access we gained to a central sitemap of its contributors’ finding aids for harvesting. They are:

Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library
Museum of Northern Arizona
Arizona State Museum Library and Archives
Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records
Lowell Observatory Library

Our six other new finding aid contributors are:

Connecticut College – Charles E. Shain Library
Chicago State University – Douglas Library
Carroll University – Todd Wehr Memorial Library
Free Library of Philadelphia – Rare Book Department
Colorado State University Library
SUNY College at Plattsburgh – Special Collections

Welcome new contributors, and keep checking our blog for more news and updates about ArchiveGrid and other stories by the ArchiveGrid team.

Honoring the Gettysburg Address 150 years later

Image of Abraham Lincoln courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address as part of a military cemetery dedication in 1863 in Gettysburg, Penn. The two-minute speech is still famous for its elegance and impact, and still held up as an example for writers and speakers today to follow. A Ken Burns documentary film about the event will air next spring and in the meantime he’s asking people in America to learn it.

An angle to the Gettysburg Address story involved Everett Edwards, a well-known politician and orator who ran as the vice presidential nominee in the Constitutional Union Party ticket against Lincoln in the 1860 election. Edwards over time grew to admire Lincoln, and his Gettysburg Address helped. Lincoln and Edwards were both invited to speak at the dedication ceremony for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Edwards went first and spoke for two hours. Lincoln’s speech followed and it was the crowd favorite. The next day, Edwards wrote Lincoln a letter praising his speech’s brevity.

History may have been different if Lincoln would have taken to heart an earlier letter by three detractors from Georgia, asking Lincoln prior to his inauguration to refuse to act as the 16th president and to ask the electoral college to vote for John Bell and Everett Edwards of the Constitutional Union Party. According to the finding aid, the letter reflects “…the bitter sentiments of many Georgians on the eve of Lincoln’s inauguration and the establishment of the Confederacy.”

This letter came two years before events at Gettysburg would have Lincoln and Edwards before an audience, serendipitously partaking in one of the most memorable events in United States history.

World of woodcraft leads to local history link

The Neighbors of Woodcraft building in Portland, Ore. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In Twitter, when ArchiveGrid gets mentioned, we often get to learn about what people use it for, especially when they include a link to something they found. One recent Tweet caught my attention. It read, “The spread of the #woodcraft movement and its culture is attested to by this search on OCLC’s ArchiveGrid service.” The author included a link to 60 matches in ArchiveGrid for the term “woodcraft.”

A quick online search taught me about woodcraft fraternal organizations in Europe and North America, but I also learned something new about a well-known building in Portland, Ore. A group of women from a female auxiliary of Woodmen of the World started the Neighbors of Woodcraft, and in 1905 moved their headquarters to Portland. Their former lodge and insurance building, built in 1928, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

How did I find this out? In the ArchiveGrid search results I mentioned earlier, a record for an Oregon Historical Society photograph collection of dance orchestras says it includes an image of the Jimmie Whetmore Orchestra at Neighbors of Woodcraft and Uptown Ballroom. The building is now called the Tiffany Center and those vintage ballrooms are still used, especially for parties and wedding receptions because several major businesses and places of worship are nearby. Light rail riders would be familiar with the structure because tracks run on each side.

Although this record is listed in ArchiveGrid after collections for more established woodcraft organizations such as the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry and Women of Woodcraft, which would be valuable for woodcraft researchers, someone researching local history would benefit from the ability our summary view offers for more fine-tuned searching.

Finding Admiral Bill in the family tree: A Veterans Day story

During recent ArchiveGrid team meetings, Bruce, Merrilee and I discussed Veterans Day post ideas for this blog. We considered personal angles and what our own family histories could offer. I drew a blank. No one in my immediate family had served in battle. Two distant relatives on my father’s side fought in combat in the Philippines in World War II but never spoke of it and are now deceased.

Then I remembered a name on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family tree: William Nicholas Updegraff, a U.S. Navy admiral I sometimes brag about because, well, he was an admiral and I’m, well, related. Distantly. He is my second cousin twice removed.

So I searched Google, Wikipedia, ArchiveGrid, and called my father for information.

Here are five new things I learned about Bill:

  • He graduated in 1919 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. That he went to the Naval Academy meant so much to my grandmother, she openly wished my father would have done the same.
  • Captain Updegraff was the commanding officer of the Naval Air Station at Dutch Harbor (Territory of Alaska) when Japanese forces attacked it in June 1942.
  • He received a Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession” during the Dutch Harbor attack. According to the Military Times Hall of Valor, “Captain Updegraff’s coolness under fire, his calm and courageous bearing were a source of encouragement and inspiration to all who served with him.” Not only do I want to learn more about Bill, I want to be like him too.
  • His mother, Anna, christened the U.S.S. Kalinin Bay during World War II at the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company in Vancouver, Wash. My father watched.
  • He retired as a Rear Admiral in San Francisco. When my grandmother visited him, he showed her around and took her to the “best places.” Her stories inspired my aunt to move to San Francisco after she finished high school.

Research in ArchiveGrid led me to collections of photographs which may have Bill pictured. Wikipedia took me to a link with a digitized report Bill wrote of the Dutch Harbor attack. I have been to my share of Veterans Day parades and events, but this year’s holiday prompted a delve into my own family history. Hopefully I will learn more about Admiral Bill’s admirable leadership qualities this holiday in one of my favorite learning environment: at the family dinner table.

Chrome overtakes Internet Explorer in ArchiveGrid

We go back a ways with web browsers. My first browser and still a nostalgic favorite was the alpha release of NCSA’s Mosaic browser 20 years ago, in 1993. Similar to the paint color options for Henry Ford’s Model T, you could have any background color you wanted, as long as it was gray. But even in those early days, there were browser skirmishes; sorry, fans of Cello.

Over time the browser skirmishes grew into wars, in which at various times we’d find ourselves to be on the front-lines (“I’ve got a JavaScript work-around for that”), or quickly shifting our partisan allegiances (“so long Netscape, and hello Firefox”), or hunkering down until the end of the siege (“can we stop supporting Internet Explorer 6 yet?”).

Now that OCLC Research’s ArchiveGrid system has been running for a while, we can take a look at the browsers that are being used to reach it, and how that’s changing. A year and a half ago, Internet Explorer was the dominant browser with Firefox a somewhat distant second. This month, Chrome is in the lead, nearly doubling its share of the ArchiveGrid market, with Internet Explorer in second but on a steady decline.

The new world order of browsers being used to visit ArchiveGrid matches other wider views of browser popularity, in sequence if not in volume: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#Summary_table.

With four different browsers divided roughly evenly across the ArchiveGrid user base, that could pose some issues for support, as they all have their own special features and idiosyncrasies. We’re greatly assisted by the use of solid user interface and JavaScript frameworks (Bootstrap and JQuery), which help us avoid the worst of the cross-browser programming difficulties, leaving us with a nearly Swiss neutrality in the on-going browser wars.