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.

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.

Faneuil Hall led new world forums

Today in 1743, America’s first recorded town hall meeting was held in Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston, according to the New York Times. At the University of Virginia are materials about its architect, John Smibert. He was a Colonial artist who had moved from Europe to New England, opened an art supplies shop in Boston , ran a gallery, and still painted portraits.

Image of Faneuil Hall and modern skyscrapers courtesy of Wikimedia.

Faneuil Hall’s original mixed-use design with a public gathering space above ground-floor retail was inspired by English country markets, but I wonder how much Smibert’s design was influenced by his earlier life in London when he lived in an apartment in Covent Garden.

Nearly four decades of pieces of Smibert’s life are contained in his journal, and ArchiveGrid has other records as well for related images and collections. Knowing what Faneuil Hall looked like when it was finished in 1742, and what was said during those first meetings, may be a scholarly mystery.

However, what Faneuil Hall paved for the future of the American public meeting space can be traced in other gems in ArchiveGrid for researchers to discover, such as announcing the death of a president and lottery results.

With MARC filter-flexing, ArchiveGrid index exceeds 3 million records

While March came in like a lion weather-wise in many places, the saying meant good news index-wise for ArchiveGrid. This week we updated the index and once again, the number of collections and items represented in ArchiveGrid spiked. In January’s update, the index grew by around 600,000 records and reached 2.4 million. Now we’re over 3 million.

A snow-drizzled "Fortitude" guards one side of the New York Public Library entrance, while "Patience" (not pictured) guards the other. Image source: Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s why:

MARC records from WorldCat represent at least 90 percent of ArchiveGrid’s descriptions. Since no particular MARC record field tells us “Hey! Include me in ArchiveGrid,” we use a combination of elements. In the “recall vs. precision” performance metric, we’ve tended to err on the side of recall. Details on how we filter WorldCat records for inclusion in ArchiveGrid are here.

Twice this year, we tuned the filter we use to extract MARC records from WorldCat to include more record types based on the MARC Leader byte 6 value. January’s update brought in records with the value of “k” (two-dimensional, non-projecting graphics). This update includes records with the value of “g” (projected medium), “i” (nonmusical sound recording), or “j” (musical sound recording). We think these adjustments allow more descriptions of the types of materials ArchiveGrid searchers could expect to find, without overloading the index with records we’d prefer to filter out: irrelevant materials or published works, items held in multiple locations, etc. So we expect to continue adjusting the filter and see the total number of records change as we get more precise.

Here are some highlights of what valuable primary sources the added g, i, and i indexes in ArchiveGrid have to offer:

  • Around 1,800 sound discs, tape reels, and cassettes of nearly all of Duke Ellington’s commercial and non-commercial recordings and also some radio broadcasts. Collected by Joseph Jeffers Dodge, Harvard University acquired the collection in March 1998.
  • A live 1963 recording in Germany of John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, at Ball State University.
  • A May 2, 2003 VHS recording of the “Service of death and resurrection for Fred McFeely Rogers, or Mister Rogers, at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Another addition with this update is documentation for ArchiveGrid indexes. We use a number of “hidden” indexes in ArchiveGrid for testing and trouble-shooting, so in a new how to search page, we explain what these indexes are and how they can be used in a search. This should be considered a work in progress, so if you have suggestions for improvements or questions about how the indexes work, please let us know.

ArchiveGrid reveals pluck of Irish women

Image source: Drew University.

While March honors Women’s History Month in the United States, the world celebrates International Women’s Day March 8. However, March in the United States is also Irish-American Heritage Month, with St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th as the observance’s highlight.

Relevant keywords to these two events were combined in an ArchiveGrid search and  collections that were found highlight influence Irish women have made to women’s progress. Five examples:

  • Mother Jones scholars may be interested in a manuscript for a memoir of her life, written by her caretaker. It’s called, “Mother Jones: the Life Story of the Irish Immigrant Girl Who Became the Most Unique Character in the American Labor Movement, Living Past 100 Years.”
  • New York University houses the papers of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a leading Irish-American socialist, feminist, labor organizer, orator, and campaigner for civil liberties, according to the collection’s finding aid. She helped start the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Frances Power Cobbe was a philanthropist, social worker, author, and advocate for women’s rights and education for poor and neglected children. She also opposed medical experimentation on live animals. Finding aids at the Huntington Library describe a collection of 12 boxes of letters to her by influential people of the 20th century, and a collection of letters Cobbe wrote to them.
  • Carol McLellan Connolly made a name for herself and for women in St. Paul, Minn., as an active member of feminist groups, the liberal Democratic party, and Twin Cities arts and culture groups. According to the finding aid for her papers at the Minnesota Historical Society, her public work included serving on the St. Paul Human Rights Commission.

There are more collections in ArchiveGrid of women who have contributed to history. Try a search or let us know what you have found in ArchiveGrid.

ArchiveGrid packs cool Mardi Gras krewe facts

Party-goers watch the Krewe of Endymion float during 2014 Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Photograph by Ray Mikell.

Like the celebratory weeks of Carnival before Mardi Gras and the somber weeks of Lent after it, traditions drive the Fat Tuesday season flair in New Orleans. Members of local clubs – or krewes – prepare to be seen in one of the Big Easy’s Mardi Gras costume parades, and the Mardi Gras king gets handed a key to the city. That some krewes formed more than 100 years ago and are still going strong, while others have formed this decade, means tradition doesn’t die where the Mississippi River nears its end.

Members of the Mytic Krewe of Barkus during a 2014 Mardi Gras pre-parade "pawty" in New Orleans. Photograph by Ray Mikell.

New Orleans during Mardi Gras isn’t for everyone. So while Rex, Zulu, Barkus – the dog krewe – and dozens of other krewes hit the streets of New Orleans, the krewe tradition prevails not in just the south. Here are five examples, some whose records are in ArchiveGrid:

1. Each winter in Tampa, Fla., the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla throws a pirate festival complete with a parade, a royal court, invitation-only parties, and a mock pirate invasion – all meant to spark revelry like a New Orleans Mardi Gras. Called the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the first parade was 110 years ago this May. Records from the krewe’s early years are also in Tampa, at the University of South Florida’s special collections.

2. During Gasparilla, the Krewe of Sant’Yago throws a night parade through Ybor City. Also at University of South Florida are records pertaining to that krewe and a family of restaurant owners in that area.

3. Elsewhere in Florida, costumed krewes rule in April during Springtime Tallahassee, which includes a parade where each krewe represents a time period in the state’s history.

4. Near the northern end of the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, church-based krewes from around the town of La Crosse participate in the city’s New Orleans Mardi Gras.

5. Even further north on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, Minn., a Vulcan king and queen reign over a January winter carnival, complete with the Vulcan Krewe and its parade of members in Vulcan attire.