Blog Archives

Kentucky, Security, Drexel, Bing, More: Fat Tuesday Buzz, February 25, 2014

An Indiana teenager is trying to raise $10,000 to create a new search engine. You in?

The country of Uganda is setting up an online database to track the arrests and identification of repeat poachers.

A large online archive devoted to the American Airforce in Britain during World War II is coming to Cambridgeshire. “The website will be based around The Roger Freeman Collection, a compilation of approximately 15,000 prints and slides assembled by Roger Freeman, a hugely-respected aviation historian and native of East Anglia. Many of these images have not, up to now, been publicly available.”

Now available: a new version of the FreeERISA online database (press release).

The Kentucky Historical Society has a new online genealogy magazine.

From TIME.com: How I Quit Google. (Thanks Wallace S. for the pointer!)

There is no patch for the Mac OSX SSL bug that I mentioned a couple of days ago, but there are things you can do to protect your computer.

Joyce Valenza has an interesting blog post on Cardwiki, a flashcard study tool.

Drexel University is starting a cybersecurity institute. “The Institute will bring together a breadth of faculty, professional staff, and research from across the University to study emerging cyber threats and risks. It will also be a resource to guide law and policy makers in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy and cyber risk management. In addition, the Institute will work to build partnerships with industry to help advance their cyber infrastructure protection and incident response.”

Bing is making it easier for users to find tax forms.

Nice: Curated collections of free commercial use photos.

Now you can get an even better idea of who’s stalking you on LinkedIn. Does anyone else get the idea that this makes any casual viewing of a LinkedIn profile instantly creepy? Do you think that’s what LinkedIn was going for?

And it’s a new Easter egg in Google: blinky text! Suddenly, it’s 1998 all over again. All we need is one of those cheesy little “under construction” icons and we’ll be all set. Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

The People of Medieval Scotland Catalogs Over 20,000 People

Hat tip to stv.tv for the article about The People of Medieval Scotland, a new site that catalogs people — the Web site describes them as “all known people of Scotland” — in documents dated from 1093 to 1314. It’s available at http://www.poms.ac.uk/

People of Medieval Scotland

You can search the database by factoids, sources, places, or people. You can also adjust the date range for your search. I did a search for Campbell and got
15 results, from Arthur Campbell, knight (father of Arthur) to Thomas Campbell, knight. The names are clickable; doing so takes you to a small preview window. Clicking that takes you to a list of “factoids” where that person is mentioned, divided into tabs.

For example, you might look at Patrick the Archer and review his mention in three associated factoids, including what looks like the transfer of his lands to someone else: “King Edward [I] establishes to Robert [de Keldsik], abbot of Holm Cultram, land worth 300 marks yearly, namely in Grieston, the lands of the late Robert de Ros of Wark, a rebel; in Scotland, the lands of Richard of Glen, Patrick the Archer…”

I said “what looks like,” because this is a very academically-oriented database and I’m not up on my Scotland history. An “Information” tab on the site has an excellent FAQ, with pointers to a glossary, a timeline of this period in Scotland, royal family trees, and some educational resources. There’s an “interactive labs” section for schools which unfortunately I could not access despite using Chrome (one of the supported browsers.)

Open the glossary in one tab and have a browse. And I hope you have more luck with the labs than I did.

Library of Congress and the New Farm Security Administration Depression Era Photograph Scans

Farmer and Daughter

I read a great post from the Library of Congress last week (http://blogs.loc.gov/picturethis/2012/07/celebrate-sparkling-new-fsa-scans/) about its new collection of about 45,000 Great Depression-era photograph scans in the Farm Security Administration (FSA) collection.

The call number code for this collection is USF33, so going to http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=USF33 will take you to a full list. And of course once you’re there you can add other search terms.

I added the keyword contest to the search and got my list winnowed down to 142 results, with pictures of all kinds from all kinds of contests including corn-shucking, barrel rolling, top spinning, pie eating, goat roping, and burro loading. The result list includes a thumbnail that seems a bit on the small side, but that’s made up for with the thorough titles of the pictures and a little information about the date of the photograph and the photographer.

Click on a listing and additional details you’ll get will include rights information (I think this collection is pretty much freely available), call number, subject, and notes. You can also download the picture in larger formats — anything from smallish JPGs to TIFs over 10MB in size.

I loved this collection. So many of the shots are candid and it’s easy to tell the photographers had a true warmth for the subjects in the pictures. If you want to start off your exploration with some fun, add the word “wager” to your search for USF33. You’ll find a very funny series of images.

King Center Imaging Project Goes Live with Martin Luther King Jr. Archive

Last week a press release announced that JPMorgan Chase & Co., in partnership with AT&T Business Solutions, EMC, and The King Center, would release The King Center Imaging Project’s Web site on January 16 to note and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It appears to be live now and is available at http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/. While I think this is a great project for an archive, I found it somewhat hard to use as it is initially presented.

When you first go to the archive, you’ll be presented with some pull-down menus and a tile display of historical documents. The tiles are slow to load, and more have to load as you scroll down the screen. If you hold your mouse over a particular tile (which may show an image or a snippet of a letter or something else) you’ll get some explanation, but often, the image or the snippet aren’t enough. (One image, for an issue of Current, is just a block of the cover with no image or lettering.)

Thankfully you can turn this off by going to the top nav and choosing the “List” display, which makes for much easier browsing. You can go through a huge list of documents on the front page, or use the nav to choose different themes of Dr. King’s life. Themes include Economics, Letters from Children, Nobel Peace Prize, and Telegrams. (Items archived range from pictures to articles to sermons to oral histories to poetry.) I looked at Telegrams, turned off the tile display in favor of the list display again, and reviewed several dozen telegrams both to and from Dr. King. The listings include a brief description and a thumbnail; date and place are also listed when available.

Clicking on an item takes you to the item page with it in full view along with tools to zoom in, print, and share. A left nav gives you additional information on the item, including a link to a transcript and tags in several different categories, making browsing very specific topics easy. Individual items are as simple as a picture or a single telegram, and as complex as an entire issue of Current magazine. The tools and information on the single-item pages are elegant and easy to use.

In addition to browsing categories, there’s also a general search engine. I did a search for birthday card (since browsing had pointed me to a couple) and found six results. If you want to run a more serious search, there’s an advanced search mechanism that allows you to narrow your results in a variety of ways, including by date span, person or organization (the search engine will give you suggestions), or type of content (sermons, telegrams, correspondence, etc.)

I found the initial tile display of the archived items to be very slow loading and lacking context. Once I switched to the list format, it was a lot easier to get into the archives’ extensive content. As today is Martin Luther King Jr. day I suspect the site will be a bit of a slow load for a while, but it’s very worth a visit.

Searching 60 Million Pages of Canadian History

Saw an interesting (if really brief) story in the Telegram about a new Web site called The Canadiana Discovery Portal, which searches through 60 million pages of Canada history from 14 different institutions. You can visit it at http://beta.canadiana.ca/co/en. It’s in beta, as you can tell by the page, and this of course is the English version; there’s a link to the French version on this page.

It looks like a Google Custom search (I don’t think it is; that’s just what it looks like.) Simple keyword search. I did a search for Ottawa, and got over 62,000 results, so I abandoned that and did a search for locomotive.

There are still almost 3,000 results for locomotive and that’s a bit daunting. But take a look at the navigation across the top of the search results page. You can change the order of results (relevance, newest, oldest), and restrict your results to particular languages (in this case English, French, German, or Ojibwa, though in one search I saw Hindu, Swedish, Italian, and Latin, along with several Native American languages and even Chinese.) You can restrict your results to a media type (712 locomotive images!) and look for a specific contributing institution or narrow to a certain date range. In short, these navigation results make it super easy to narrow down your search results in several comprehensive ways.

And what of the results themselves? I found a lot of photographs, of course, but also individual pages from texts (A page of language from The Esquimaux their life, customs and manners had me baffled until I saw a reference to “locomotion”), press releases, typed statements, and entire books (“Cyclopedia of engineering;: a manual of steam boilers, steam pumps, steam engines, gas and oil engines, marine and locomotive work”) Clicking on an item in the search results list takes you directly to the that item at the holding institution’s Web site.

I would love an RSS feed. I would love a quick way to do a search within a search. But this is nice. The options for zeroing in on results are terrific. If you’re interested in Canadian history this is a must-visit.

University of Texas at Austin Launches History Site

The University of Texas at Austin announced Monday the launch of Not Even Past, a Web site devoted to history at http://www.notevenpast.org/. (The name of the site is from a Faulkner quote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”) The site is for short articles on all aspects of history.

There are several sections to explore. Read takes you to recommended books about particular aspects of history, while Watch recommends movies. There are also sections for discovery (at the moment, images and texts) listening to historical recordings, and a Texas-specific section.

The site also offers virtual courses. There are three being offered this semester, each taught by a faculty member in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. (You’ll have to register on the site to sign up.) Not Even Past also has podcasts, but only a couple at this point.

It’s plain to see that this resource has just launched — there’s not much in the way of archives yet — but if it keeps up with the virtual courses and multimedia content it’s going to be a terrific site. Wish I could find the RSS feeds, though.

Testimonies of the 1641 Irish Rebellion, Now Online

Independent.ie recently had a story about a new online archive of testimonies to the 1641 Rebellion in Ireland. (If you’re not up on your history of Ireland — I’m not either — you can get an overview of the event here.)”

Anyway, this online collection is 8,000 depositions by onlookers that runs to 31 volumes containing 19,000 pages. You can access it at http://1641.tcd.ie/. (Searching is open but looking at transcripts requires registration. All registration requires is an e-mail and a password.)

You can search the collection by name, full-text keyword, or by county. (An advanced search allows you a LOT more options, including gender, religion, age range, and date range of deposition.) I did a search for John Smith, and got 30 results. Results were not just depositions from people named John Smith, but depositions where people named John Smith are mentioned.

Clicking on the deposition name gives you a transcription of the deposition, with markings and other indications to show notations of the transcription. (Look at the site FAQ to get details on how to read these markings.) The site sticks faithfully to the original spelling and construction to the deposition, as you can see below:

“And that by the hand and meanes of the vnder named persons vyd Oliuer delahoide of [ffonerloe] in the said County Esquire accompanyed with fortie or fiftie men armed with pikes swords & guns aboute the 15th of January as aforesaid came of night vpon this deponents said land & with force & armes caryed away nyne & thirty cowes & one bull of this deponents proper goods”

Each transcript also has a link to view images of the original deposition, which shows in an overlay window. This window has tools to zoom way in, pan around, etc. You’re not going to get any words out of these original images unless you’re Super Archivist, so if you’re just trying to get a sense of the rebellion stick with the transcripts.

For more background on the 1641 rebellion, visit the historical background part of the site.

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