Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

American Originals

May 11, 2009

Source & Documents Illustrating the American Revolution 1764-1788 and the formation of the Federal Constitution, second edition, selected and edited by Samuel Eliot Morison.

As Read by JPD,

Letters from a Farmer, John Dickinson
from Letter XII

“Let these truths be indelibly impressed on our minds—that we cannot be HAPPY, without being FREE—that we cannot be free, without being secure in our property—that we cannot be secure in our property, if, without our consent, others may, as by right, take it away—that taxes imposed on us by parliament, do thus take it away—that duties laid for the sole purpose of raising money, are taxes—that attempts to lay such duties should be instantly and firmly opposed—that this opposition can never be effectual, unless it is the united effort of these provinces—that therefore BENEVOLENCE of temper towards each other, and UNANIMITY of counsels, are essential to the welfare of the whole—and lastly, that for this reason, every man among us, who in any manner would encourage either dissension, dissidence, or indifference, between these colonies, is an enemy to himself, and to his country.”

Virginia Bill of Rights, 12 June 1776

I. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.


Leviathan; or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil

March 14, 2009

Is it just me, or is it really rather difficult to find a nice hardcover edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan? Oxford / Blackwell seemed to have published one in 1946, 1955 and 1960 with an introduction by Michael Oakeshott. Prices for this Oxford / Blackwell vary between $10 and $100. The current edition of the text, the 1996 Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought edited by Richard Tuck is easily found in paperback, but again I’d prefer a cloth bound edition. There was issued a hardback edition of Tuck’s Cambridge in its first year, but this seems to be scarce today ranging from $190 to $480 in the used category. Looks like I may have to go with a slightly soiled Oxford / Blackwell for now.

Burr bib.

November 16, 2007

The Old School:
Memoirs of Aaron Burr Vol. I (1855)
ed. Matthew Livingston Davis
The Life and Times of Aaron Burr (1893)
By James Parton
Aaron Burr:His Personal and Political Relations with Thomas Jefferson…(1902)
By Isaac Jenkinson
The Aaron Burr Conspiracy (1903)
By Walter Flavius McCaleb. Originally presented as the author’s thesis (Ph.D.)–University of Chicago.
History of the United States, Vol. II (1909)
by Henry Adams

More Scientific to Check:
The West Florida Conroversy, 1798-1813: A Study in American Diplomacy
The Early Exploration of Louisiana
by Isaac Joslin Cox


September 26, 2007

If Time gets spent, energy’s displayed,
When morning reaches daylight, Body is maid.
night falls to Silence, inevitably
extension of knowledge requires all Three.


I A Characteristic
I B Sub-forms of I A
I C Completely determinite forms of I A

2 A Reality so characterized
2 B Sub-class of 2 A
2 C Individual members of 2 A

When a thing is understood as itself, it can exist as IA or 2A, and only in the singular.  Where the grammar indicates that some selection is being made, (either as ‘this x’ or ‘an x’, etc.) the remaining four senses are all possible.

See: civilization. 

Resources for the Doxographic tradition

May 16, 2007

Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis (CCCM)
The Continuatio Mediaevalis assembles Christian texts from the Carolingian era to the end of the Middle Ages. It also includes works absent from Migne’s Patrologia Latina or published elsewhere in a deficient way.

Raimundi Lulli Opera latina (ROL)
Ioannis Rusbrochii Opera omnia
Gerardi Magni Opera omnia
Hermes Latinus: Opera omnia
Lexica Latina Medii Aevi
Sciptores Celtigenae


Corpus Christianorum Series Latina (CCSL)
This is a series of critical editions of all the Latin texts of Christian writings from the first eight centuries.


Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH)
The collection consists of five main areas, Antiquitates, Diplomata, Epistolae, Leges, Scriptores as well as Necrologia

MGH is a comprehensive series of edited and published sources for the study of German history from the end of the Roman Empire to 1500. The society to sponsor the series was established by the Prussian reformer Heinrich Friedrich Karl Freiherr vom Stein in 1819 and the first volumes appeared in 1826.

All of its publications which have been in print for more than five years can now be read online, in photo-digital reproduction, via


Patrologia Latina (PL)
Jacques-Paul Migne’s Patrologia Latina, published between 1844 and 1855, and the four volumes of indexes published between 1862 and 1865. The Patrologia Latina comprises the works of the Church Fathers from Tertullian in 200 AD to the death of Pope Innocent III in 1216. Cataloged as a CD-ROM at NYPL, also possibly a Chadwyck database.

See also: Online catalogue at

travel, tribulare, and no uncertain building blocks

October 3, 2006

Worthington Chauncey Ford’s address to the American Historical Association from 1912 provides an important insight into the timeless nature of archival reference. Underneath all our finding aids, added entries and keywords lingers the resilient capital of trust. As the story goes Ford told an inquiring researcher that there were no restrictions, and all privileges. The other day a stranger walked into the reading room peddling an odd story about a certain document of American Loyalists having once been part of a book and perhaps destroyed by cannon fire resurfacing in the late nineteenth century and auctioned off whereby they were potentially split apart with parts landing in the collections in various locations through a donor Reid.

I pointed the gentleman to the American Loyalists card catalog drawer and he was off, within minutes becoming interested in the ‘Royal Commission on Loyalists Claims,’ an uncataloged collection of 7 volumes by Daniel Parker Coke. The collection, Coke, Daniel Parker. Notes. Royal Commission on American Loyalists’ Claims, 1783-85 is found in seven manuscript volumes. The Coke papers comprise of memoranda taken by Mr. Daniel Parker Coke of the evidence presented before the Royal Commission on the claims of the American Loyalists from 1783-85. The notes Coke jotted down in legal hand confirm testimony of of known Loyalists.

In 1915 the Daniel Parker Coke Notes were Edited by Hugh Edward Egerton and printed in one single volume by the Roxburghe Club. This Roxburghe edition was gratuitously torpedoed by a German U-boat on route to the United States on the steamship Arabic. The Roxburghe Club, rathern than becoming enfeebled by German action, promptly reprinted the volume sending copies back to their intended destinations and included a slip regarding U-boat episode.

The 1915 Egerton edition was republished in 1969 by Arno Press and in 1971 by Burt Franklin as number 756 in its Research & Source Works Series containing an index of names helpful for finding specific persons within the seven volumes.  However, the 1915, 1969, 1971 edition is abridged and contains only those entries Egerton thought to bare upon the social and economic history of the time, including the price of land and of slaves, professional earnings. How and what Egerton edited is a virgin territory of study, and perhaps interesting glimpse into British historical editing of documents from the Colonial era.  Ford’s dictum that 9 out of 10 inquirers do not know what they want, but must dig out their facts as they go along was, in this example, quite evident.

perspectives upon standing up

September 26, 2006

If it is true that there are two types of people, as Mark Oppenheimer claims in his important opinion piece  in the September 22nd issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, “those who were deeply saddened by Barbara Epstein’s death in June and those who had never heard of her,” then I suppose I must fall into the former camp. Oppenheimer’s article rings particularly true to me in a number of ways.  For the last three years my closest friend has worked at the NYRB, first under Mrs. Epstein and later Robert Silvers. Despite my friend ultimately having the intellectual upper hand, our almost daily, ongoing conversations have been assisted by evidence from certain articles published in the Review.  In the summer of 2003, following the NYRB Classics imprints, we thought it would be a good idea to read Edmund Wilson’s To the Finland Station.  It was my introduction to Edmund Wilson, and perhaps a turning point in my development, as I learned it was possible to discuss Marx and Engels from a journalistic or biographical point of view in addition to the ideological.  In college I had read the usual Marx and Engel’s essays a college kid reads, but was mistaken in attempts to bolster these readings with Marxian criticism of the Frankfurt School, such as Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment While this book might have been important to me as a young, flailing college student, I was left with many unanswered questions for Marxist cultural theory.  In the lunch area where I work, I recently put up a picture of Eleanor Marx, Karl’s youngest daughter in part because it reminds me of how much I prefer Wilson’s more personal version of Marx. But also it also serves as a symbol of how reading Wilson‘s To the Finland Station opened my mind to a plane of historical imagination, where I felt comfortable claiming knowledge based on my ability to recognize the power of individual personalities in the historical process.

The knowledge of knowledge is a scary one. Who wants to come off as a pedant, or know-it-all bore? Furthermore, it is impossible to know everything.  But we must not let this impossibility further encumber our ability to know anything at all.  We must take stands, recognizing their potential for err, and claim knowledge or else risk further obfuscation of the intellectual tradition.  The archivist or reference librarian is particularly well suited to help restore this type of action to the academic community as we are depended on not for our critical thinking, but our ability to at least grasp the popular versions of academic debates.  While I might not be able, nor would I want to tell a person every possible reading of a certain diary of David S. Edwards, I can tell a person that the David S. Edwards Papers contain first hand descriptions of Italian antiquities which may be important to a scholar interested in transatlantic romanticism.

Why is any of this necessary considering how simple it is to discover Edmund Wilson, Karl Marx or David S. Edwards simply looking them up in a library’s electronic catalog? Online catalogs are on the verge of exploding beyond the control of traditional librarian techniques.  The phenomenon of the unfortunately monikeredmashups” is going to stretch the OPAC until it breaks, after which it will never be put back together the same way.  It will then be doubly important for archivists and librarians in reference positions to make basic claims about their collection. I will addmy feeling that these so-called “mashups” are good for the OPAC, since they signify an end of (failed) attempts to make computers recreate card catalogs, and instead point to a future in which computers can be  employed within libraries in ways they are better suited for i.e. information distribution.  One can begin to feel somewhat weightless contemplating the electronic catalog of the future, and perhaps to academic types this whole trajectory appears cliche.  Borges offered as solution his idea that “The Library is unlimited and cyclical in his 1941 Ficciones. But what we must not lose sight of as archivists, is how our resources are used by a wide range of scholars.  We will continue to offer sources to sophisticated scholars who are experts in their fields, but rather than be intimidated or consigned to dealing only with experts as silent partners, we should feel comfortable even where we may only know an intellectual argument as a layperson.

Some possible benefits of Harvard’s H20.

September 15, 2006

I’ve just come across the Harvard H20 project and for some reason am attracted to it. Reading lists and syllabi are an effective way of constructing useful arguments and sharing ideas. From what I can understand H2O creates feeds of materials from reading lists, or what they call ‘playlists,’ on any subject a user wishes to focus on. I’ve created a profile and will experiment by creating a playlist on accessing archival material at NYPL. If this proves successful, I plan to create a ‘reading list’ on manuscript collections within other archival repositories. If unsuccessful, I will erase the playlist as well as this post and carry on my merry way. The potential benefit of H20 is the promotion of published editions, or digital versions of manuscript collections that currently collect dust on library shelves but serve as a basic supplement for archival research. For instance the Complete Writings of Roger Williams which lie sadly offsite, and not in the Manuscripts and Archives Reading Room.

This post will change as I reconsider and restruct the H20 playlist, such is the fluidity of the web as a medium for communication. The first struggle I forsee is how to include such classics as Catalogue of Latin and vernacular alchemical manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland, dating from before the XVI century. Hiding behind this post is a larger question over how archival reference is best performed. Does everyone know that they should have a Dictionary of Ancient Greek at the ready at all times, and isn’t it overkill to put that in an RSS format? The internet is the future and our present, so perhaps thinking in terms of ‘playlists’ will help me understand the revolutionary ideas behind 2.everything. The shadow of books is cast over the internet as print sources remain the far superior tool for accurate and responsible research.

Perhaps 2.0 projects like H20’s shared syllabi will prove an effective way to share and promote newly minted Google books. The belief behind the Google project is that full-text search is the way of the future. Being somewhat familiar with the argument in “Will Google’s Keyword Searching Eliminate the Need for LC Cataloging and Classification?” by Dr. Thomas Mann, I am of the opinion that subject searching still has vital significance to future research. If one looks at the Google record for O’Callaghan’s The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674, they see a PDF sitting on the Google server waiting for someone to happen across it using a keyword search such as ‘William Niuman’s wife.’ Since is completely new, somewhat unexplored and changing daily, I could potential use an H2O playlists to find and perhaps “catalog” relavant titles ready to be gobbled up from the Google menace.

The H20 interface allows users to copy other resources from other people’s libraries and add them to their own. This reminds me somewhat of LibraryThing, but the H2O’s shared syllabi create lists of books arranged by subjects and not lists of books added to LibraryThing’s libraries. The difference would be browsing a stranger’s book shelf at a party and getting a suggested reading list should be quite obvious to everyone. H2O also allows users to link to any type of document, while LibraryThing is limited to books.

My first ‘playlist’ is accessible here.

florescent / degenerate

September 15, 2006


Gray, Charles Edward. A Measurement of Creativity in Western Civilization,
American Anthropologist, 1966

Archive Blogs

September 13, 2006

What is an Archive Blog? This should be a crucial question as the growing field of “blogs about archives” offers up posts stretching from the recent SAA conference to South Carolina Gamecocks. Perhaps it would it be helpful to make a distinction between official blogs relating to news and services from archival repositories and personal blogs written by people who happen to work in archives? The ‘2.0‘ world tends to unite people with common interests on general topics, bringing computer users together and allowing for the positive information sharing models. However, archives are used by a wide range of people such as academics of all types, journalists, art researchers, genealogists, authors, archaeologists, etc. who search for answers and uncover stories in collections of materials described and organized by archivists. I understand this is a very simplistic interpretation of the function of archives but still I wonder if it is in the best interest of archives to consider ‘Archive Blogs’ to be blogs written by archivists only? Using blogs to create additional information to finding aids seems to me to be a legitimate purpose of an ‘archives blog,’ but apart from the Polar Bear Expedition Club I haven’t seen too much experimentation with blog-like technology and collection description. Perhaps I need to keep searching for an someone crazy enough to be making Finding Aids 2.0.

Anyway, to repeat to myself, I ask again just what is an Archive Blog? What is the role of blogs in archivists lives? I could ask this question in a thousand different ways and each answer would be as important as the next. I have witnessed how blogging tends to suck the life out of people as they turn from multidimensional humans into single-minded RSS feeds. Blogging deserves a large amount of criticism even from those who do partake in it, as a technology it rests on flimsy foundations of emerging, changing tools and only a slim representation of people find time to write them. Constructive criticism is just and no matter how much I think blogging is purile, I still can’t help from posting these silly notes. Back to archives, I fear that it’s almost absurd to consider ‘blogs about archives’ in anyway capable of truly reflecting the nature and significance of the documents contained in archives and that it would be somewhat of a blunder on the part of anyone truly committed to the collection and preservation of historical materials in any serious way to closely link themselves with fleeting phenomena such as Blogger, Moveable Type, Technorati or WordPress. However, I might be wrong and should have rather spent the last 4-6 minutes cutting and pasting odd facts into the computer such as how yesterday I saw our uncataloged document, Examination of Tittuba the Indian Woman, 1692.