Thursday, September 29, 2016

The world's oldest library

The world's oldest library,  al-Qarawiyyin Library, is in Fez, Morocco. It was founded by a woman! and has been operating since 859 AD. In 2012 an assessment of the facility found that it was rotting due to water running through the roof and underneath the building. In addition to major structure changes to preserve the building, a lab now digitizes some of the text to help make them available. It is now open to the public, not just a few scholars. It is a beautiful building with amazing collections. I hope to hear more about the collections in the future. See some amazing images and read more about it here

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Chinese skeletons indicate Chinese in Roman Britain!

Talk about an amazing find changing long held assumptions....Chinese skeletons found in London date between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD. This is the first time Asian skeletal remains from Roman Britain have been identified and also only the 3rd or 4th time they've ever been found in what was the Roman Empire and only the second they've been found at a verified Roman site. Identification of the Asian people was made through dental enamel samples. They were clearly not born in Britain. Prior to this, one man's remains, believed to be Asian, were found in Italy. This changes long held archaeological and historical assumptions about the homogeneous society of Roman Britain and the relationships between the two empires of China and Rome. The empires may have had more interaction than ever imagined, probably trade between the two. Trade was believed mostly to have occurred in the Mediterranean. That Asian traders would have come to London was never seriously considered by historians apparently until now. The skeletal remains could be of soldiers, traders, or slaves. I hope they do further tests as slaves usually have stress marks on their bones from overwork or their teeth show poor nutrition. Hopefully more results will be published on this very interesting discovery soon. Read more about it here     and hear the lead curator discuss it on BBC Radio here

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Banned Books week 2016

Happy Banned Books Week to you!

Here's information from the American Library Association about the week.

Here's a list of frequently challenged and banned books for 2015:  and other lists of most challenged books by decade, over time, frequently challenged authors-

Monday, September 26, 2016

presidential signatures

There are a lot of presidential signatures in our current exhibit. Here's George Washington's.He and I share the same birthday February 22. This made me wonder, besides books, what else, if anything, do we have about/by George Washington in the Clarke? We have 54 catalog entries about George Washington. Most are books, some are oratories or addresses lauding him after he died. His inauguration and other aspects of his life and character were/are still celebrated long after he died. These were created mostly for adults but also for children. We have certificates of appointment for Daniel B. Ainger, 1887/1889 that celebrate the centennial of Washington's inauguration. We also have an 1845 invitation to a military and civil Ball to Abel F. Fitch and his wife to commemorate Washington's birthday. There are many more secondary sources about George and Martha in the Park Library. We also have a children's fictional book about Martha in the Clarke.

We also have two  manuscript letters of Civil War soldiers who noted that they visited Mount Vernon: Letter to Maria, by Andrew Bowers (101st New York Infantry, Company C), May 25, 1862; Letters of Hiel P. Clark (3rd Michigan Infantry, Company D), 18961-1869.

I recently read that Mount Vernon Ladies Association and the National Park Services, which run Mount Vernon, are finally acknowledging a truth they have strongly suspected or known for awhile, but chose not to publicly admit, that Martha's grandson (not George's) Parke Custis, had a white family and also had children with two slave women, Arianna "Airy" Carter and Caroline Branham. Parke fathered at least two girls with Airy, Maria Carter, who later married another slave at the house, which was a rare honor. Parke freed her and her two sons in 1826, leaving then 17 acres. Her son, John, was educated and serve in elective offices, and the other, William, was a chief messenger of the Dept. of the Interior and pushed for public high schools for African Americans in D.C. He also had two sons with Caroline Branham.  Read more about this here

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture

On Friday, President Obama opened the new African American Museum in Washington, DC., part of the Smithsonian. The major British architect with African heritage who planned the building, sought to bring people together in the building and engage them in ongoing discussions on racial relations. The museum seeks to fill a hole in history. The building combines elements from Africa and the Americas into its design.  See video and read more about it here  Here's the museum's website

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mary Rose 3-d online exhibit

The Mary Rose Museum is creating an online exhibit of 3-d reconstructions of skulls and scans of other materials found in the shipwreck. Very interesting. One of the treasurers for scientists and historians is the every day objects, including clothes, of everyday people. See here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

pre-Friday archives report - Collections pouring in

Golden Key Club Box #1
I'm reporting this a day early because so much is coming in lately. I don't know if this happens to other archivists, but I swear every day last week and this week that I have left my space for 20 minutes or more, another collection, or two, appears.

I received collections on 1970s protests, a CD documenting the planning of our learning commons (Copeland Suite), MI Audubon Society, H.H. Dow materials,  soil books, and two large boxes of a now defunct CMU registered student organization, the Golden Key Club National Honor Society.

Golden Key Club Box 2

Golden Key Club pendant

H.H. Dow box

H.H. Dow Oversized

1970s protest sign

MI Audubon Society

Soil materials looking for a good home
Copeland Suite CD