Showing posts from July, 2012

Titanic menu/medal sold

A Titanic menu from April 10th, 3 days before the ship sank killing 1522 people just sold at auction for 46,000 British pounds.  Let's just say it is a tasty menu if you are used to eating well. The man who sent the menu to his wife perished when the ship when down. The medal was given to officers of the Carpathia, the rescue ship. This particular one was awarded to Second Officer James Bisset. It sold for 41,000 British pounds. For cool images see

Andrew S. Clark Civil War letters

Recently a donor gave us 180 Civil War letters, mostly between Andrew S. Clark of Grand Traverse County, MI, his wife Eliza A. Wyckoff Bachelder Clark, and her son, Amara J. Bachelder. Most of the letters span 1862-1865 and concern farm life. One

huge botnet spam creator shut down

Believed to be responsible for 18% of the world's spam, a huge botnet named Grum, based in Ukraine, Panama, and Russia was recently shut down. It functioned using 18 infected computers. That's the good news. The bad news is that the botnet immediately tried to rejuvenate itself elsewhere. Don't we all hate Spam, in the can or online? For more information click here

Lots of stolen art, cultural artifacts recovered

Nearly 20 years after museums were plundered, 834 pieces of art which thieves tried to pass into Britain presumably for sale on the black market, was found, identified, and returned to Afghanistan. Most was from the National Museum in Kabul. For a cool image and to read more click at  Also in the news, a Matisse portrait of a kneeling woman was found in the US 10 years after it was stolen from a Venezuelan museum. For more on that click I am so glad that there are teams out there looking for and recovering stolen art. I am so glad that art is valued internationally and that the thievery of it is understood to be a serious crime. When someone steals art or other artifacts or manuscripts of historic, cultural value, they steal from us all. I hope the thieves and their accomplices are punished to the full extent of the law.

Mummy portraits exhibit

Really, really cool portraits from tombs of mummies making Egyptians look more like Greeks or Romans. I remember seeing some of these when I was at UM in the Kelsey. Many images were somewhat idealized following accepted patterns of artistic expression. These are gorgeous images from 150 AD. Take a look at

Texting more than talking in the UK

More people text than talk on the phone now in the UK. Some very interesting stats: Now only 47% talk daily on the phone. Come to think of it I do not talk daily on the phone anymore. I spend most of my time at work and the phone only rings occasionally. This is because electronic communication has replaced the need for phones. Mobile phone calls are also falling, down 5% in 2011, landline calls down 10%. More people use smart phones to call, to access the Internet, or social networks.  96% of 24-year-olds are using some form of text-based communication. Something else I found interesting in the stats. The trend is for bigger and bigger and bigger tvs. 10 years ago people were buying tvs for each bedroom in the house. Now people are moving back into a common family tv room and bringing their e-devices along. This is so true of my family. We all check or read or email or play or something while in the tv room. What will be the future trends?
Fore more info check out the article at htt…

UK Forensic science archives to be closed

Due to lack of funds, a forensic archives in England and Wales was closed in March. It holds 1.7 million case files, going back over the last 30 years. The files are used to solve unsolved crimes and for appeals. The move is for the 43 police forces in England and Wales to each maintain their own archives. So instead of paying for 1 archives and staff, now they will pay for 43. Without consolidated, shared information, police, lawyers, scientists, and politicians all fear that it will be harder for the police to solve crimes.  No new funding is available to the 43 units to set up archives, staff, or pay for costs, yet each unit is now expected to make arrangements with a third party service provider to care for their archival information. Isn't that interesting? Because not all forensic info is able to be scanned. Think of knives, blood samples, clothing, etc. And it seems illogical and inefficient, not to mention ineffective or less effective than having 1 storage area where ever…

Jersey doesn't just give us cream

The island of Jersey, a Channel Island, is the site of a recent discovery of a huge hoard of 1st c. BC Roman and Celtic coins. Archaeologists aren't even sure how many coins there are, although they way 1/2 ton, because they are "cemented" together in clay. Jersey is the site of several large coin hoards found over the decades. Initial estimate are that the hoard may be worth 10 million British pounds and its value to ongoing knowledge about the Roman and Celtic eras and coinage will be beyond calculation. A point not covered in the article about which I am curious is, why Jersey? Was it a particularly wealthy area or was it a sacred spot? Maybe it was the site of international banking.  Is this why we think there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because the Romans and Celts buried gold? For more info read the BBCNews article at

scanning skulls to id murder victims

Forensic specialists once put clay over skulls to determine what a murder victim looked like to help identify the dead person and, hopefully, the murderer. Now digitizing is being used for the same purpose, to put flesh on bones. Depth of muscle and location of it is carefully coordinated to points where muscles attached on the original skull. A 3-D image can be created, animated, and made available to the public and investigators. Very cool. For more on this and related articles click here Although this is from the BBCNews it is about American investigations into Americans dead and unidentified for decades.

first map namig North America

A copy of the first map naming North America for Amerigo Vespucci has been found in Munich. It was previously unknown. The map was created by 16th c. cartographers. North America is a boomerang-shaped land, perhaps a large island. There were 2 versions of the map, a wall map and a map that was like a vertically sliced globe. Cool image click here

We have a lot of maps, published and manuscript, in the Clarke, MI, national, and international showing early Michigan. The earliest maps we have are from royal cartographers. They were the only ones who had permission from the king to create the official maps. We have many maps on loan from Port Huron Public Library. We also have quite a collection of oil drilling maps, road maps, tourism maps, county and township maps, auto club maps, and of course township plat maps. We also have handrawn maps from the Civil War and surveyors' maps and notes .  Some of the early maps a…

Photos of China project/ Chinese history collections

Did you  know that most pre-1970 photos of China have been destroyed over the years by the communists? Families destroyed their photos to avoid prosecution as bourgeoisie. A recent digital project sought collections of photos to make digital images available. Several British collections were used. For more on this project and to see some interesting photos click here  The destruction of photos has erased part of the past, part of their history.

I wonder if they are interested in non-British collections? That is not clear. Oberlin College has some wonderful collections of pre- and post-Boxer Rebellion images as missionaries connected to the college went to China to convert the natives. Most of the missionaries and their families and converts were killed. There are images of them in their homes, their Bible study groups, groups of converts, and some of their graves.

Also, at the Clarke we have some collections related to China, some with or wi…

rare medieval Welsh law book sold

1 of 80 known medieval books in Welsh was auctioned and is back in Britain for the first time since the 170ss. Once a century a book in Welsh is auctioned. That's pretty rare. What is cool about this one is that the Welsh laws were fairer to women that other laws of the day. The book is in good condition and lovely as well as quite usable. It was made to be carried in your pocket. To see cool video click here

IRA tapes must be given to Brit. police

With major implications for archives and oral historians, police, criminals, and the families of victims, the US court system ruled that IRA oral history tapes of Dolours Price, an IRA member, housed at Boston College Archives, must be turned over to Northern Ireland police investigators of the Troubles, the Disappeared, and the IRA. Donor agreements did not promise complete anonymity, but offered closure until the person who ws interviewed died. Two IRA members have since died and their tapes revealed information about unsolved murders and bodies not yet found, as well as implied that certain people were involved who are now involved in the peace process. Brit. demanded access and took the case to court. Boston College Archives fought to keep the tapes confidential, but lost. In the case of Dolours Price, who admitted involvement in the kidnapping of a mother of 10, Jean McConnell, who was killed and buried in secret by the IRA, Brit. decided to demand her oral history tapes. Access …

pottery way older than once thought

Every once and awhile I see a unique, handmade pottery bowl and I just have to have it. This happens maybe once every 8-10 years. So, I'm not really a collector, maybe an admirer would be a better way to put it. Recently, fragments from a bowl found in a cave in Jiangxi Province, China, were estimated to be 20,000 years old. Prior to this, scientists thought pottery only dated back 10,000 years. Thus, this doubles the age of humans creating pottery. It could have been used to cook food or brew alcohol in. Previously, scientists thought pottery dated from 10,000 yeas ago when humans developed the use of agriculture and sedentary lifestyle versus hunter/gather lifestyle. Isn't that interesting? Perhaps scientists will someday find that agriculture and sedentary lifestyle is also older than they thought, or maybe that artists have always lived among us and needed artistic outlets for their creativity like great bowls. For more info see Science magazine (one of my personal favs) o…

12th c. Spanish illuminated manuscript recovered

Stolen last year from a Spanish cathedral, the illuminated manuscript, Codex Calixtinus, which dates to 1150, is believed to be the earliest record of the pilgrims route called Santiago de Compostela. It was found in a garage. Four people were arrested, one of whom worked at the  Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, named for St. James the Greater. The image is lovely. I had a college roomie who hiked the trail and stayed at youth hostels. So many still travel the route.  I'm glad the police recovered this lovely example of incunabula and  a number of other valuable old books and lots of money. Sounds like the foursome were selling these treasures. What Philistines!

Wikileaks releasing Syrian insider info

Wikileaks is releasing information about Syria from its top leaders. Will the info prove embarrassing to Syria's government and to its allies or enemies? Chances are possible. I wonder why Wikileaks waited until now to do this. Are they hoping that it will prove more effective to the removal of the regime, or to increase disgust of it internationally, or do they have another reason?  As long as China or Russia refuse to act Syrian, it seems to me that nothing much is going to happen internationally to remove Syria's regime from power. For more info, although not much more, see the article at
The big question here is will Wikileaks continue to release info that is politically or internationally sensitive, and what impact is it going to have? If it is going to have a major impact, Wikileaks will prove an important force. If not, maybe it should work on other events.