Showing posts from September, 2012

Iraq's National Archives Requests/Preserves Papers

With all the turmoil of its past, Iraq's historic papers and manuscripts of its police, dictator, its national archives, has been dispersed. It is estimated that tens of thousands of documents went to the US or to journalists and others. The National Archives of Iraq is pleading for materials to be returned so they can be repaired and preserved for public use. Archivists are asking for special rules to keep the materials and protect the innocent while allowing access to certain record groups, such as the secret police. Interesting. It looks like they are filming the records as well.  Click here for more

More on Jerry Adams and his role in the IRA

This in from the Irish News. convicted bomber Dolours Price has admitted and says it is documented in her oral history interview at Boston College that Jerry Adams ordered bombings in Britain. He denies it. Even if this is her version of events and it is on the oral history tape, that does not necessarily mean it occurred unless corroborating evidence is found. The tapes are the subject of a major American court case about whether or not they should be turned over the recordings to the Irish Police to prosecute IRA members, to determine collusion then from people like Adams who are now a major player in the peace process, and to find the bodies of those who are still missing.  For more read

ancient mirror to be sold

For a mere 23,000 British pounds you can own an Iron Age mirror. It is gorgeous. The cash will help out the Dorset County Museum in Britain, plus help preserve history. Don't be shy about purchasing it if you have that much money just lying around. Take a peek at Apparently, there are only 30 which have been discovered in the UK. This one dates from the time of the Roman Conquest in Britain which began, as I'm sure you all know off the tops of your heads,  in 43 AD. The mirror was found in a grave of what must have been a wealthy, powerful person. With the "body buried in a crouched position, [were] two brooches, an armlet, copper tweezers, coins and glass beads." Thanks to the BBCNews for such fascinating news. What kind of a life did this person lead to merit such a burial in 43 AD? Did s/he die as a result of the Roman invasion? How I wish that skeleton could talk!  How rich and honored they must have been. No…

Call for papers

a newer, younger Mona Lisa?

Another Mona Lisa portrait has been found in a vault. It looks like it could be another DaVinci, but is it? The Master painted on wood, this portrait is on canvas. Fascinating. So much has been written about The Smile and the portrait, possibly the greatest in the world, certainly the most affecting, has in turn affected all of us, pop culture, serious art studies, intro to art history students. For more see this short video at

Google to add coral reefs to street views

I do not see how swimming about coral reefs is akin to driving somewhere on a road except that both involve movement towards a location. Google has put them together so you can see the coral reefs. The images are gorgeous. This makes me think I should update my GPS. I would like to set it on highway only or fastest route instead of its preferred route, wandering through the countryside forever.  For more info on the coral reefs addition to street maps,  click here

Iran blocks Google access

Iran has blocked Google access. They say it is in retaliation for the film on Google's UTube insulting Mohammed, which has led to severe protests and the murder of 4 men, including our ambassador Chris Stevens. However, there have been no such protests in Iran. Interestingly, to avoid government blocks or firewalls on the Internet access, most Iranians used Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), so how much will this affect them?

ancient Egyptian tombs reopened

After a 10 year renovation process, many ancient Egyptian tombs are being reopened to the public. What a shame with the world being in turmoil that going there isn't safe. Hopefully this will change soon to benefit those of us who would love to visit the tombs someday, and the Egyptians. I don't know about you, but I usually watch every ancient Egyptian PBS special and read about them in National Geographic. How fascinating we find other cultures' funeral practices and after life beliefs when they are over the top, like the Egyptians. For more information, and really neat images click here

Irish potato famine potato sample archives analyzed

I am studying Irish history in America and in Ireland for a future paper. Just read in the BBCNews that two scientists during the 1840s and 1870s potato famines kept potato blight samples as an archives of the horror. They figured there was a relationship between them, but couldn't prove it, and hoped someday someone would figure it out. The samples were recently analyzed and they are indeed the same blight. Scientists are using the data and how it passed from crop to crop to help with other blight issues. How brilliant of those 19th century scientists! They should get some credit for their futuristic thinking.  For more info click at

Celtic coin hoard info

I previously blogged about a huge cache of Celtic coins discovered in a field in Jersey, Britain,  uncovered by metal detector enthusiasts. The enthusiasts picked the location because a woman told them her father had found coins there years before. 70,000 coins plus jewelry are in the huge hoard which over time became stuck together. It is the largest pile of coins of its type found to date. It is believed the coins date from the time Caesar invaded Gaul, 50 B.C. People fled the oncoming army and threw their gold in a pit. So far, no two coins separated from the layers of coins are alike. They figure it will take 6-8 years for conservationists to separate all the coins. The coins apparently come from a French Celtic nation, Coriosolite, that controlled the area around St. Malo and Dinan, France. Cool. Why that particular location? Could it have been a holy site, or unholy, an early banking site? Maybe there was something covering it at one point? TO read the article and see cool image…

Georgia St. Archives to close Oct. 31st

After Oct. 31, you can use the archives by appointment only. This is because of recent budget cuts. Lots of people are upset. Neighboring southern state archives have more limited hours, but none are closing. What will be the conclusion? If it is closed, how many employees will be fired eventually or soon? For more info read here

More info here courtesy of MAA listserv

Jesus' wife reference found on papyrus fragment

A fragment of a 4th century Coptic papyrus gospel has revealed a reference to Jesus having a wife. This does not mean he had one or did not have one. Someone wrote it on one piece of papyrus. Earlier sources do not mention a wife.  Nor do any other sources. Could it just be an ancient typo? Maybe the scribe had two works in progress and move one line of a love poem into a gospel? People had differing beliefs then and different discussions about faith. Eventually certain groups with power limited everyone's options. I love reading about Gnostic Gospels and Dead Sea scrolls to try and understand that the history and development of early Christianity and theology. Christianity had a messy history and the main (orthodox) beliefs were established at least as much from politics, popularity, might and war, as from the dispersal of knowledge and divine inspiration. Also, this could be a fake.  And, just because there was a movie about the topic, doesn't mean it happened. It doesn'…

HIstory of the World (What gets taught or not)

This is for my teacher friends who wonder if it matters to teach about every important person, event, and discovery on the standards list. Our perception of history and how it is taught, and what is taught, has changed as our place in the world changes. Do you as a teacher instruct your students about the impact of every major pope and king, every major battle? Most of what I remember learning about was American history, social studies, now it is world culture, and it covers the world. Interesting. Click here for more

Banned books again

Sept. 30-Oct. 6 is banned books week. Here's a list. I bet some of your favorites are on it. A number of books in the Clarke and Park are on the list. I read many in college and high school, or saw the movie.Check out how often certain books have been banned or challenged as being "acceptable" and when. Did you know Gone with the Wind was banned? Grapes of Wrath? Catcher in the Rye?  Here's the list

At CMU, the Dept. of English Language and Literature will host a series of events all week including youth read outs, a panel discussion, and a film about banned books. There will be a school board meeting enactment to demonstrate how books are banned or attempts to ban them occur. Check it out on Facebook at You can volunteer to be involved and help promote reading, not banning more books.

anti-pirating in France

A man was fined in France after his wife downloaded patented songs. Mr. Alain Prevost paid for the web link, so he got fined 121 British pounds or 150 euros. He is the first person fined under the new anti-pirating law in France.  You get three warnings. Obviously, Mrs. Alain Prevost did not pay attention to the warnings. Because Mr. and Mrs. are embarking upon a divorce, and Mr. went to the police with evidence that he had taken the warnings seriously and tried to stop his ex-to be from downloading, his fine was reduced to a tenth of what it could have been. Fourteen other people are on a list to be fined as well. The original fine is up to 1500 euros of 1,200 British pounds. I wonder if his fine will be considered in their divorce finances? To read more, click here

Look out criminals! Tech'y is after you!

Just read an exciting article that researchers have discovered that there are only 5 genes that predict your facial features. DNA also determines our other features, like hair and eye color. Blood can tell how old you are. While this DNA technology cannot be used to "draw" a portrait of a criminal now, researchers believe that time is quickly approaching. How cool! This will help police determine who committed a crime, what they looked like, from DNA or blood left at a crime scene. It could also be used to identify partial remains, damaged corpses, murder victims, remains from war, etc. Fascinating! For more, read here

Job ad HSM


first color film UK 1902

The first color film which dates to 1902, created by a film pioneer, pioneer Edward Raymond Turner from London, of his 3 children is lovely, historic, and can be seen here He patented his unique color process on 22 March 1899. Unfortunately, for the world of color film, he died later in 1902.

Richard III"s body may have been found

I wrote previously about excavations in Leicester, England, in what was a church choir area, now a parking lot, where Richard III's body was reportedly buried after he was defeated in battle, leading to the reign of the Tudors. Well, the excavation crew located a well-preserved male body, damaged by battle wounds, with curvature of the spine. "Rigorous laboratory" tests will commence including comparison of the body's DNA with known Richard III familial descendants. Is this the king? How exciting! Will they give him a nicer burial if it is the king? And if so, where?

Banned books week approaches

I'm going to run this again this week since this is an important local and national event.

Sept. 30-Oct. 6 is banned books week. Here's a list. I bet some of your favorites are on it. Check out how often certain books have been banned or challenged as being "acceptable" and when. Did you know Gone with the Wind was banned?  Here's the list

At CMU, the Dept. of English Language and Literature will host a series of events all week including youth read outs, a panel discussion, and a film about banned books. Check it out on Facebook at You can volunteer to be involved and help promote reading, not banning more books.

FDR's administration covered up Soviet's Katyn massacre

Document recently released by the National Archives support the idea that the US knew what happened at Katyn, that the Soviets killed Polish officers, politicians, and intellectuals, not the Nazis, and that the US covered it up to keep the Soviets fighting with them against Germany and Japan. A report sent to FDR from Churchill written by the British ambassador of Poland's government-in-exile, Owen O'Malley, noted that much evidence threw "serious doubt" on Soviet claims of innocence in the massacre. Also, British and Americans POWS were taken by Nazis to see the decomposed bodies to prove the Nazis hadn't killed the Poles. Their reports were sent in coded messages to Washington in 1943. Interesting. Also this information was not noted as existing in the records in Congressional hearings in 1951-1952, which suggests a coverup of the information. For more read the article in the BBCNews at 
and check out the news rel…

E-Info news on Mon.

Two hot bits to wake you up after the weekend are in the news today.

First, Al-Jazeera, the Arab news network, based on Qatar was hacked  by a pro-Syrian group, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) for the fourth time. SEA has also attacked the news network's English website, Twitter accounts, Saudi-owned AL Arabiya News and Harvard's website. SEA gets around, doesn't it?  I don't remember hearing about Harvard's site. Maybe they kept quiet about it. Al-Jazeera has covered the Syrian civil war extensively. SEA is apparently pro-Assad.  Pro-Assad supporters also hacked Reuters' Twitter site in August.  Hacking is here to stay and encompasses many governments, businesses, university, and news sites at home and abroad. Clearly Al-Jazeera needs to invest in some good anti-hacking staff and methods.

Second, a US hacker, Joshua Schichtel, has been jailed for 30 months for renting out over 72,000 PCs with computer viruses. They were linked to millions of PCs by network, c…

newly identified Emily Dickinson image found

An image researched for 5 years at Amherst College Archives has now been tentatively identified as being a new unknown image of Dickinson with a friend Kate Scott Turner, whom Dickinson visited. For more information click here.

Teaching workshop tomorrow

Tomorrow in Lansing I will be teaching a Basic Archives workshop through the Historical Society of MI for 36 people. Everything they need to know, basically about environment, housing, processing, patron access vs. security, copyright, and disaster planning and prevention.

Met today with our Electronic Records consultant. So many issues on ERs: scanning, copies, backups, metadata, copyright, workflow, hardware, software, costs, policies, forms. Hopefully, in the long run we will have a systematic best practices policy in place, realizing that with ERs things change all the time, including policies and best practices.

IRA tapes to go to Supreme Court

Now the legal battle over the IRA oral history tapes at Boston College being turned over to the police in Ireland has jumped a level to the Supreme Court. The police are fighting to get the tapes, the historians who recorded members of the IRA are fighting for the tapes to stay at Boston College and to be inaccessible until those interviewed die, and Boston College has a separate legal battle going on. In July, an Appeals Court ruled that the tapes should go to the Irish police. This is a story about crime, justice, archives, oral history, and donor privacy agreements. What will the final result and impact be on historians, those who are interviewed or who donate, and archives? For more click here

previously unknown moon landing recording found

In 1969, a British family recorded the BBC's live news report of the moon landing. The mum, thinking like a historian/archivist, noted the date and event. Neil Armstrong's voice comes across well. The BBC recording was lost for years. The son of the family knew the tape existed and found it,probably prompted by Armstrong's recent death. For more and to listen via video click here