Showing posts from November, 2014

Thanksgiving in the archives

We have two manuscripts (primary sources) that mention Thanksgiving and some nostalgic Thanksgiving postcards and greeting cards.

UK to get new anti-terrorism laws

Police, intelligence, and security forces in the UK will be more strongly empowered by new laws, if passed,  to fight terrorism into the future, where the fight will continue for an unknown number of years. One of the bills involves insurance companies definitely being banned from paying ransoms in the hope this will deter terrorists from taking hostages for ransoms. Which other bills are coming soon and which powers they will contain is not specified but they will definitely concern controlling and gathering information. A web data gathering plan is also back on the agenda for discussion. The UK is also conducting public information sessions to help people identify homegrown terrorists. The UK is on a high alert for terrorism. If the UK is doing this, other nations will follow. Read more about it here

Bern Art Museum to accept Gurlitt art

Switzerland's Bern Art Museum has agreed to accept Gurlitt's art, which he mostly inherited from his dad who got it as stolen art from Jews from the Nazis. The museum has agreed to work with authorities and descendants of those with claims to the art. The laws work in the favor of the museum. It is difficult to prove your claims. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Several families have very strong claims, others weaker due to lack of paper evidence and time. Some of the art has been "lost" for decades, even since WWII. The museum has stated that contested art will never enter the museum. It is all being kept in an unidentified place. Much of the art has suffered at least some damage as it was kept in less than stellar conditions. This will be a legal nightmare for the museum, and has certainly been a legal nightmare for decades for the families involved.  Read more about it here

Russian wikipedia

Russia (meaning Putin) plans to have its own version of Wikipedia. I smiled when I read this. Russia apparently believes that info about Russia needs to be fair and accurate and that it can do it better job of this than anyone else. Hmmm.  When I was at UM Library School the reference profs told us how the books from the USSR constantly had changed as people were "removed" from history. So the UM staff pasted the new pages over the old pages so you could see how reporting [d]evolved with time and regimes. Eventually, the Soviets sent people to rip entire sections out of the UM's  books on the USSR in order to remove the past history that they no longer approved of. What a sad history. Read more about it here

Steichen's photographs of the 1920s-1930s on exhibit

Archivist brings boxes of notable photographer Edward Steichen's prints made for major fashion magazines from the Conde Nast  archives in NY. [CN is a premier media company that creates some of the world's major magazines, mostly fashion.] The article says the photographs haven't seen the light of day in decades since they were created in the 1920s-1930s. I think not, but the title draws you to read the article. I think the archivist looked at them, and probably sleeved them, identified them, and inventoried them, too. The archivist clearly knew where they were located and was able to retrieve them for the journalist. I doubt the archivist appreciates the title of the article. The archivist is not named. I feel for the archivist, don't you?

A lot of the images involve big name female stars of the period wearing designer clothes because this pre-dates major models and the magazines knew they needed someone who looked good and comfortable on/with the camera. There are a…

Anonymous and the KKK

Anonymous. They really mean action, don't they? They attack full force out of nowhere. They are a force to be reckoned with. I admire their guts.

After the KKK blogged that it would hurt people who protested in  Ferguson, Missouri, and we all know what happened there, a white police officer shot an unarmed black youth, and the racial unrest that continues, which leads you to believe it has been happening for decades, Anonymous took over the KKK's online presence, exposing members via their FB accounts with addresses, phone numbers, work places, the names and ages of their kids, and even photographs of KKK family members.

Anonymous says it is not acting against free speech, but instead against the physical threats the KKK promised to protesters as a hate group. The KKK members have now been completely publicly exposed for the first time ever. I wonder if anyone will attack the KKK members now that they have been forced out of their sheets. Maybe they will be afraid for the firs…

Researching what your ancestors did in WWI

Hail to Europe which is making a really big deal out of remembering WWI and making available and known  to  the public many archival sources documenting people of that era. This is an interesting online step-by-step set of instructions about how to conduct your own family research for WWI veterans if you are from the UK. It is very similar to how you conduct American research, same types of records, sources, and research plans. Many American  enlistment or draft forms  are now available as well as other vital records (birth, marriage, death record) on Searching is not as easy as it is portrayed to be in tv commercials, but it is way easier than it was when you had to use microfilm on the old hand crank microfilm readers which didn't print or copy or download. Read more about it here

how old does a Microsoft tech have to be?

A boy who is five passed the Microsoft tech exam. This amazes me. Clearly, this little boy is not spending time with Disney. He uses words to describe questions on the test that I don't use myself. His dad coached him about the types of questions that would be on the test, but the boy passed it by himself. He is the youngest ever to take and pass the test. Makes the rest of us feel old. I hope he is more well-rounded than he sounds. To understand a motherboard at age 5...hmmm. I bet the child psychologists are having a field day with this case.  Maybe he is computer's equivalent of a Peter Hawking or physics' Dr. Sheldon Cooper.  Read more about it here

WWI Ulster photographer

Photographs of a WWI Ulster unit, taken illegally by a unit member (George Hackney) who survived the war, donated to an archives, have been found by the news and are showing an interesting view from a soldier's perspective. Individual cameras were outlawed, but he managed to keep one throughout the war and clearly some of his mates knew it. They fought in the Battle of the Somme. He was actually able to photograph some moments of the attack and Germans surrendering. See more here

US planes collecting thousands of data location info from phone

I'm sure you heard or read about this over the weekend on the news. If you didn't, please read this.  A plane flying over a large population centers, cities and airports, can pick up location info on millions of cell phones. This is great to catch criminals and terrorists, but the data is also collected for millions of innocent people on the ground. Civil libertarians have a big issue with this. I do as well, but I would give up my issues if the terrorists were caught. It is currently allowed due to existing laws against criminals and terrorists.  If this can be done over a population center in the US it can be done over foreign population centers as well.  Maybe the NSA is already doing it elsewhere, who knows? I think the fact that this was reported means it has happened for some time and it was kept quiet until now, probably because someone or some organization threatened to reveal it. Read more about it here

Napoleon collection being auctioned

An "exceptional" large collection of Napoleon materials, considered "the sale of the century", including objects such as the shirt he wore into exile, his iconic black hat (one of 19 surviving), letters, and other 3-d objects, gathered by the Royal family of Monaco, was auctioned last weekend. Read more about it here

Whose skeleton is it?

There is a skeleton in the huge Greek tomb that may be linked to Alexander the Great and/or his family! Nobody is saying anything specifically, but the one archaeologist thinks it is a male military leader. They weren't sure they were going to find a skeleton, but now they have. How exciting! Whose skeleton is it? Read more about it here

Two WWII related posts

This first link is about the Aleutian island, Kiska, which was invaded by the Japanese after a fight with Americans. The equipment from both sides remains on the island where it fell, including crashed planes, telephone poles, jeeps, and other equipment. It's s a small, mostly undisturbed WWII battlefield. Read more about it here

Secondly, a number of crashed planes are found on the Norway coast in arctic waters from WWII. Like the example above, the overall history of the squadrons and planes and men in them is known, but is becoming more distant and forgotten as increasing numbers of WWII vets die and immediate connection to that era and individuals of WWII is lost. Read more about the sunken planes here

medieval doodling

Are you a doodler? Well they existed as far back as medieval times as proven by scraps of papers used to pad binding in medieval books. Many include doodles of animals, faces, geometry, music, various languages, etc. It pains me that one man and his students are taking bindings off to see what is found within, but he seems to be doing it respectfully. Still, I'm sure rare books librarians will cringe reading this. An interesting quick view at

St. Francis of Assisi manuscripts to be in Brooklyn exhibit

Yes, the lover of all God's creation, St. Francis, dictated some of these poems and documents, recently conserved, which will visit the US for an exhibit. Really cool. There are illuminated manuscripts and one is written in St. Francis era Italian, considered the first important piece written in vernacular Italian instead of Latin. It took 6 men 5 months to restore the documents. Of prime interest is the "Among the artifacts, the highlight is Manuscript 338, a miscellaneous collection of medieval texts inscribed by at least nine different amanuenses. It contains “Canticle of the Sun,” a praise and thank you to the Lord for such creations as “Brother Fire” and “Sister Water.”"  While St. Francis did not write it, he definitely dictated it. It is his poem.  Read more about  the documents, the conservation of the documents, and the exhibit here.

Tor hit really hard!

International effort shuts down  400 Tor dark sites, netting drugs and money from criminals.`The US and 16 other countries were involved. 17 were arrested including the founder of Silk Road 2.0, one of the most notorious sites for illegal drug selling/buying. This not only represents a major hit, but a major tech break though for law enforcement in being able to access info on the sites. It is estimated that there are 3 million Tor users, including criminals, terrorists, law enforcement, journalists, and people trying to communicate in totalitarian countries. The layers of encryption, rerouting, and special software, help hide your id and location. Interestingly, it was designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory and is partially funded by the US State Dept. You'd think they'd find a way to keep criminals out, like requiring official passwords or codes or thumbprints or something.  Read more about it here

famous early photo

Here's the early Louis Daguerre image that is considered the earliest surviving photo with 2 people in it. Actually there could be more, but we can't see them because they were moving and you had to hold still for a couple minutes for the image to develop. This man having his boots cleaned, and the cleaner, are holding fairly still,so their images are recorded. Moving people, horses and carts are not, which is why the road and sidewalks are so bare. Enjoy. Photo history 101.

"a piece of rock archaeology"

Bob Dylan recorded  a lot of music in 1967. The original master tapes are in "terrible" shape, some are lost. Those that remain probably wouldn't have lasted a few more years. They were kept in Garth Hudson's locker, who was one of Dylan's band members who operated the tape machine during these sessions. They were not necessarily recording sessions, some just recorded whatever they played for fun or inspiration or ideas they were developing. The tapes are considered a "a piece of rock archaeology" by rock historian Clinton Heylin (what a great name).  Read more about it here  The article doesn't say who owns them now or who is doing the re-recording or where the tapes will go afterwards.

government requests for FB personal data of users up 24%

Yes, the government has decided social media is a great way to get your personal info for its uses. FB protests. FB reports a 24% increase (almost 35,000) of requests from governments for personal data on user compared to the  prior 6 months. This may include photos, private messages, and other info.  FB is fighting and appealing.  Interesting-Google reports a 15% increase in government requests for users' personal info Jan.-June 2014 compared to the prior and a 150% increase in the last five years. I I hope you all are keeping it clean and legal on your FB or Google posts. Read more about it here

Processing archivist job posting

FB makes Tor access easier

Facebook has just made it easier for users to connect to Tor, which allows users to access websites, publish sites, and communicate, without being tracked.  You could do it before with difficulty. Real-name credentials and a log-in will still be required, so it will still not be completely anonymous. The crucial change here is that all communication will be in Tor, not in the open internet, linking a user to Tor use. Will this change be popular with the rulers of certain nations and international law enforcement? Probably not. Might it be popular with those advocating change in controlled nations or criminals? Yes. FB's goal is to protect users from others spying on their communications.This could be police or government officials. I wonder, really, where is this going? Bravo if North Koreans can use Tor, but criminals will as well.  You know the NSA is going to be ticked about it. FB also wants to "be more transparent over government requests it receives"  meaning it wa…

choosing to intentionally let a langugage die and why

This is an interesting BBCNews article about a tribe, the Maidu in N. California, that has a few senior speakers remaining. They see knowledge of their language as a special gift. They see non-tribal members trying to learn it and fear it will be use for the wrong purpose or against them. They believe that to share knowledge is a special honor with obligations.  They are now choosing to let their language die out. This is an interesting view. Many tribes are seeking to revitalize themselves culturally by learning the language. This tribe is not. Read more about it here