Author Archives: Vernon Horn

International Tracing Service Opens Holocaust Archive to the Public

The International Tracing Service’s archive of Nazi documents, located in the town of Bad Arolsen, Germany, is now open to the general public. The archive contains more than 50 million pages in 21,000 separate collections pertaining to Holocaust victims. Three major types of records can be found in the archive: camps, transports, ghettos, and arrest records; forced and slave labor records; and displaced person records.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is hosting a searchable version of the inventory with descriptions in both English and German.

AHR Online in Transition

The October 2007 issue of the American Historical Review is now online at its new home with the University of Chicago Press. The October issue joins the June issue, but, in time the last three years of issues will also be housed at the new site (filling in the gap between the latest issue and the archival issues available through JSTOR). AHA members will have full access to the Review when they login to AHA member services. In the near future, the member site will contain both html and pdf versions of the Review.

Survey Reveals Surprising Number of Missing Items at the Library of Congress

According to a survey carried out by the Library of Congress Inspector General, about one sixth of the library’s “books, monographs and bound periodicals” are misplaced, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for, it was announced Wednesday.* Library officials believe most of the unaccounted for  items are checked out or somewhere in the reshelving process, but, given the limits of the current filing system, it is impossible to say for sure what is merely checked out, and what may actually have been stolen or destroyed.

Smithsonian TV to Debut

According to a report in the Washington Post the controversial Smithsonian Networks will begin broadcasting this Wednesday. We previously discussed this venture on AHA Today here (all our Smithsonian posts can be found here). For now, Smithsonian Networks is only available to those with a subscription to DirecTV’s "high-definition extra tier." In May 2006 then Secretary Lawrence M. Small had promised that Smithsonian TV "will come automatically with a cable package" and not require any extra subscriptions, including that of Showtime, the Smithsonian’s production partner.  However, as the Post notes, "the business model changed from cable on-demand to satellite high-definition." According to Tom Hayden, general manager for Smithsonian Networks and a Showtime executive vice president, the deal with DirectTV is "only the first" and presumably more cable outlets will follow suit.

Carlyle Letters Online

The letters of Thomas and Jane Carlyle, those quintessential letter-writing Victorians, are now available online through Duke University Press. The project began in 1999 and the editors struggled with finding the best way to create a useable and useful online version of the printed collection. Ultimately they "decided that the first twenty-nine volumes of the edition would be encoded in XML (eXtensible Markup Language), conformant with Textual Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines." Seven years later after much experimentation with different types of technology, they were able to create documents in which "every reference to another letter or text in the eCarlyle would be rendered as a hyperlink, which would create a vast web of interconnectivity within the resource." This format has also allowed them to create a very powerful search engine that, for example, allows users to specify recipients or limit results to a certain date range.

Tracked in America

Tracked in is a new web site that provides a short history of U.S. government surveillance in America from the colonial era to the present. It is divided into seven chapters: Pre-World War I, World War I, Pearl Harbor, McCarthy Era, Civil Rights, Sanctuary (for Latin Americans in the 1980s), and After 9/11. Each chapter includes a timeline, a short essay that provides a contextual framework for the period, and numerous links to various sources from government archives, legal documents, original photographs, and other documentary web sites.  A number of historians provide audio commentary, most notably Gary Okihiro, Ellen Schrecker, Adam Green, Athan Theoharis, Christopher H.

Smithsonian Fires Gary Beer

In a bit of “here we go again”, the Smithsonian has fired Gary M. Beer, the CEO of Smithsonian Ventures after an inspector general’s report reported that he had made thousands of dollars of unsubstantiated credit card expenditures. Beer has been ordered to repay $30,000 and was told that the Smithsonian would classify some $65,000 in expenses as “reportable income.” Acting secretary Cristián Samper appointed Tom Ott, president of Smithsonian Publishing, to serve as acting chief executive of Smithsonian Business Ventures effective immediately.

History on the Digital Margins

Manan Ahmed is an organizer of the roundtable session Contested Pasts and Presents: History and Memory in the Local at the 2008 AHA Annual Meeting. He has put the session abstract and the individual presenter abstracts of his session online at the “Memory Matters” blog. Using the newly released CommentPress 1.0, a free and open source software developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book, a visitor to the site can comment on any individual paragraph of the presenter abstracts.