On July 10, 2011, the stars were aligned. On that day, according to Jim Warwick, assistant US attorney for the Department of Justice, a sharp-eyed employee of the Maryland Historical Society sensed that two researchers, later revealed to be Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff, were acting strangely. Following this hunch, the employee crawled into the rafters and observed as Savedoff stuffed documents into his jacket while Landau distracted another employee. A few phone calls later, with the assistance of the FBI and the National Archives Office of the Inspector General (NARA OIG), Savedoff and Landau were in custody.
Every February, ProQuest, the online subscription service for journals, archives, and other historical delicacies unlocks its African American digital archives for Black History Month. This year is no exception, with open access in the month of February for the following ProQuest products: Historical Newspapers™ – Black Newspapers, Black Studies Center (primary and secondary resources), as well as its Civil War Era (newspapers and pamphlets) and African American Heritage (family-related records) databases. It would be hard to overstate the incredible range and depth of material available and it’s well worth taking some time to dive into what’s available even if this isn’t your main area of research, before it gets locked down again at the end of the month.
For those who enjoy echoes of the present in the past, a brief tour through Frederick Jackson Turner’s papers at the Huntington Library a few weeks ago turned up a few treasures.
Perhaps you are troubled by the dominance of sports teams on your campus (in terms of both attention and resources)? In 1910, Joseph Schafer from the University of Oregon complained about “the excessive deference by our authorities to the athletics and other internals of college life which are directed by persons lacking in ideals, whose sole aim is success and applause.” Not surprisingly, perhaps, he spent the next decade seeking employment elsewhere, and ultimately went on serve as head of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Last week, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced that he had received instructions from the governor’s office to reduce his department’s budget, declaring in a statement:
To meet the required cuts, it is with great remorse that I have to announce, effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia Archives located in Morrow, GA will be closed to the public. The decision to reduce public access to the historical records of this state was not arrived at without great consternation. To my knowledge, Georgia will be the only state in the country that will not have a central location in which the public can visit to research and review the historical records of their government and state.
AHA president William Cronon’s recent article in the March 2012 issue of Perspectives on History explained how to avoid professional boredom by widening the audience for history and widening the tent under which professional historians gather. With this article and argument in mind, we look to some important discussions online now around the American Association of Museum’s TrendsWatch 2012 (PDF) and the SXSWi (South by Southwest Interactive) conference. Historians should consider how museum professionals and archivists are projecting themselves into the future.
The process for getting a research permit for Indonesia is lengthy, laborious, and opaque, but it seems to depend heavily on a clear statement by the researcher of exactly what he or she will study once in country. This produces a bit of a catch-22: historians cannot know what exactly they will study until they have been allowed in to survey archive holdings, but they cannot get a visa to survey archive holdings until they know exactly what they will study.
Editor’s Note: See also our other recent post from the Archives Wiki, featuring the UK Web Archive.
Last summer I had the good fortune to return to the Archivio Storico del Ministero degli Affari Esteri (Historical Archive of the Italian Foreign Ministry) in Rome. The reading room is open only five hours a day—not such a bad thing, given the city’s other charms. After my first visit in 2008, I posted a description of the archives on Archives Wiki, in which I mentioned an attractive strip of restaurants nearby, at the top of Ponte Milvio.
Maybe you are researching recent British history, and are interested in finding out how London’s mayoral election 2008 was discussed in local blogs? Or you are studying the celebrations of Darwin’s 200th birthday in 2009? Then the UK Web Archive may be able to help you. The UK Web Archive, which is based in the British Library, is one of the oldest, most ambitious national initiatives to archive a small selection of the millions of web sites currently in the U.K.