To start off this week, we revisit two topics we’ve previously addressed on the blog: Google Books and the Wilderness Battlefield’s fight with Wal-mart. Then, read the latest National Humanities Alliance newsletter, join a discussion at H-Disability, and hear a conversation between James McPherson and Craig Symonds. We bring you three posts focused on photos or video: a new site on Florence Kahn, a collection of dissection photographs, and images of from Japan in the 1860s to the 1930s. Finally, we conclude with some May-themed posts: “MayDay,” a garden-themed roundup, and a history of Mother’s Day.
The digital archive called “Paper of Record”—a significant repository of old newspapers from around the world—disappeared in late January, leaving many historians without a critical tool for their research.
“The site was simply essential for historians working on the history of Mexico,” according to Richard Salvucci, an economic historian at Trinity University. “We finally had a systematic way of getting at those sources, and now suddenly they are gone.” According to Salvucci, the site provided both scanned copies of historical papers from Mexico and a search engine that allowed historians to keyword search their contents.
In honor of the annual meeting, still a few months away, we start this What We’re Reading off with a look at Google’s new transit map project and an article from the New York Times on how New Yorkers can still help tourists find their way. Then, learn what it takes to start a museum, check out the history of African Americans in Congress, discover how the Internet turns historical errors into facts, read about conservatives funding history programs, plan a trip to Union Station to celebrate its centennial, and hear about a new lawsuit against Zotero.
Yesterday the Official Google Blog announced the launch of Google’s newspaper digitization project, a new initiative meant to digitize millions of newspapers and make them available online. It sounds similar to the Google Books project, in scope and ambition, which along with excitement and praise, has also drawn its fair share of criticisms (for instance, see Robert B. Townsend’s concerns in “Google Books: What’s Not to Like?”). Will some of the issues of Google Books, like poor scan quality and faulty metadata, be attended to in this new project?
Last week’s “What We’re Reading” included numerous articles on the Gutenberg-e project going open access. This week, we begin with one more perspective on the issue, from Jim Jordan at Columbia University Press. Next, we include articles on two persistent topics covered by AHA Today: Google Books and Wikipedia. Then read about a new newsletter from the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), an article on historians and the public, an interesting George W. Bush Library design project, and finally, reports of a new collection at the National Gallery of Art.
Last week’s “What We’re Reading” noted the presence of the Library of Congress’s holdings on Flickr. This week, the ArchivesNext blog shows what else can be found at the photo sharing site, and in another post announces their first annual “Archives on the Web awards.” Read on to find articles on plagiarism, overproducing PhDs, and professional issues (including travel woes and peer review). Finally, read one historian’s cautionary tale of Google search results.
Following last week’s news of the Library of Congress on Flickr, the ArchivesNext blog reports a new Flickr group for “archives, special collections, and libraries posting images of objects from their collections.” So far the initial 12 members of the group (including, to name a few, the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Iowa State University Special Collections, and the Independence Seaport Museum) have uploaded over 500 photos.
- It’s awards season, and ArchivesNext is jumping on the bandwagon!
Google search, love it or hate it, has become ubiquitous. And now, according to a post Monday on the Official Google blog, searching may be evolving. Google is experimenting with “alternate views for search results,” including timeline, map, and information views that should hopefully provide a better sense of context to the search results.
The timeline view allows users to filter search results by date, using either a timeline at the top of the page, or by typing in their own set of dates in a “set filter” box on the right side of the page.
The Google Books project promises to open up a vast amount of older literature, but a closer look at the material on the site raises real worries about how well it can fulfill that promise and what its real objectives might be.
Over the past three months I spent a fair amount of time on the site as part of a research project on the early history of the profession, and from a researcher’s point of view I have to say the results were deeply disconcerting.