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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Review: American Eras Primary Sources

American Eras Primary Sources fills a niche that encyclopedias, almanacs, books, and articles can’t. This multi-volume set “reproduces full text or excerpts of primary sources that illuminate a particular trend, event, or personality important to [the] understanding of the time period. Each volume includes about one hundred entries organized into topical chapters” (Parks, 2013). By examining one volume in the electronic version covering the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877, I will describe and evaluate the series.

The volume begins with section called “Using Primary Sources” which includes an explanation of what a primary source is and advises readers on how to approach the use of such sources to avoid faulty reasoning. Next there’s an eclectic chronology of world events, which provides an interesting perspective that a history book may not. For example, this chronology lists major natural disasters, military battles, treaties (e.g. the First Geneva Convention protecting the rights of war prisoners), fashion trends and firsts such as the first indoor ice hockey game, which was played in 1875 in Canada.

anti slave alpha bet

The heart of American Eras Primary Sources is the primary sources organized in categories such as the arts, business, government and politics, communications, law, fashion, science, medicine, social trends, and education. Each category begins with an overview and chronology to provide context. Each entry lists basic information on the creator of the primary source, introduces the item. This volume includes and describes Currier and Ives prints, recipes, patents, illustrations, poetry, photos of Grand Central Station, text from the children’s book The Anti-Slave Alphabet, sheet music, military orders and more. After each entry there is a short passage describing its significance and a list of further resources including websites with click-able links.

The end of the volume contains a general index and primary source type index. Entries may be viewed as text or PDF. Users may easily email or download entries for further examination.

sheet music

American Eras Primary Sources contains a wide variety of sources that illuminate disparate aspects of American society thereby expanding users’ understanding of the era. Given that an electronic version doesn’t take up shelf space, I would have liked more entries particularly sources from lower level Civil War officers and representatives of minorities other than women and African Americans who are included, but mainly in the conventional ways, i.e. as housewives, suffragettes or slaves. Including sources written in languages other than English with translations would make this important resource even more comprehensive. Still history buffs, students and researchers will find this book highly valuable.

Verdict: American Eras Primary Sources offers a unique perspective on history and should be a part of any public, secondary school or university library collection.

Check this out at your public library if you like history at all!

Works Cited

American Eras Primary Sources. Ed. Rebecca Parks. Vol. 2: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877. Detroit: Gale, 2013. [0]. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in history, Library and Information Science

 

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Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station

pollifax chinaI really like the idea of a woman who qualifies for a senior discount working undercover for the CIA, but Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station is a book that’s easy to put down. In fact, it took me months to read, though the prose is easy enough. The characters just didn’t grab me, nor did the plot.

Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station relates the story of CIA operative Mrs. Pollifax whom the CIA sends on a tour of China to work with another (unknown for much of the book) spy to help rescue an inmate of a Chinese labor camp. Like an Agatha Christie book, an assorted group is assembled and it’s all very gentile. Only the readers, Mrs. Pollifax and two others know that a big adventure is to come. It’s definitely a story Raymond Chandler would hate, as his essay “Simple Art of Murder” indicates. It’s got the tone of The Triple Petunia Murder Case, or Inspector Pinchbottle to the Rescue. In other words, it’s old fashioned and stodgy. The ending has surprises, but they come out of the blue and the pacing of the end is off. It’s as if the author got tired or a deadline crept up on her and she had to end immediately so she could start the next such story.

All in all, it’s not a great book, but not a bad one either.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in fiction

 

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Graphic Novel: Sign of Four

sign of 4

The Sign of Four, a graphic novel adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbrand, provides a faithful version of the Arthur Conan Doyle story. Like all the Sherlock stories I’ve read, it’s a quick read that engages from the start. The illustrations look very modern in their style. It took me awhile to get used to a Sherlock with a Jay Leno chin, but it didn’t bother me.

Unless you’re pressed for time, make sure you read the original. This is fine, but not great.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in British Lit, classic, graphic novel

 

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Word(s) of the Week

I’m taking a course in Reference services in grad school. Our first assignment focused on dictionaries. Here’s a part of what I had to find:

1. What is a ‘trustafarian’?  Evaluate the authority of the source you used to locate this definition.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘trustafarian’ as: A wealthy young (white) person with a bohemian lifestyle, typically one who adopts aspects of the appearance and culture of other ethnic groups (esp. Rastafarians) and lives in or frequents a fashionable, multicultural area. Freq. mildly derogatory. Also as adj.

I first tried the slang dictionary on UICU’s library’s website, but found no results. Since I expect OED to have almost every word and impeccable accuracy, I went there. I like that it defined this word, gave sample sentences and states that it’s somewhat derogatory, which helps a patron understand its use more completely.

“Trustafarian, n. (and adj.)”. OED Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. Web. (accessed on February 3, 2014)

2. What is samizdat literature?  Where did the term come from?  When was it first used in the English language? Where was it first used?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, samizdat literature is: The clandestine or illegal copying and distribution of literature (orig. and chiefly in the U.S.S.R.); an ‘underground press’; a text or texts produced by this. Also transf. and attrib. or as adj. Phr. in samizdat, in this form of publication.

Samizdat comes from Russian and was first used in 1967 in The London Times as shown below:

1967   Times 6 Nov. (Russia Suppl.) p. xxii/4   A vast and newly educated [Soviet] population..do not pass around the precious samizdat (unpublished) manuscripts.

Since the question asked for etymological information, I immediately went to the OED, which I learned to use as an undergraduate. It’s a favorite dictionary of mine and well known for its etymology.

“Samizdat, n.”. OED Online.</cite Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. (accessed February 1, 2014).

3. What does IMHO stand for?  Does it have multiple meanings?
According to several dictionaries IMHO stands for “in my humble opinion.” Gale Virtual Reference offers more terms:

Idiots Manage High Office
I Make Humungous Overstatements
Inane Marketing Hold-Over
In My Honest Opinion
In My Humble Opinion [Internet language] [Computer science]

Internet Media House
Inventory of Mental Health Organizations [Department of Health and Human Services] (GFGA)

I searched Credo and found Webster’s New World & Trade Computer Dictionary had a definition. Since “Webster’s” is a name that is no longer copyright protected I wasn’t sure of the source’s credibility, but I was curious about a dictionary of computer terms. Since the patron wondered about multiple meanings I wanted to insure I found all possibilities. Gale Virtual Reference, which I found through Credo and therefore trust, offered a number of meanings, which should satisfy the patron.

“IMHO.” Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary.  Ed. Kristin B. Mallegg. 44th ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. (accessed February 3, 2014.)

“IMHO.” In Webster’s New World & Trade; Computer Dictionary. Hoboken: Wiley, 2003. Web. (accessed February 3, 2014.)

4. What can you tell me about onychotillomania?

According to American Heritage Medical Dictionary, which I accessed through yourdictionary.com, it’s a noun referring to “a tendency to pick at the fingernails or toenails.” Stedman’s Medical Dictionary confirmed this definition and added that it’s derived from Greek.

Since the term sounds psychological, I consulted a medical dictionary. First I tried Yourdictionary.com because I have never used it and I want to investigate as many sources as possible during this course. While I got a short definition, I wasn’t sure of Yourdictionary.com so I accessed the ebook version of Stedman’s Medical dictionary through UICU’s library. I trust that they offer an accurate medical dictionary.

“Onychotillomania. (n.d.). American Heritage Medical Dictionary. Web. n.d.[accessed February 3rd, 2014].

“Onychotillomania.” Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 28th Ed. Stedman, Thomas Lathrop. Philadelphia : Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2003. Web. [accessed February 3rd, 2014].

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in words

 

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