For Hemingway’s Birthday, A Gift to the World

Hemingway Scrapbooks

JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY / AP (The birth certificate and family photograph of Ernest Hemingway from a scrapbook created by his mother, Grace Hall Hemingway.)

Long before “scrapbooking” was a verb, mothers were collecting memories about their children and their achievements in volumes for posterity.  Fortunately for both fans and scholars of Ernest Hemingway, his mother, Grace, was one of these women who kept meticulous journals of her now-famous (and infamous) son.

This week, in honor of what would have been the iconic American author’s 114th birthday, July 21, 1899, the  John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston has made available to the public the digitized journals.   There are a total of five volumes and all can now be viewed online here.

For scholars, this is particularly exciting news as the majority of the collection has never been available and only a few fortunate researchers have seen it at all. Prior to their digitization, the leather books were kept in a dark vault to prevent them from crumbling and otherwise becoming damaged.

Read the rest of this entry »


Happy Birthday to the National Archives

national-archives-bldg-1934-l

The National Archives houses our nation’s most important records  including “[a]ll archives or records” of the U.S. Government, legislative, executive, or judicial” documents as well as “motion-picture films and sound recordings illustrative of historical activities of the United States.”

If you had to guess how old such an important administration would be, what would you say? 200 years? More?

Nope.  On June 19th of this year, the institution turned just seventy-nine years old.

Proving that government has long moved at the speed of a handicapped slug, it took until the early twentieth century for legislators to think, “Hmmmm…. perhaps we need an official location for our treasured, important documents,” and establish the National Archives.

A historian named J. Franklin Jameson took up the cause of promoting such a facility in 1908. Eighteen years later, in 1926, he finally raised enough money to fund construction of the National Archives.  And then it took another eight years for legislation to come to Capitol Hill (by which time the building was already under construction). President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone in 1933, just a couple weeks before  Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office.

And then things stalled again.

FDR was perhaps understandably distracted by the enormous problems of the Great Depression. He waited another three months to enact legislation naming an archivist. The job finally went to a professor of history from North Carolina, R.D.W. Connor, at a salary of $10,000 per year.

What sort of historically important documents are housed at the National Archives?

Just to name a few. You can few the entire list and see image of the documents at the National Archives Home Page here.

(Source)


Like Free Stuff? Like Science? Here You Go!

free_sci_books

One of the most exciting things to happen to knowledge is the increasing amount of free information, available to anyone, for any reason.  A recent entry into this new market comes from PhysicsDatabase.com.

There are over 150 titles available for free download, covering a range of science-related topics for students, professionals, and amateurs as well.  Here are just three of those selections. Find the entire list here! 

Read the rest of this entry »


Four Bizarre Theories About Shakespeare

facespeareHappy belated birthday, Shakes!  Just a day late. Actually, the exact date of his birth has long been disputed.  Generally, April 23, 1564, which is also St. George’s Day, is accepted as the date of the Bard’s birth, but because his baptismal records reflect April 26th as the date, no one is completely sure. So hey, maybe I’m not a day late but two days early!  (You can read more about the conflicting birth information here.)

As with any celebrity, from Lindsay Lohan to our beloved Bard (let the record show that this is the only time you will ever see these two names so closely linked), all kinds of bizarre theories abound.  Here are a few of my favorites. Feel free to perform your own facepalms.

 jewish_shks

Number I: Shakespeare Was a Jewish Woman

In this theory, John Hudson argues that Shakespeare was, you guessed it, a Jewish woman. The woman Hudson has in mind is Amelia Bassano Lanier, who was the first woman to publish a book of poetry in England.  The theory rests largely on the circumstances of Bassano’s life, which Hudson contends match, much better than William Shakespeare’s did, the content of “Shakespeare’s” work. But Hudson has also identified technical similarities between the language used in Bassano’s known poetry and that used in “Shakespeare’s” verse. And he has located clues in the text – recently noted Jewish allegories and the statistically significant appearance of Amelia Bassano Lanier’s various names in the plays – that he says point to her as the only convincing candidate for the author of Shakespeare’s work. (Source)

Read the rest of this entry »


That’s an Egrig… Egregou… Egregious Error: Most Commonly Misspelled and Looked-up Words

alwayslookup

When I worked in a bookstore in my early twenties (my mother said it was the equivalent of putting an alcoholic behind a bar), this book was one we stocked.  I worked in the tiny store inside an elite hotel alone and Nurnberg’s book was one I frequently thumbed through in between waiting on doctor’s wives looking for the latest bodice-ripper (true story).

No matter how well-educated one is, there are always a few words that, for some reason, just don’t stick.

You are not alone.  According to the website Grammar.net, the following are the fifteen most frequently looked up words (at least on their site):

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 777 other followers