Saturday, April 27, 2013

Primary Resources: Coe Archive's Collections

LeRoy Weld Diary pageFounder's Papers (1851-1881), LeRoy Weld Diaries (1894-1955), Western College Collection (1857-1906) , and the Paul Engle Papers (1927-1991) all have two things in common.  They are collections housed in the George T. Henry College Archives , and they are featured on the archive's Primary Resources Pinterest page.  A sampling of what the archives hold, each of these collections has an on-line finding aid that can be accessed anywhere, and  for anyone near Coe College (or looking for a destination for a road trip) primary resources that can be viewed, held and scrutinized outside of the digital world.

Check out more of the archives collections in the left hand column on its Collections page.

~Sara Pitcher, Archives Assistant

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The cool, the pretty, and the snarky in the Shirer Collection

I have been working in the George T. Henry Archives in the basement of Stewart Memorial Library for most of this spring semester, wading through and re-organizing just one box of William Shirer correspondence from the 1960s (hey, it has 19 folders!). And let me tell you, that box was a treasure trove of cool letters, pretty handwriting, and plenty of snarky things.

William Shirer is a notable Coe alum, well-known among the history folk for his monumental work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, published in late 1960. He wrote mountains of letters and received a ridiculous amount of fan mail praising him and his book, all of which I think I’ve touched at least half a dozen times. So I’d like to share with you some of the more memorable pieces of correspondence in the 1960s box, and maybe you’ll come down and wade through the collection yourself one day to see what snark and praise you can find.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="650"]Image Here are two letters from the collection written to Shirer. So many of the handwritten letters in the collection are just gorgeous to look at, it doesn't really even matter what they say![/caption][caption id="" align="alignnone" width="650"]Image Just one example of Shirer's snark. Can't everyone tell the different between Swedish and Norwegian?![/caption]


[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="650"]Image One of my absolute favorites, in which Shirer compares 1960s NYC mail delivery to 1930s Afghanistan... unfavorably. Plus, "Whiz-bang society"? You can't beat that.[/caption][caption id="" align="alignnone" width="650"]Image One of the coolest letterheads. How cool would it be to have letters that say, "from the Inner Sanctum of Stewart Memorial Library, Coe College"?[/caption]

These are just four examples of the pretty letters, snarky letters, and cool letterheads that can be found throughout the Shirer collection and the George T. Henry archives as a whole. Come down, check it out, and maybe even find something to research in the meantime! ~Kristine

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Super Study Days

IMG_0371Whenever my friends and I have a big project to work on, we'll commandeer a study room all day for Super Study Days. It helps us focus to be in the library and away from any noise or other distractions. We get a lot accomplished since we have such easy access to books, computers, and (thank goodness) the printer. The library sometimes also provides a nice curfew; since they kick us out at 1 AM, we know it's time to go to sleep. ~Angela

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Primary Resources: Electronic Literature Organization

Electronic Literature Organization LogoThe ELO strives "to facilitate and promote the writing, publishing, and reading of literature in electronic media."  It is not a traditional primary resource, but in the 21st century where primary resources are no longer limited to hand written letters, paper documents, and physical objects the "Electronic Literature Organization" is one attempt to capture the intellectual output occurring in the ephemeral digital landscape.
"Electronic literature is born-digital literary art that exploits, as its muse and medium, the transmedia possibilities of the digital. It is, according to the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO), “work with an important literary aspect that takes advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.”"

Check out their directory of electronic literature containing hypertext, flash, and interactive elements, for a peek at one of trails literature is blazing in the 21st century.

This is one of the resources pinned to the archive’s “Primary Resources” Pinterest board.

~Sara Pitcher, Archives Assistant

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Digital Public Library of America Opens Today!

The Digital Public Library of America,is an attempt to make the America’s entire literary heritage universally accessible, has opened its doors today. It's an ambitious undertaking that may only get better and better.

Here's the link: 

You'll find the beginnings of a very fascinating digital collection from all over the US.

If you click on the "map" you can find things digital items in Iowa. You do have to zoom

in to find them, though. Check out your own home state or town to see if there's anything


Thursday, April 18, 2013

A copy of a 1772 Fortepiano comes to Fisher Library

Currently on view in Fisher Music Library is a copy of a 1772 AMERICUS BACKERS FORTEPIANO. The original Backers nr. 29 is the oldest extant English forte-piano and is housed in the Russell Collection at the University of Edinburgh. This 1982 copy is, as I've read, one of 2 made  by Peter Redstone in Claremont, Virginia. The instrument has languished for several years in a workshop in Pennsylvania as is was little used. Our music librarian was able to acquire it around Spring break as his personal instrument and project.

 Americus Backers (d. 1778), might be described as the father of the English grand pianoforte style, or as commonly called "forte-piano". The action was based on a published sketch of the original Cristofori fortepiano, which was the first ever fortepiano to be built around 1698. Backers improved upon it in areas of power, expression and reliability. The improved action was put in the a harpsichord like case. It is lightly strung and styled like popular harpsichords of the day. Unlike the harsichord the strings are struck and allow for various shades of dynamics. The harpsichord does not respond to changes in force. The sound level is fixed by the voicing of the plectra and the resonance of the soundboard.

Backers added two pedals –the una corda (shift) and the damper lift – which he built into the  trestle stand. These were the first instances of pedals on a fortepiano. The Viennese fortepianos had knee lift levers. These same 2 types of pedals are found on modern pianos. Backers Fortepiano forever changed the direction of Engish keyboard music, eclipsing the harpsichord. Backers’ design eventually evolved by others over the ensuing decades to become our modern piano. Unfortunately he died in 1778 and instruments continued to be sold as his even after his death. Other English makers used his design but claimed it as their own. There were no patents. Even as late as the early 1800s the basic case design remained the same though Backers was long departed. The English action a beefed up variant based on Backers original continued to be use up until the 1900s. It is amazing how modern the action is, though much more delicate.

This Redstone reproduction is currently under rehabilitation, but is playable.

You are welcome to come by Fisher Music Library (Marquis 102) and take a look or strum it lightly. The action and tone are delicate unlike a modern pianos. There are only 2 strings per note and the hammers are very thin and tipped with leather giving it a more rounded guitar or harp-like tone. The damper system is very light, so there's always some  background wash of sound. Baroque through early Classical period composers are the best pieces to try out.

The Backers fortepiano will be on view through the end of the term and part of next term. It is hoped that it can be used in a concert this fall or the coming spring if rehabilitation is successful.

As you can see, it is quite handsome.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Library work study students


Photo opportunity for the Stewart Memorial Library work study students in their "This is how we roll" t-shirts.


Ever wonder if there was more to being a man than having six-pack abs? The book, "The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man" will teach you how to handle nearly any situation life may throw at you. From learning how to live a virtuous life like Ben Franklin to getting fitted for a suit, this book has it all. As the introduction of the book states, "Our goal with this book is to hopefully encourage a new generation of men to pick up where their grandfathers left off in the history and legacy of manliness." You can read this cover to cover or pick out sections to read as this book is both fun to read and packed full of useful information. Stop reading ridiculous memes on the internet and do yourself a favor by reading this book.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Primary Resources: Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive Logo"Vision:...Enable immediate connections to powerful, audio and video-taped oral histories of survivors who experienced the Holocaust"

Since 1981, Dr. Sidney Bolkosky, Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, has interviewed Holocaust survivors. The University's Mardigian Library has been the repository of these interviews many of which are available on-line though their "Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive".

Beyond these oral histories, the site provides access to finding aids to the University of Michigan-Dearborn's holocaust collections, and links to other holocaust resources on-line.

This is one of the resources pinned to the archive’s “Primary Resources” Pinterest board.

~Sara Pitcher, Archives Assistant

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

View from the Circ Desk

As a student at Coe there is a good chance thar you visit the library regularly, but do you really know what it has to offer you? I was recently given the privelege of working at the circulation desk, which gave me the opportunity to learn more about the library. I have learned that the people that work here are very willing to help you with anything that you may have a question on, but you have to be the one to take initiative. Right now I personally take full advantage of the AV department in using movies for class but also for pleasure. My most recent watch was A Beautiful Mind, which was for class but also a movie that I wanted to see but have never gotten the chance. I also am in the process of writing a research paper over Paris, and will most likely be asking the people who work at the reference desk to assist me in finding useful information over the topic. Also the library gives you many online options to use, one that I frequently use for my major is psYchARTICLES, which gives me a variety of scholarly articles to use for papers and projects. Overall we have many resources that you should take advantages of to help with your success in college.~Rachel

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Primary Resources:

EuropeanaWhere can you find Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, the works of Charles Darwin, and the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?  Why in Europe, of course!  Don't have the time or resources to jump on a plane to see Europe's culture?  Check out, an internet portal that acts as an interface to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitized throughout Europe.  Europeana has over 26 millions objects from more than 2,200 institutions scattered among 34 countries, and its still growing.  For just a taste of what you can find, the featured collections this week are: "Royal Book Collections", "Europeana Fasion: Weird and wonderful shoes form the worlds biggest collection", "The Museum of Architecture, Berlin" and "Exhibition: European Sport Heritage".

Prefer getting your history in bit sized portions?  Europeana is on Pinterest, twitter, and facebook.  You can also check out their blog.

This is one of the resources pinned to the archive’s “Primary Resources” Pinterest board.

~Sara Pitcher, Archives Assistant