New Resource Alert! ProQuest’s Free Collection of African American History Documents.

image: screenshot, Black Freedom Struggle in the United States, May 2021. http://blackfreedom.proquest.com

ProQuest is familiar to the Touro community as a provider of scholarly literature, with their popular database ProQuest One Academic. They have recently released a collection of primary source documents on the history of African Americans’ struggle for freedom, Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: Challenges and Triumphs in the Pursuit of Equality.

This collection was released as a free resource on the web, so you can access it any time, even when you’re not signed in to the TouroOne system. It is presented as an accessible, easy-to-navigate website, separate from ProQuest’s research databases.

image: screenshot, Featured Subjects, Black Freedom Struggle in the United States, May 2021. http://blackfreedom.proquest.com

Primary sources are first-hand accounts from people directly connected to a subject, event, time or place. They are invaluable to the study of history, especially when they center the voices and perspectives of those largely kept out of the historical narrative.

See also: Librarian Emily Johnson’s libguide on Primary Sources.

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States features speeches, interviews, letters, newspaper stories, government documents from the FBI and Congress, laws and court records from the era of slavery and abolitionism all the way to contemporary times, with Black Lives Matter, the high-profile killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others, and the racial unrest of 2020.

The website contains approximately 1,600 documents, organized into these six eras of history:

  1. Slavery and the Abolitionist Movement (1790-1860)
  2. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era (1861-1877)
  3. Jim Crow Era from 1878 to the Great Depression (1878-1932)
  4. The New Deal and World War II (1933-1945)
  5. The Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1946-1975)
  6. The Contemporary Era (1976-2000s)

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian, Touro College Libraries.

New Books at Lander College for Women Library

photo by the author

The library at Touro’s Lander College for Women recently added a great deal of interesting new books.  In this post, I introduce some of the titles and take us through the work and considerations that go into ordering books for a library’s collection. 

Some factors we consider when ordering books include:  (1) Mission Statement, (2) Collection Development policy, (3) managing collegiate relations with Professors who can recommend purchases, (4) each branch curriculum focus, (5) guidelines noted in the Touro College Library staff Wiki on how to order and weed books to make room for new acquisitions (6) cultivating academic interests in editing books, researching & writing books, and book reviewing which helps the acquisition process and (7) fielding reference questions at Lander College for Women, making one familiar with course syllabi and curriculum.  

Academic subject interests cultivated by librarians   

Thirteen of these new titles added to the collection are published by Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, five of which, including Huss’ The Zohar Reception and Impact, I reviewed for various journals. Eight of the new Jewish Studies books are published by Brill Press, six of which I reviewed. 

Thus our librarian’s own scholarship and book reviewing are often assets in keeping a pulse on academic disciplines. For instance, a tincture of my published, peer-reviewed work can be found at: Touro Scholar and Facpubs.  See also AJL Proceedings, referenced in RAMBI, along with popular reviewing sources like Choice, and Jewish Book World.

Building up areas related to Womens’ history  

We strive to beef up our collection in works relating to Women in all academic disciplines. My book reviewing and scholarship assists in this process; I reviewed the following for  the journal Women in Judaism:  The Rabbi’s Daughter and the Midwife. , Chaya T. Halberstam’s Law and Truth in Biblical and Rabbinic Literature. ,  Rav Hisda’s Daughter, Book 1: Apprentice: a Novel of Love, the Talmud, and Sorcery. , Kempner, Aviva. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg ; Merin, Tamar. The Rise of Israeli Women’s Fiction;  Fried, Mindy. Caring for Red: A Daughter’s Memoir; Haredim-Religion.com. Israel . In the peer reviewed music journal  Notes: Quarterly of the Music Library Association, I reviewed a work on the musician Sara Levy. Featured in the new books photo is Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan: The Founder of the Bais Yaakov Movement in America and  The Martyrdom of a Moroccan Jewish Saint.

We try especially to purchase books in the area of women’s history to bring from the margins to center stage the often discriminated place of women in history as noted in a podcast discussing my recent publication, Gluskin Family History, which was reviewed by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz of Ohr Sameach Yeshivah of Jerusalem on the Jewish Book World blog.     

Thus a host of factors noted in the above desiderata, go into the process of ordering books, thereby expanding our collection for current and future readers.

-post contributed by David Levy, Chief Librarian, Touro Lander College for Women Library.

Veterans Remembered

On Memorial Day, we take time to remember men and women who went off to war, and those who gave their lives.  Such a sober thought, thinking of families that had a terrible loss.  Although we have turned Memorial Day weekend into the kickoff of the summer, it is also still marked with many parades and the hanging of wreaths at memorial sites to honor the fallen. Tradition compels the marking of graves in cemeteries with a USA flag even during “this 2020 pause.”

We have many markers in our society, across United States, so we can remember history every day. Sometimes these markers and monuments are just there and become part of the background.

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In my family history research, I came across a newspaper article from 1923. This article came up because family members’ names were in the listing of name in the article. I downloaded the article thinking, “what a nice find.”  At another time when I went back to look at the details of the article, I found a surprise.  The article for sure had the listing of names, but they were the names that were going to go on a bronze tablet in a high school.  I thought how nice that was, to have happened in 1923. I didn’t give it another thought.

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But research can be so interesting. On another day I was looking at the article and started to wonder if the high school was still there, and even if it was, if the name might have changed. No one today would know this area in Queens by the name Newton.  What a surprise I found! Not only is the high school still standing with the same name, but also it is an active high school.  I called the school and asked if the bronze plate was still there. The very nice lady was in an office somewhere in the building but she felt it was still there. She yelled over her shoulder to someone else to make sure and then decided to look herself. When she came back she said, “Oh yes it is still there. We wouldn’t take that down.” I explained how I didn’t live anywhere near Queens and could I visit? Any time the school was open I could go and see it, according to her. I really wanted to call back and ask for a picture because I wasn’t going to be satisfied unless I went a saw it myself.

Plenty of time passed before I was able to stop by on a school day to see the tablet. But I did stop by and get pictures. (If you are interested in reading the history of the over 100 year old high school, click here )

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As you can see from the picture above, there are many names on this tablet. According to the article, 27 alumni students gave their lives during World War 1.  My husband is related to three men who were brothers here. Two returned from the War and one did not.

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When we remember the fallen veteran, their memory can live past their time for generations to come.

 

This post was contributed by Joan Wagner, Chief Librarian at the School of Health Sciences

Newspaper articles referred to in this post can be found by clicking here.

Researching Jewish Genealogy

This summer David B. Levy, Chief Librarian LCW, published a 10 volume set which was featured at the UMCP alumni spotlight. Volume 7 of this set is in the area of Jewish genealogical research. In part, Volume 7 brings to centerstage a recuperation of Jewish Women’s Eastern European history which was the subject of a radio interview hosted by Heidi Rabininowitz at the Tree of Life podcast interview aired on April 27th and titled, “Strategies and Methods for Researching Jewish Genealogy.” David was scheduled to give a lecture on Volume 7 at Stern College on March 24th, which was postponed due to the pandemic, so The Tree of Life offered a special series on authors and researchers whose speaking gigs were disrupted. The interview testifies to a number of remarkable Jewish women who exemplified great sacrifice, courage, resilience, devotion in transmitting Jewish traditions, and beacons of inspiration to all Jews and all peoples for their remarkable accomplishments in the spiritual, ethical, intellectual, and cultural realms.  Volume 7 describes some of the methods and strategies of uncovering the histories of members of David’s family in Eastern Europe, back about 18 generations, and place this account in its historical context. As well as revealing an elite rabbinic ancestry, the study as noted briefly in the interview brings to life matriarchal histories.

Volume 7 represents about 30 years of research by David, and some appeared in previous publications, such as an AJL Proceedings study on research scholar librarians featuring David’s relative Dr. Vilsker, Judaica librarian at the Saltykov library in St. Petersberg. The seven attachments of handouts on this AJL link document the reception history of Vilsker’s discoveries, including bringing to light unknown poems of Rabbi Yehudah HaLevy, in the Israeli scholarly press (Keriyat Sefer) and popular newspapers, discoveries that literally rocked all economic and social facets of Israeli culture and society. It is peppered with primary sources including interviews with family in Israel, unique photos, genealogical trees, letters (iggerot), Hespadim (eulogies), Haskamot (rabbinic endorsement of Hebrew texts published by rabbinic scholars in the family), pinkasim (synagogue records), maps, the historical Jewish press, current Israeli newspapers, technos prayers (original prayers in Yiddish), kvitlekh (prayers inserted in the Western wall), memoirs, diaries, public records, oral histories, original poems by family members, statistical and demographic studies, blog postings, Facebook and Twitter posts. Volume 7 draws on research in languages including Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, French, etc.

Touro Libraries research guides include a Jewish Archival Resources site that provides many useful links, helpful for genealogical research. The AJL NYMA powerpoint presented by librarian Amanda Siegel of NYPL is shared on google drive, and is also a great resource.

Genealogical resources from NYPL

NYPL offers an array of rich resources for genealogical research. Anyone who “lives, works, attends school or pays property taxes in New York State” can get a free library card, and during the pandemic can do so completely online (click here for details).

For a light introduction and discussion of genealogy from home, listen to this radio interview.

Articles and Databases in Genealogy (most of these are available from home with a Library card)

Jewish Genealogy: A Quick Online Guide (same for these; most are free websites)

Holocaust Research, Education, and Remembrance Online: Genealogy

Featured image source: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-a959-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

This article was contributed by David B. Levy, Chief Librarian at the Lander College for Women