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.

What’s for dinner? Answers through the ages from the NYPL

Lager Beer Saloon Menu, 1900
Kosher Victorian Restaurant menu, 1900 from NYPL menu collection: http://menus.nypl.org/menus/15689

We’ve all heard that avocado toast is the centerpiece of the millennial brunch, but have you ever wondered what your (great-)grandparents might have ordered when they were your age? Or maybe seeing the en vogue cocktails served at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park in years gone by might pique your interest? If you’re a history major or buff, perhaps you’d be keen to know how rationing during the war years affected restaurants? The NYPL’s Menu Collection (one of their many digital projects) can answer all those questions, plus raise a few more (mock turtle soup, anyone?). Continue reading

One Librarian, One Reference

Wikipedian Lane Rasberry presents some background on Wikipedia

On June 7th, 2017, Touro College librarians gathered at the Midtown campus for a Wikipedia editing event facilitated by Lane Rasberry, Wikipedian-in-Residence at Consumer Reports. Lane has visited the Touro Campus several times before for student events, but this was the first time that our librarians would be loosed on Wikipedia’s entries. If you thought Wikipedia and librarians (always carrying on about scholarly sources this and databases that) don’t mix, you’d be surprised! The model Wikipedia article is based on authoritative, often scholarly, information sources, and each fact included in an entry should be supported with an appropriate citation. In fact, the criteria for becoming a “Featured Article” on Wikipedia sound a lot like a good literature review: well-written, comprehensive, well-researched, and neutral.

Read on to hear about Touro librarians’ experiences editing Wikipedia in their own words: Continue reading

The Digitization of Primary Sources

Digitization of a Dunhuang manuscript in the IDP UK studio (CC Image by the International Dunhuang Project)
Digitization of a Dunhuang manuscript in the IDP UK studio (CC Image by the International Dunhuang Project)

The humanities have been particularly affected in a positive way by the digital revolution. Unique and previously unpublished primary archival manuscripts, letters, autobiographies, and other source materials are being digitized at an accelerating rate, increasing access and allowing students as well as scholars a unique opportunity to make original contributions. With online and often open access to newly digitized materials, people have the chance to look directly at primary materials rather than relying on secondary sources, and make novel observations and analyses, contributing to the scholarly discourse.  Continue reading