MCL Blogs

The default blog for all Library Blog Posts.

Can you imagine saying goodbye to almost everyone you know, leaving behind most of your possessions, and traveling 2,000 miles across the country to live in a place you'd never seen? Almost 500,000 people did just this, packing mostly supplies they would need for the journey into covered wagons, and traveling along the Oregon Trail.

The trail started in Missouri, and then went through what is now Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. History Globe shows an 1843 map of the trail, featuring "Unorganized Territory" (land with no government) and "Oregon Country" (what is now Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and part of Montana and Wyoming). The map will make more sense when you click on the  "modern map" link! The Trail Tour section of the website provides information and images about various stopping points along the trail.

History comes alive when we learn about events through people and their stories. The OrgeonTerritory and its Pioneers is a gold mine for learning about these stories and what life was like on the trail. The website itself is a pioneer on the Internet, started in 1989. It looks much different than websites that you are used to browsing, but don't let that that keep you from exploring. It is packed with great information. Take a look at the section called "The Journey'" to learn about daily life along the trail. Oregon Trail 101 features some amazing pictures of wagon trains and emigrants. Check out Emigrant Diaries and Journals to learn what people who traveled the trail thought about their experience.

The Oregon and California Trails Association is another great resource for learning about the people who crossed the Oregon Trail. The Peoples and Places section of the website shares emigrant profiles and trail stories.

Want to take a break from your research and play a game? Actually, you don't have to! The Oregon Trail lets you research while you are playing a game. See how you would have fared on the trail and learn about some of the hardships that those who crossed it faced. This game has been around since the 1980's, so check in with your teacher and family to see if they played the game when they were your age. You can either play the early version of the game online, or download an app. Besides the game, the website shares information about daily life along the trail.

Want to learn more about the Oregon Trail? Just ask a librarian !

Discover some of the ancestors of peoples now living in modern day Mexico to Peru from these websites and books about the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans.  Map of Mesoamerica, Aztecs, 14th-15th centuriesMap of Mesoamerica, Maya

 

The British Museum in London has artifacts from around the world, representing people, places and cultures from the past two million years. The museum has short introductions to Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. Click on photos to find out more about that object and its importance.

 

Scroll down the page of The Civilizations of Ancient Mesoamerica to read about the history and culture of ancient Mexicans. Visit The World of the Ancient Mayans for more information.

Map of Latin America, Inca Empire, 15th century

 

Have fun exploring The Sport of Life and Death: the Mesoamerican Ballgame. Not only can you learn about the world's first team sport, you can get quick info about each culture and the time periods. Test your knowledge as you play a game (no sacrifices involved). Check out the video below about the rubber balls used for the game and see an example of how a version of the game was played.

If you want or need more help, contact a librarian. We're just a click away!

Sir George Grove, editor of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians circa 1890A Brief History

Generations of musicians and librarians have relied upon the various editions of George Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians for answering music questions. At Central Library, the earliest edition is the 4-volume edition published by Macmillan in 1890. When the last print edition was published in 2001, the representatives from Oxford University Press told us at a conference that this would be the very last print edition.

Reading the preface to a book is often a good way to get a sense of the author's ideas.  A comparison of the preface in the 1st edition of 1890 to the 2001 print edition reveals the passage of time toward our global society. Not surprisingly, the first edition is intentionally eurocentric: "All investigations into the music of barbarous nations have been have been avoided, unless they have some direct bearing on European music." as Sir George wrote in the preface.

For the most recent print edition in 2001, editor Stanley Sadie wrote: "Our express intention is to spread the net more widely and to trawl more deeply. Thus more composers globally are entered, more countries are represented, and countries whose representation was in 1980 hampered by political factors are now considered on the same basis (at least as far as communications permit) as the main Western democracies."

The most recent edition of Grove's is not in print but online, available to you through the Multnomah County Library website with your MCL library card. Though based on the last print edition of 2001, the online version is different from the print, with new and revised articles, and features that have been added in the past 12 years. The current editor, Deane L. Root, describes the Grove as continually evolving, and more responsive to input from readers/researchers:

In online writing and publication, prior versions of articles are often not retained when an article is updated with new content.

However, "In 2008, the editiors of Oxford Music Online began retaining selections of previous versions of articles in Grove Music Online that have been significantly revised. When a previous version of an article is available, a link (dated according to when the version was created) appears in the left-hand panel of the page. The decision to create a previous version is based on the nature of the revision. As a general rule, if the editors believe that making a previous version available on the site will provide added value to the reader, the version is created. The most common cases involve articles with extensive changes, with content both added and removed, but sometimes the revision could affect as little as one sentence."

How to search by name, occupation, or nationality in Oxford Music Online:

  1. Link to Oxford Music Online with your library card from Multnomah County: Oxford Music Online
  2. Link to Advanced Search for the best results.
  3. Select 'Biography Search.'
  4. In the 'Search for' fields, type name, occupation, nationality, or place of birth.
  5. Check Grove Music Online for full entries.
  6. Press SEARCH

A few selections of features of Oxford Music Online:

Not finding what you are looking for?

Link to the search guide or Contact the Reference Staff of Multnomah County Library for assistance.

 


This is part two of a multi-part series on researching past residents of your Portland-area house:


House history researchers are often interested in learning who lived in their houses in the past.  In the first post in this series, we explored using city directories to find past residents of Portland houses.  But that only works reliably for 1934-present, because nearly every building in the whole city got a completely new address (and sometimes a new street name) in the early 1930s.  So, what if you want to go back further and find out who lived in your house in 1933, or earlier?  You have come to the right place!  To get started, here's a little background on old and new addresses in Portland:

Portland's 1930s address system revision

House numbering crews at work (photo from the Oregonian 16 July 1933)The city grew enormously around the turn of the century and each newly-added bit of land had its own street naming conventions and address numbering system.  It was rather chaotic!  In the spring of 1931, the city finally decided to act.  That summer, five-man crews began walking the entire city and assigning new addresses to every building.  Many street names were changed too.  The crews finished their work in July 1933. 

This is how we got the familiar "five quadrants" that we use today: NW, N, NE, SW, and SE.  If your house was built before 1933 and you want to find its early residents, you will need to know the original address.

Finding your house's pre-1933 address

Old and new addresses on 24th St./Ave. in NE Portland (from the Crane Directory of Street and Name Changes)There are several different ways to track down a pre-1933 address, but the simplest is to look in the Directory of Street and Name Changes published by the Crane Direct Mail Service.  The library has two copies, both at Central Library. Ask at the reference desk in the Literature & History room on the third floor, and the librarian on duty can show you how to use it.

Here's the information the Directory of Street and Name Changes shows for the Magadanz and Schuman family houses that we looked at in the 1934 city directory, in our last blog post:

The Magedanz family house's pre-1930s address was 1075 E 24th St. N (in pink, on the left). The renumbering crews gave it the new address 5115 NE 24th Ave.

Old and new addresses on Market St. in SW Portland (from the Crane Directory of Street and Name Changes)The Schumans' house was 555 Market St (in white, below and to the left).  After it was changed sometime in 1931 or 1932, it became 1737 SW Market St.

The Directory of Street and Name Changes was published in the 1930s, and meant as a tool for people who had to live through this rather disruptive change.  It shows address changes for buildings that were within the city limits at the time (remember, Portland was much smaller in the 30s than it is now -- check the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability’s map of historical annexations to the City of Portland (pdf) to see when your neighborhood joined the city).  But, if your house was built before 1933, and it was within the city limits in the early 1930s, it should be included in this cross-reference directory.

Using pre-1930s addresses

Okay, what if you know your Portland house's pre-1930s address, and you'd like to find out who lived there in those early years?  If you want to know who lived in your house in 1930, 1931, 1932, or 1933, you can use the Polk's Portland (Oregon) City Directory – it has a pink section in the back which lists residents by address.  General tips on using city directories are in part one of the Who lived in my house? series.  If you're looking in 1930 or 1931, use the house's older address; if you're looking in 1932 or 1933, you might have to check both the old and the new address, because some neighborhoods had their addresses changed earlier than others.

Finding out who lived in your house in 1929 and earlier

What if you want to find out who lived in your house before 1930?  That can be a challenge, because city directories for 1864-1929 don't have a section in the back with listings by address!

Here are some things to try:

Look for the names of your house's 1930 residents in directories from earlier years.  Maybe they lived there the whole time!

Check to see if the city issued plumbing or sewer permits when your house was built or modified – these sometimes list the owner's name. You can see some early permits by looking for your house in the city's property information database PortlandMaps – type in your address, then click on the "Property" tab, then on the "Historic permits" tab.  (Portland's Development Service Center has more complete historical permit records, so visit their office in downtown Portland if you'd like to dig deeper.)

Search the library's Historical Oregonian (1861-1987) database for your house's pre-1930s address to see if you can find news articles, rental or real estate advertisements, or funeral notices from early issues of the Oregonian daily newspaper that reference your house.  The Historical Oregonian can be a tricky database to search, so here are some tips:

If you are only interested in a limited range of dates, set your search to those dates by clicking on the "Dates and Eras" tab and typing in the years you need.  For example, if your house was built in 1913, you might limit your search to 1913-1932, the approximate date the new Portland address system was finalized.

Type your house's pre-1930s address in with quotation marks around it, like this:

"example street"

If your street had a directional before the 1930s (e.g. "East Pine St.," "E. 9th St. N," or "52nd Ave. SE"), be sure to include it in your search.  Try different variations:

"925 E Pine"
"925 East Pine"

"126 19th St. North"
"126 19 N"
"126 19th N"
"126 19th Street N"
"126 19th Street North"

"52 Ave. SE"
"52nd Avenue SE"
"Fifty Second Avenue South East"


Now you have some basic tools for finding your house's pre-1930s address, and for tracking down residents from the early 30s and before!  To get a refresher on using city directories to find out who lived in your house from 1934 to the present, take a look at part one of this series, and stay tuned for the next installment: Who lived in my house? Houses that are (or were) outside Portland.

Have fun researching the history of your house; and as always, be sure to ask your friendly librarian any time you have questions, or whenever you'd like help with a research project!


 

In the United States, our democracy relies on three branches of government. These branches -- executive, legislative and judicial help to ensure that laws are fair and balanced. The system created by these three branches is called checks and balances. Here's a video that explains the idea of how the three branches balance one another. 

 

 

Follow these links to find out more about the  President (executive), Congress (legislative), and the U.S. Supreme Court (judicial.) Or learn more by playing a game on iCivics.org. Games like Branches of Power and Supreme Decision give you a look at some of the real-life issues faced by Congress, the President and the Supreme Court. (You can register for a free account or play as a guest.)

Here are some more places to explore for more information about the Federal government:

Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids has information for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

Kids in the House is published by the Clerk's office of the US House of Representatives. This site has sections for Young Learners, Grade School, Middle School and High School.

For detailed information about state government in Oregon, the Oregon Blue Book is the go-to guide!

Do you need to know the national holidays of Sri Lanka? Find the agricultural products of Ecuador? Or maybe print an image of the Nigerian flag? You’ve come to the right place!

Culturegrams and Lands and Peoples are encyclopedias in which you can find out about the history and geography of a country, as well the daily lives of its citizens. There are great printable maps and images of the country’s flag and lots of photos. In Culturegrams, you can even listen to the country’s national anthem or sample recipes! If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedias with your library card and PIN. 

Image of world mapThe CIA World Factbook has a wealth of information about the geography, people government and economy of countries, most of it in a table format. You can also visit their Flags of the World section to get a printable version of a country’s flag and information about what all its symbols mean.

At Background Notes from the U.S. State Department, you’ll find maps and flags for each country, as well as a history of its relations with the U.S. and links to in-depth country studies from Library of Congress.

The BBC has a page of Country Profiles, which are a good source for current events, as well as fast facts and timelines. And don’t miss National Geographic’s Destinations A-Z, a great source for travel articles, maps and colorful photos.

Not finding what you need here? Contact a librarian for more help.

Have you ever heard someone say they're "so OCD" when they're talking about how they organize things, or how they only like one color of Skittles? 

People who have OCD -- obsessive-compulsive disorder -- certainly can and do use humor to talk about how the disorder affects them. Performance poet Neil Hilborn has a poem called "OCD," and while overall the poem is a poignant reflection on a relationship, there are some funny moments where the humor comes from Hilborn's depiction of his compulsions.

But as Mara Wilson writes in "4 Things No One Tells You About Having OCD,"  "it's an incapacitating, isolating disease that makes you afraid of your own mind." 

You can learn more about OCD and other mental illnesses and find out about support and resources available in Multnomah County from the National Alliance on Mental Illness's Multnomah chapter

 

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
--Robert Frost

You could say that there are two types of people in this world. There are those who:

  • abhor poetry because they see it as boring
  • love poetry because they see it as an outlet

One way to keep the tradition of poetry truly vibrant is through poetry slams. These are live, often electrifying performances of one's own poetry. In poetry slams, the poem is the rough draft and the performance is the final version. 

Watch this 5-minute video on Global Writes, the nonprofit in The Bronx that pairs up poets with students. You will see here that the performances come not just from the heart but from the entire body.

 
So, how can you get involved?
 
If you are a high school student at Portland Public Schools, your best bet for making your mark is by taking part in Verselandia, the much-hyped poetry slam series which will be held on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014. If you are an educator working with teens who would like to stage these performances, PBS's News Hour has a slam lesson plan that you could find useful. Want to host a slam just because? Read this slam prep guide from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill complete with a rubric and score sheet.
 
And there is no shame in just observing. If you want to see what's out there, see the slam reading list below or take advantage of our Ask a Librarian service!

Who is this Molly everyone’s talking about?  Why are those girls giggling so much about bath salts?  Cruise over to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s site for teens for information on many kinds of drugs, including street names, addictiveness, effects on the brain, and symptoms of abuse.  Then swing by the University of Utah’s Mouse Party for informative animations of the ways drugs interact with neurons to produce those euphoric effects. 

Perhaps you need to write a research paper on a drug or addiction and you’re casting about for a suitable topic.  Sara Bellum’s blog, produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as jumping off points for more research on many angles of drug abuse.  You may be inspired by a blog on e-cigarettes or the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in sports or how new brain science is influencing addiction treatment.  Learn how addiction works from How Stuff Works and click on links to more articles on specific drugs.  Once you’ve chosen your topic, use the Teen Health and Wellness database with your library card and PIN to find further information and articles.

If you’re debating the pros and cons of drug legalization, take a look at the Drug Policy Alliance website.  They present political arguments and opinions in favor of legalizing marijuana in the United States.  Weigh those against the opinions of CALM (Citizens Against Marijuana Legalization) for your compare and contrast paper.  Librarian Cathy C. gathered lots of recent information on the efforts in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana in her blog postOpposing Viewpoints Resource Center in Context is available anywhere with your library card and PIN.   Search “drug legalization,” “drug abuse” or “drugs and athletes” for balanced, factual pro/con articles.

 

For more help, contact a librarian.

In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued two rulings that quite possibly permanently changed the face of marriage in the United States: In one, the Justices struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), making same-sex spouses eligible for the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, such as social security and – in the case of the plaintiff in this case – exemption from estate taxes. In the second ruling, the Court elected not to hear an appeal of a California lower-court decision striking down Proposition 8 – which prevented same-sex couples from marrying – as unconstitutional.

Because the Court struck down DOMA, plaintiffs in states where same-sex marriage is illegal can now argue that since the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages, so must the state.  Same-sex marriage advocates in many states – including Oregon – are moving forward with legal challenges.

More than one third of the states have already legalized gay marriage. In Oregon, gay marriage licenses were both approved and retracted in 2004. A 2013 poll shows 49% of Oregonians in favor of changing the constitution in support of same-sex marriage, and organizations are mobilizing to put a measure on the 2014 ballot.

Plaintiffs in Geiger v Kitzhaber (Wikimedia Commons)Edited to add [5/20/14].  Yesterday, Federal Judge Michael J. McShane struck down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage that resulted from the successful 2004 ballot measure (Measure 36) amending the state constitution to define marriage as a union of "one man and one woman." "Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest," McShane wrote in his decision, "the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The plaintiffs in the case, Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson Geiger, (pictured above) were the first couple to marry in Multnomah County following the decision. Nearly 100 other same-sex couples also obtained licenses from Multnomah County on May 19.

There are many issues, both pro and con, on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. Major religious groups have also taken a stand on both sides of the issue.  

No matter what, if legalization of same-sex marriage passes, the one thing it guarantees is to bring more money to the wedding industry, as evidenced in states where it already exists, like New York and Massachusetts.

We love readers, and we love sharing the gems we find in the library, in the book drop and from speaking with you, our patrons. Here are the best of the best of 2013.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has some great pictures of each of our Willamette River Bridges, can you figure out what order they are in?

Last summer I got to take a boat ride and took some pictures from the river of some of the bridges.

 

 

 

 

Can you guess which bridge this one is?Underside of the grates in the Hawthrone Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In January of 2013 the Sellwood bridge got moved. They moved it because they are building a new one and wanted people to still be able to cross the river there.


This is part one of a multi-part series on researching past residents of your Portland-area house:


If you’re interested in your house’s history, chances are you want to know more about the people who lived there before you moved in.  The good news is, it is usually both easy and fun to find out who lived in your house!   In this post, I'll show you how you can use historical city directories to find information about who lived in houses that are in the city of Portland. 

UPDATE: This post will show you how to find the names of people who lived in your house from 1934 to now. Portland had a massive, citywide address system revision in the 1930s, so finding earlier residents requires an extra step -- finding out your house's pre-1930s address!  We'll deal with that challenge in part two of this series, Who lived in my house? Portland addresses 1933 and earlier.

If your house was within Portland city limits when it was built, or during the time period you want to research, its residents will probably be listed in the Portland city directories.   If you’re not sure when your neighborhood became part of Portland, take a look at the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability’s map of historical annexations to the City of Portland (pdf).

City directories are a little bit like telephone books, except that they date back way earlier (the first Portland city directory was published by the Polk Company in 1864!).  To look at the library's extensive collection of city directories, visit the Literature & History room on the third floor at Central Library.  The librarian on duty will be happy to help you get started – but here's a bit about how to go about using these valuable resources:

City directories often contain more information about people than phone books do.  In addition to a home address, most people’s city directory listings state their job or occupation, and some include their employer’s name.  Usually only heads of household are listed in city directories, but you’ll see their spouses or (in the case of women who are widows) deceased spouses noted in parentheses.

1934 city directory listing for Lida SchumanOn the right is a listing from the 1934 Polk's Portland (Oregon) City Directory showing that Lida Schuman, widow of Louis L. Schuman, lived in, and probably owned the house at 1737 SW Market St.  (There is an abbreviations code at the beginning of the directory which tells us that "h" means "householder," most likely another way of saying that the person listed both lived in and owned the house.)

Let's look at another one:

1934 city directory listings for the Magedanz familyThis listing (also from 1934) tells us that Gustav R. Magedanz, who worked at a business called Pigott & Magedanz, lived with his wife Martha, at 5115 NE 24th Ave.  There is an "h" next to their address too, so they probably owned the house.

A little bit below Gustav and Martha, there are a couple of other people named Magedanz who share the same address: Marvin Magedanz, a millworker; and Norman A. Magedanz, an attendant at Pigott & Magedanz.  These are very likely relatives of Gustav and Martha – maybe their sons or brothers?  Both of their entries have an "r" before the address.  According to the abbreviations list at the beginning of the directory, this "r" means "roomer or resides." Usually this is an indication that the person or family in the listing rents their house or apartment, rather than owning it.  (Marvin and Norman lived in what appears to be their family home, so they may have paid rent, or perhaps not.)

1934 city directory listing for Pigott & MagedanzPigott & Magedanz has a listing too (shown at right), which tells us that Gustav R. Magedanz and his partner Thomas A. Pigott operated a gas station at 1035 SW 6th Ave., in downtown Portland. 

Sharp eyes will note, though, that the listings above are alphabetical by name, not by address!  When you are looking for the past residents of your house, you probably don't know their names, right?  Never fear, Portland city directories published in 1930 and after have a special cross-reference section in the back that you can use to see who lived at a particular address. 

1934 city directory listings by address, SW Market St.Here’s what the by-address listings in the back of the 1934 directory look like – the top excerpt on the left shows Lida Schuman's house at 1737 SW Market St.

1934 city directory listings by address, NE 24th Ave.And the one below it shows Magedanz family house at 5115 NE 24th.  In both by-address listings, you can see the cross streets at each corner, which can be quite helpful when you're searching for a specific property.

The listings by address don't show as much detail as the listings in the alphabetical-by-name section, but they do sometimes have a little donut symbol to the right of the householder's name.  This means that the person reported that they owned their house.


Now you have a grasp of some of the basics of using city directories to find out who used to live in your Portland house, in 1934 and later!  To learn more about finding past residents of your house before 1934, take alook at the next installment in this series: Who lived in my house? Portland addresses 1933 and earlier.

Have fun researching the history of your house; and as always, be sure to ask your friendly librarian any time you have questions, or whenever you'd like help with a research project!


 

Money infographic from the History ChannelI don’t know about you, but I kind of like money.  And I really like history, even if it isn’t very profitable. Today we think of coins as being small amounts of money, but further back in history that wasn't true.  A single Spanish Pieces of eight coin (so loved by movie pirates) was the same as having 80 dollars.  When we talk about money, it can be about the concept of money- the ability buy or sell things. Or we can talk about the actual physical money.  Someday soon we might have a good long chat about Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations But for now lets talk about gods, empires, loose change, and of course cows.  

Money is a kind of an odd idea when you think about it: you give someone a few pieces of paper or some bits of metal and they give you stuff.  There are a lot of complex reasons and theories behind money. But at its core it’s an extension from the bartering system of trading one thing for another so everyone got something they needed.  This included livestock, shells, and cocoa beans.  People as a group decide what money is worth and what you can buy with it.  Money makes the trade a little more abstract but deals with the slight problem that cows are hard to carry.

By the time U.S. money comes along there is a lot of money and a lot of questions.  What kind of money should the brand new country use?  The leftovers from Britain?  It was available and people had been using it, but the system was… lets just say, complicated.  For example, did you know that 12 farthings equals one thruppence?  Yeah, me neither.  So when the United States opened the U.S. Mint in 1792, they had gone with Thomas Jefferson's suggestion to break everything down by 100 creating the pennies, quarters, and dollars that we know.  

San Francisco Mint after the earthquake, 1906.  Money and the Mint kept up with history: In 1906 when the San Francisco earthquake leveled the city, the U.S. Mint was one of the few buildings left standing and became the temporary bank for the region and the place where people could come for relief funds.  

In a more intentional nod to history, important people (well, mostly presidents) and places are stamped into our money.  The Lincoln Memorial, Crater Lake and the Statue of Libery are just a few that have appeared on U.S. money.  The United States is hardly the first country to use money to show off what is important to them.   The first person to be put on money was Alexander the Great, with the goddess Athena on the other side.  The coin wasn't made by Alexander, but by the ruler who came after him, Lysimachus.  He created the coin to show off his connection with Alexander.  One of the earliest coins in history is from Lydia (now Turkey) and is over 2500 years old.  After thousands of years without using coins and money, it is probably not random that the first place to make coins was a kingdom built on trading the all the gold in the area.

Athena's owl on a Greek coin, circa 450 BC. From the British MuseumThis coin from Ancient Greece is now in the British Museum and shows the owl of Athena was made and used around 2400 years ago.  People make history with money, but our money is history itself. I wonder what impressions our quarters will leave in the future?  

 

 

Want to learn more about money?  Ask a librarian!

 

Can you, or do you know someone who can, remember what you were doing on November 22, 1963? For baby boomers, this day is as memorable as 9/11 is for Gen Xers or Millennials. It is, of course, the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Hundreds of books have been written about the assassination and the brief JFK presidency, and this 50th anniversary has produced even more. A selection of these new materials is below.

One of the enduring mysteries of the assassination is what happened exactly? The Warren Commission said Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone (as did his killer, Jack Ruby), but most Americans don’t believe that.  There are almost as many theories out there as years that have passed since that day. Was it the CIA? The mob? Vice President Johnson? What’s your theory?

And why does this event of half a century ago still resonate?

You can find out a lot about how your house might have looked when it was new by leafing through magazines from the period your house was built.

cover of the October 1948 Sunset Magazine"Shelter" magazines (magazines that focus on interior decorating, gardening, architecture, and related subjects) from the period your house was built are great sources for information, especially if you are willing to browse through them carefully.  Here are a few to try:

  • Better Homes and Gardens (July 1925-present) 
  • House & Garden (1904-2007)  Like a lot of magazines, House & Garden has changed its name over time. Issues from 1904-1993 were called House & Garden; from 1996-1997 it was called Conde Nast House & Garden, and then from 1998-2007 the name was House & Garden again.
  • House Beautiful (1897-present) 
  • Sunset (1898-present)  Sunset was one of the first magazines to celebrate ranch-style houses, and their annual "Idea House" building project has generated dozens of creative and dynamic house designs over the years.

cover of the July/August 1989 Old-House JournalYou might also be interested in magazines about historically accurate renovation.  The best-known of these is Old-House Journal (1975-present), and it can be a treasure-trove!  The early issues focus more on 19th century houses, but as the magazine has matured it has come to include renovation and do-it-yourself advice and articles on the history of houses from the early 1800s through the 1960s. 

Some other house renovation and old house style magazines you might find useful are: Old-House Interiors, American Bungalow, and Atomic Ranch.

All of these magazines are available for you to browse at Central Library, on the second floor, in the Periodicals Room.  Ask the friendly librarians in the Periodicals Room to help you locate the specific issues or date range you need!

Questions? Ask the Librarian!

Storms by Mich Dobrowner bookcoverThe cover image of the book Storms is titled "Wall Cloud," one of many photographs in this book for which the land is an minimal part of the image as compared to the sky. Published by the Aperture Foundation, this is the first book by Mitch Dobrowner, the result of his travels following storms in the Midwest with Roger Hill, storm chaser. The full page images, introduction by Gretel Ehrlich, and interview with the photographer creates a book that  allows for contemplation of the form and power of these events abstracted from the sound and destructive power they contain.

The choice of black/white/greyscale captures the motion of swirling clouds, lightning and hail on landscapes that appear still, as yet unaffected by oncoming velocity of wind. "On a drive we took from Colorado to Kansas in 2010 - more than a hundred miles through cornfield after cornfield, nothing but corn - we found the storm, and I photographed it. On the drive back to Colorado, returning by the same road, we saw that all the corn was  gone. Instead, there remained only bare stalks standing there, for, maybe, a hundred miles."  from interview with the author at the conclusion of Storms.

Info: Storms Dobrowner, Mitch. New York, NY : Aperture Foundation Inc. 2013.
Central Library: 770 D634s 2013


Place a hold on this title to reserve it and send to your closest neighborhood library.

Links: Mitch Dobrowner | Aperture Foundation

 

Booktalking Is Her Dream Job

by Mindy Moreland

Photo of Anne Shalas


During her more than three decades as an elementary school teacher, Anne Shalas’ favorite part of each day was the chance to share books and new ideas with her students. When she retired from teaching, she missed her classroom, and those special hours.  Fortunately, the library’s Books 2 U program now provides her with a chance to visit schools county-wide, sharing new stories with young people and encouraging a lifetime of reading.

Anne serves as a Book Talker, one of a special group of volunteers in the Books 2 U program who bring paperback books to targeted classrooms around Multnomah County. Book Talkers visit 3rd through 6th grade classes, bringing armloads of books for the students to check out from their in-classroom library. Each Book Talker visit features a fun, high-energy presentation of new titles, an aspect of the position that Anne particularly enjoys. “I get to be a ham,” she says, adding that her natural introversion seems to vanish when she has the chance to perform for a group of students. Thanks to her talents, and those of her fellow volunteers, the Books 2 U program now reaches more than 25,000 students at 49 schools, as well as a robust summer outreach program.     

Now in her fifth year as a Book Talker, Anne relishes the connections she has with her former school, thanks to Books 2 U, as well as the chance to connect with students and watch them grow. Anne compares the experience of being a Book Talker to that of being a classroom grandparent, able to experience all the best parts of classroom teaching all over again while helping hundreds of new students each year to get excited about reading. “It’s the absolute perfect dream retirement position,” she says.

A Few Facts About Anne

Home library: Albina Library

Currently reading: In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl and just finished How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.

Most influential book: No one book has been a predominant influence.  Poetry probably has had more of an influence on me: A. E. Housman, W.H. Auden and Robert Frost.

Favorite book from childhood: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders about a badly abused dog, though it had a happy ending!  I read and reread it for several years.

A book that made you laugh or cry: I laugh at a number of authors, PJ O’Rourke, Dave Barry, A. J. Jacobs, Richard Peck, PG Wodehouse, but one that made me laugh and cry both was a book by Caitlin Moran, called How to be a Woman.  Moran is someone I think of as a British Tina Fey.

Favorite section of the library: I enjoy the new and Lucky Day sections, but can spend ages just perusing the shelves.  I just love books and the atmosphere of being in the library.

E-reader or paper book? Paper books, no contest, especially the feel and smell of a new book's pages.

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Books I enjoy, even though I know they have no real literary merit.  I am still working to convince myself that it really is OK to just read to relax in a sort of mindless way.

Favorite place to read: We have a fabulous soft rocking chair in our big front window, and also we have bird feeders in our back yard.  In warmer weather, I can sit out there quietly. The birds are used to me, especially my little chickadees, and will flock around if I am fairly still.

 

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

 

If you've ever wanted to move, build or take something apart, you need tools.  The most basic of these are called simple machines.  Used alone or in combination, they allow us to do the jobs we need to do.  They are levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, and screws.

Simple Machines

Here are some different ways to learn more: quiz yourself, learn their history, build something fun, work on the math and find out how they are used in a job setting.  See how simple machines might have built a mystery castle.  If, after all that, you can't remember what they are, here's a catchy tune to help jog your memory.

Need more information?  Visit your local library.

Indochina (also spelled Indo-China) lies between two of the world's oldest civilizations, India and China. 

The Geography of Southeast Asia

The region contains many fertile plains formed by three major rivers -- the Mekong, Salween, and Irrawaddy. The land is rich in mineral resources, including petroleum, tin, tungsten, lead, zinc and iron, among others.

Today, Southeast Asia includes the countries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and sometimes is said to include Myanmar (also known as Burma), Thailand, Malaya (part of Malaysia), and Singapore.

Map of Indochina

Here are a few links for finding more information about the geography of the region:

Asia Geography

South Asia Geography

The History of Indochina

The name Indochina comes from the French imperial presence between 1884 and 1954 in Southeast Asia. France withdrew from southeast Asia in 1954 following the loss of the Indochina War. 

The Vietnam War -- United States in Vietnam -- 1945-1975

History Today, Southeast Asia

Modern Day

Here's a brief video showing images of mostly rural places. Rivers and boats play a vital role in the region. 

Researching Indochina

To begin researching in our databases, you will need your library card and pin number. You can look for articles on Indochina in the World Book Encyclopedia or the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia

Pages

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