Blogs:

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.

What is it about the villain that captures our interest?  Sure, they provide a force for the hero to battle. But there’s more than that. While the hero is a spotless and shining example of our virtue, the villain shines a light on those dark recesses of our soul. They have motivations that are far murkier. They’ve had to make the tough choices. They are the losers who have to keep pushing through when the world turns against them. A good villain makes a story memorable. 

There are two sides to every story. The following books look at familiar stories from the villains’ point of view.

Medea: A Delphic Woman Novel by Kerry Greenwood

I know what you’re thinking: How could there be a good side to a woman who kills her own children.  But did you know that Euripides was paid by the city of Corinth to write his version of this myth with Medea murdering her children? This modern interpretation is closer to the original.

Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg

Aaron Burr is mostly remembered as the man who shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel. However, though he's been stricken from the pantheon of the Founding Fathers, Burr influenced our burgeoning nation in innumerable ways.

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffery Brown

This playful graphic novel reminds us that before Darth Vader was the Dark Lord of the Sith, he was just a single dad with a precocious young son.


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

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