1. On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire in the stairwell of the Upstairs Lounge, killing 32 people, many of whom were members of a local gay congregation, the Metropolitan Community Church.

    The LGBT Religious Archives Network is in the process of building a digital exhibit about the fire, its lead up, and the aftermath, and is soliciting funds for its completion. It needs $1000 for the project, but is looking for simple donations of about $25-50. Fellowship between the LGBT community and Christian groups is a big deal for me, so I am passing the word forward. 

    Their donation link is here: http://www.lgbtran.org/DonateLink.aspx

    If you have some time, check the site out too, as there are a number of exhibits already up. 

    Under the cut is a transcript of Rev. William P. Richardson, Jr.’s letter to his congregation on his decision to hold memorial services at St. George’s Parish for the people who perished.

    Read More


  2. A telephone conversation between the President and California Governor Ronald Reagan after the UN votes to expel Taiwan from the UN General Assembly. 

    The last installment of the Nixon Tapes was released this week, after more than a decade of work and struggle that was referred to by some as “The Nixon Wars.”

    A good general article on the release of the tapes is here

    The last 340 hours of more than 3,700 hours of Nixon tapes came from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Calif., covering April 9, 1973, to July 12, 1973 — the day before the secret taping system was revealed.

    Little more than a year later, done in by the revelations on the tapes, Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974. It took four decades, though, for the public to gain access to the last of the tapes.

    "It’s over, and I won," says historian Stanley Kutler, whose 1992 lawsuit helped lead to the tapes’ release. "All the tapes are out, and it’s there for every historian, every generation to judge. … Never until Nixon have we been so able to get into the mind of a president."

    Included among the recordings are Bush senior, Regan, and “Leonid Brezhnev,” a “cold war enemy” from the Soviet Union.

    NixoNARA has a more Archives focused post on the issue here. An overview of the work that was done by NARA to make these tapes available is here. This stuff should be required reading in archives classes. An interesting snippit:

    “What is harder to understand is that the National Archives proved to be Nixon’s willing and trusted ally — even though it meant defying the law and misleading the public as to the nature of the material. Don Wilson, the archivist of the United States during most of its obstructionism, and John Fawcett, then head of the Archives’ presidential libraries division, ignored legitimate requests for access. Denying even that more Watergate tapes existed, they put themselves in the service of Nixon, not the nation or the scholarly community as they were obligated to do.

    I sued reluctantly, for the Archives is a precious place for me — one filled with dedicated public servants, committed to the principles of an open society. Nixon intervened … Eventually, the Archives acknowledged it held hundreds of hours of Watergate tapes, but only after I proved their existence by working through the internal evidence of the Nixon Papers. The Archives thus exposed its own cover-up.”

    Most of us will never find ourselves in a situation where our ethical chops are tested by something this big, but even in the smallest archive ethical issues will come up, and preparation and a good education are an important part of being able to respond to them.


  3. KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today handed over rare historical artifacts that were stolen decades ago and recovered recently from the United States, to National Archives of Nepal.

    The six wooden covers of ancient Hindu religious books of Shiva Dharma, Bishnu Dharma and Bhagabata which are carved with colorful paintings of Hindu Gods were handed over to Prakash Darnal, chief, National Archives of Nepal, by MoFA Spokesperson Deepak Dhital today at a programme organised at MoFA. 

    The 13th to 16th century artifacts, among the ancient paintings from Nepal, were stolen between 1986 to 1990 and were suddenly found in New York in March, when Christie’s, a world renowned auction house, put them in auction. Their value was estimated in range of $150,000-$200,000.

    Talking to media, Darnal said it came to light that they were lost only after Christie’s put them under the hammer in New York in March. “They are among the oldest paintings found so far in Nepal,” he said. He thanked all those who extended support to bring the items of historical significance back to Nepal. “If we did not have the microfilm of them, we would not have been able to bring them back,” Darnal said. 


  4. On July 10, the historian Natalie Zemon Davis was one of several people awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama. At the award ceremony, the medal winners were asked to reflect on a “turning point” in their lives, and Davis discussed the support of her husband, Chandler Davis, who courageously sought to challenge the constitutionality of the House Committee on Un-American Activities before the Supreme Court in 1959. (The Court refused to take the case.) After the ceremony, however, Davis found she had a further answer to the question put to her. What follows is that answer.

  5. The Public Domain introduces its Curators Choice series with a guess post from the British Library Colonial Copyright Collection.

    Copyright collections – those aggregations of published material accumulated by libraries as a result of copyright deposit laws – can provide a unique view of the world; especially when they have the opportunity to add photographs to their holdings. With minimal curatorial involvement in their selection and collection, as well as few gate keepers beyond the administration fee required to register copyright, you could say that such caches of material are a rare thing – a photographic world selected by myriad photographers themselves.

    It is worth noting that the collection covers an important period in Canadian history. Between 1895 and 1924 new provinces join the Confederation, one of Canada’s most influential Prime Ministers is in office, the First World War changes huge numbers of Canadian lives and the country itself becomes increasingly independent and influential on the world stage. All of this is depicted in the collection with national events treated to local interpretations and international conflicts given a uniquely Canadian perspective. 

    (Source: publicdomainreview.org)


  6. Is your institution on the list?

    This page is part of a wiki for collecting social media accounts of special collections. It’s sparse at the moment, so if you run an institutional blog, you may want edit in your urls.

  7. Recovered Nazi diary gives rare view into Third Reich

    An important piece of Nazi record, missing for 70 years, has just been recovered.

    "This is one of the great detective stories of our time. The diary was known at the time of the military tribunal in Nuremberg when the leadership of the Nazi Party was tried and it then disappeared for nearly 70 years," ICE Director John Morton told CNN. "It was in fact smuggled out of Nuremberg into the United States, probably by Robert Kempner, who was one of the prosecutors for the United States in Nuremberg."

    The yellowed pages of the diary — some written on Nazi Party stationery — cover the lead-up to World War II and party activities during the war. Containing frequent mentions of “Der Fuhrer,” referring to Hitler, they describe conflicts between Nazi leaders like Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels — the chief propagandist — who battled over who was closest to Hitler.

    Click through for a short video report.

  8. UT Arlington professor, graduate student discover poem written by 18th century slave from New York

    A University of Texas at Arlington English professor and his doctoral student have discovered a never-before published, handwritten manuscript by Jupiter Hammon, an 18th century slave from Long Island, N.Y., who many scholars consider one of the founders of early African-American literature.

    “This is an important discovery for three reasons,” said Sandra Gustafson, editor of Early American Literature. “It expands the very small number of known works by enslaved African Americans written in the 18th century. The poem voices a strong, direct critique of slavery. And it shows Hammon’s ongoing poetic dialogue with Phillis Wheatley on matters of Christian faith and social justice.”

    Hammon was born in 1711 and lived long enough to serve four generations of the prominent Lloyd family of Queens Village on Long Island. He learned to read and write along with the Lloyd children, eventually penning poems that appeared in print as far back as 1760.

    There’ll be a journal article on it in Early American Literature this month.

    Also, for the anti-“Discovery” and item level description crowd: The poem was cataloged in the Yale archives finding aid!

    [The researchers] believe that those who catalogued the document years ago mistakenly thought it was a Hammon poem that was already known.

    Take that, MPLP!


  10. The header image for Archiveteam, “a loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage.” 

    Archiveteam just won an NDSA Innovation Award for its work in “rescuing our shit.” They are awesome and you should check them out.