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Archive for the ‘Interesting Web Resources’ Category

I had never used Evernote software before this semester. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it. I utilized a hybrid-system of typed and handwritten notes that were saved in various places in an array of formats. I would usually transcribe class notes onto my laptop, highlight my digital format readings in Mac’s Preview, write out reading notes from printed materials into notebooks, list things I needed to remember on sticky-notes, and work out assignment outlines in a more compact and accessible ‘travel notebook.’ I wouldn’t say Evernote resolved my obsession with diversified note taking, but I would say it helped organize some of the confusion.

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This is the basic interface of Evernote, although there are a few different outlines you can choose from. I used the list feature here to keep track of which projects I have edited. This feature is great for to-do lists.

There are multiple note taking programs out there, from Google Keep to OneNote, and sometimes it’s just a matter of which is most compatible to your personal note-taking style (or aesthetic preference). However, there are a few features of Evernote that make it a little more versatile than its competitors. To begin, Evernote isn’t an exclusive Microsoft/P.C. product like OneNote, or an Android preferred system like Google Keep. This means that if you do make the daunting crossover from PC to Mac, Android to iPhone, or vice versa, your Evernotes will still be compatible.

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Basic interface of Google Keep, taken from an Android

OneNote

Basic interface of OneNote software

The software’s diversity is threefold in its ability to be referenced on computers as a program, mobile devices as an app, and online as a website. This means you can sync it to your different devices or access it online if you are without them. This does lead into to some interface problems, however. When using your iPad or Kindle the keyboard cuts off most of the Evernote screen making it difficult to use it for anything but reading notes already taken. If you write all your notes on a computer and then use your iPad for referencing, this won’t be a problem.  But that’s likely not the case, and this is something to consider.

While I haven’t used OneNote or Google Keep extensively, I have used Google Docs, which seems to be another popular online note storage method. The appeal of Google Docs is its alignment to a word processing program. You can type up entire papers, save them with multiple users for coediting, or simply have them in the Web 2.0 ether for ready accessibility. This is a dream for the increasing number of students without printers. It also allows you the flexibility to make folder under folder ad infinitum, a more cumbersome task with Evernote. But there is a reason I have been using Evernote for the majority of my notes and outlines, and Google Docs only for my paper drafts.

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The fluid interface and various tools Evernote offers allows me to take more diverse notes, and track different media elements that would be tricky with Google Docs. The Web Clipper, for instance, ‘clips’ sites you come across that pertain to your interest and store them in your folders for easy access. Because your notes can appear in square thumbnails, previewing what is in them, it’s easier to reference what you were saving. I find this helpful when I am in the beginning stages of writing a paper; having accumulated all my research, it’s an efficient way to skim my resources while I put my draft together.

The Web Clipper also gives you the option of saving the site as an article, a simplified article, full page, bookmark, or screenshot. Then there are ‘Markup’ options so you can make notes on the page to remind you why you clipped it. You can also tag the page, a tool that runs throughout Evernote, which provides subject clouds to pick out themes or find notes from.

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The tagging feature is helpful in quickly amassing related topics, especially for a final paper or research paper where relevant notes could be spread out at various points and in various notebooks. I find this particularly helpful when I have notes from different classes that could strengthen my paper, but that I might not have remembered if they were limited to the notebook they are stored under. If the tags are too broad for you to find the specific parts of the note that relate to your interest, there is a text mining capability in the search bar. If you are writing on ‘modernism,’ but can’t remember which parts of the note are specifically on the topic, you can mine it for the keyword.

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Evernote also allows you to upload photos and videos that could be important to your topic or interests. Storing them among your other notes, instead of a different media file, has a similar benefit as the Web Clipper. They are in sight and easily referenced, making them more likely to be intergraded into your project or paper. However, if thumbnails are aesthetically too chaotic for you there are multiple ways to organize and display your notes. You can reduce the files to just dates and headlines, no images or displays, and place these either at the top of the program or to the side.

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Here is another organization option for your Evernote notebooks and notes

In conclusion, I use Evernote for all note taking: in class, reading notes, attaching preview-highlighted readings, web clipped articles, etc. When it comes to writing papers the format isn’t compatible, I would much rather use Google Docs. If Evernote integrated a space for writing papers in a word processing format, I would be inclined to make the switch over. However, the large number of my peers and professors who use Gmail and Google Docs, and don’t use Evernote, might be an impasse. For now, I will mix the two programs. Evernote is great for researching, outlining, and brainstorming for a paper and Google Docs is better for drafting and editing the paper. I rarely find a need for a paper notebook, and with all the capabilities of Web 2.0, this will become increasingly true. I think there are improvements to be made for Evernote, and look forward to their upgrades.

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Thanks to the copyright laws relating to public domain, it’s fairly easy to find newspaper articles relating to World War I on the internet.  While researching the impact of World War I on Greenwich Village, for example, I found many resources in the New York Times digital archive.  However, while almost all of the paper’s articles since 1851 are available online, there are very few pictures available to accompany the text.  In many cases, older editions of the New York Times didn’t feature many pictures, but in some cases, they were just not included when the article was clipped and scanned.  Line after line of printed words does not make for a very exciting digital archive or web exhibit, though, so I set out to find the missing newspaper photographs.

The first resource I’d like to share is one that was recommended by a classmate of mine: the ProQuest Historical Newspapers Database.  This database contains scanned copies of 25 newspapers, dating back as far as the 1700s.  The New York Times archives from 1851 to 2009 can be found here, just as they can on the New York Times website.  Much like the New York Times archive, ProQuest allows you to view whatever pictures were clipped along with the article.  However, ProQuest also gives you the option to view the article in “Page View.”  This allows you to see the article in context, with all of the articles and pictures that would have surrounded it.  In the regular article view there is no way to know whether an article has pictures or not without doing a lot of “guess and check.”  Sometimes one article on a topic will have no pictures, while a related article right next to it on the page will have accompanying photographs.  Article view, which the New York Times uses exclusively, forces you to look through every article on a given topic to find photographs.  ProQuest’s page view, though, allows you to flip through the pages of a newspaper to find related articles and photos you might have missed with a simple keyword search.

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This is article view: clicking the circled words will access page view instead

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Viewing the same article as above, this time in page view

There is one major disadvantage to ProQuest Historical Newspapers, though.  The database is available by subscription only, which means that grad students like me can enjoy the opportunity to flip through hundreds of years of digitized newspapers, but an independent researcher would have to pay to access this collection.  Also, while the pictures are easier to find than they are on the New York Times website, I still felt that there had to be a better way to find good newspaper photographs from the early 1900s.

One of the best resources that I found for these photographs is the newspaper pictorials collection in the Library of Congress’ American Memory Project.  American Memory is a digital archive of items from the Library of Congress that aims to document the “nation’s memory.”  It includes over 5 million photographs, documents, sound recordings and videos from colonial times through the 20th century.  Some of these items are only available online through the Library of Congress and not through their creators.

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The American Memory homepage

The American Memory site can be browsed by topic, collection or time period, or by doing a general keyword search.  In my case, it was the keyword search that turned up the best results.  I searched for “27th Division,” a unit in the US Army in WWI that was welcomed home with a large parade up Fifth Avenue.  The results were extensive, and very helpful.  Among the long list of articles from the Army’s “Stars and Stripes” newspaper for troops, I found a New York Times result from an entire collection of newspaper pictorials.  Feeling intrigued, I clicked the link to the question and a found a wealth of photographic knowledge at my fingertips!

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Search results for “27th Division”- Newspaper Pictorials results are fourth, sixth and seventh on the list

Pictorial sections became popular features of American newspapers during WWI.  A new process of photoengraving, known as rotogravure, meant that newspapers could produce high quality images on cheap quality paper.  With Americans taking part in their first European war, rotogravure pictorials became a useful way to show the American people on the homefront the harsh realities of the war abroad.  Each Sunday, the New York Times and the New York Tribune would feature a full section of rotogravure images.  The New York Times also published a pictorial section in the middle of the week, and later compiled images from these sections into a book entitled The War of the Nations: Portfolio in Rotogravure Etchings.  This volume included images from the mid-week pictorials published from the start of World War One in 1914 until the signing of the armistice in 1919.

A sample (partial) PDF page from a newspaper pictorial

The Newspaper Pictorials collection in the American Memory Project includes images from this book, as well as those from the Sunday pictorials in the New York Times and the New York Tribune.  The Tribune features a number of hand-drawn images, but the Times has pages of photographs from the war and the homecoming of the troops.  While the newspapers themselves are available online or on microfilm, the difficulty of properly scanning the rotogravure sections has made them difficult to obtain until now.  Thanks to American Memory, though, the images can be clearly viewed online or downloaded as a PDF.  Finally, I had found my missing photographs.

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The Google Books Ngram Viewer is a tool that can be used to make specific searches within Google Books. Unlike searching for a single title in Google Books, using the Ngram Viewer will provide you with actual data and a graph related to your research topic. This will allow you to see a timeline of how frequently or infrequently your research subject appears in Google Books’ massive library.

I realize that this sounds a little daunting, especially for those of us (myself included) who are not statistics wizards. However, the Ngram Viewer can still be used for doing historical research, which is what I’d like to show you how to do. Read on to learn more about this interesting tool:

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Secondary research is always the most daunting aspect of any project for me. There’s the ever looming question of where should I start? Followed by the all important is this a credible source? which ropes in questions of peer review, academic journals, and accessibility. Whenever I’m in the midst of a research project I always do my secondary research first mainly to give me a stronger foundation when I begin primary research and help guide what I should be looking for from key search terms to archives. For all of these reasons, Google Scholar is my best friend when I’m starting any research project. Google Scholar, like its parent search engine, is free to search and relatively easy to use.
For my project in Creating Digital History about the Irisih in Greenwich Village, I figured it would be best to get my feet wet before embarking on the journey through primary documents so I turned to Google Scholar and began searching away. Google Scholar works just like Google. You enter your search term or phrase and have the option of searching articles or legal documents. To get started a searched “Irish in Greenwich Village.” Using the quotation marks refines the result within the search engine so only articles with that phrase will appear. This search only yielded one result, an article entitled “Catholic Greenwich Village: ethnic geography and religious identity in New York City, 1880-1930.” Before clicking on the link for the article I can see the author, the journal where it was published, and its publication date. Additionally, I could see how often the article had been cited, what versions it was able in, and where I could access it from.
Because my first search yielded only a single result a conducted a new search this time for “Irish” “Greenwich Village” which allowed articles containing both terms to appear in the search results. This search yielded nearly 10,000 results including academic articles, citations, and Google books. This more general search produced results about the general history of Greenwich Village, immigration, the Halloween parade and its Irish roots, and St. Joseph’s.
The most problematic aspect of Google Scholar is access to the article. Next to the title it will provide links to where the article can be accessed in full. If the article is not available through a free server or accessible through a library subscription than getting the article can be costly. The same is true for Google books that appear in the search results. But I often find that the search results provide enough information and a detailed preview that you can find the book or the journal elsewhere if you think it’s worthwhile.
The amount of information provide with each search result and the control over searching are why Google Scholar is my default search engine when I’m beginning any project. And with the results produced, I now have enough secondary sources to begin compiling further research about the Irish in Greenwich Village.

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The burning of the Library of Alexandria has been one of the biggest catastrophes in archival history, being that it was the largest depository of documents and materials preserving the ancient world. In today’s media based society many worry that a simple glitch in technology or the outdating of a hardware/software system could have similar consequences. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archives, argues that the very medium of media could actually be its saving grace.

In 1996 Kahle initiated what is now a 10 petabyte operation in the pursuit of “Universal access to all knowledge.”  Based primarily out of California, the Internet Archives relies on a host of web crawlers to continually scan the World Wide Web and collect websites, television shows, articles, and other more obscure sources of information that may one day inform its viewers.  A large part of the Internet Archives are collecting and scanning the millions of physical books to make them largely accessible to the public, the basis of their Open Library. The TV news section allows you to search their archive of television reports by keywords and date range.

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Kahle argues that by allowing the information collected in the archives to be freely accessible, they are in return extending the life expectancy of the material. He posits that it creates an active process of keeping information in use, cared for, and constantly updated. That interest in the materials will allocate interest in its preservation and reformatting. With daily visits by its users averaging at about 500,000, he has the interest to test his theory.

The mission of The Internet Archive is to prevent the destruction of knowledge through incidents such as fire destruction that hit the Library of Alexandria, as well as our own Library of Congress. It is argued that because the Internet Archive shares and duplicates its collection with other institutions, in other counties and political climates, the materials are less likely to be completely destroyed. This holds true for the suspicious that believe the fires were acts of political rebellion as well as those who simply think accidents happen. By creating multi-hosts of the archives they generate and preserve, the authority over their collection, distribution, and destruction becomes more democratized.

I am finding that the Internet Archive is very useful for finding more ‘mundane’ sources that might not be considered worthy of archiving by other institutions. The Wayback Machine is a unique program that lets you see webpages that are no longer existent, or more dated versions. They also have a large collection of videos and audio files that are licensed under creative commons or free access. There is also the Internet Memory Foundation which shares similar ideals and practices.

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Some of the difficulties lie in the fundamental nature of the archive itself, however. It is sometimes hard to sort through the large collection to find a specific material. One of the largest debates about archiving social media, for instance, is what is worth saving. While the Internet Archive take a more liberal stance on the issue, it creates bulk.

There is also the issue of copyright laws prohibiting the collection of certain materials. The Internet Archive allows any user to contact them if they believe their materials have been unlawfully obtained and posted to their site. This limits the material the Archives can distribute. It also, however, takes some of the work out of finding the material yourself and searching for copyright clearance. Knowing that it was posted on the site, gives more confidence that the material may be used again given the sites allegiance to free press.

To learn more, here is a great documentary about the Internet Archives:

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Having trouble finding archives that have the materials you need? ArchiveGrid is a great tool to use if you do not know where to begin your search! It is a free resource that allows the user access to information about different collections and finding aids that any of the participating archives have.

ArchiveGrid Homepage

ArchiveGrid became a free website in 2012, allowing researchers to use its database without subscribing to it, like it had done in the past.  The database contains over two million searchable archival collections. According to the about page on the ArchiveGrid website, it“provides access to detailed archival collection descriptions, making information available about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and other archival materials. It also provides contact information for the institution where the collections are kept.”The website is designed to recognize your current location so that it can best serve your search needs. When you receive your search results, they are ranked by both closest in proximity and the hits that best fits the phrase you searched.

ArchiveGrid is supported by the Online Computer Library Center (also known as OCLC). OCLC is an organization that connects different libraries from all over the world. OCLC also manages the infamous WorldCat, the database that Bobst Library uses to make their catalogues searchable. Like OCLC, ArchiveGrid gives archives and libraries the opportunity to share their collections with the World Wide Web, allowing them to reach out to more people than they could in the past.

For my digital archive and website, I am focusing on St. Vincent’s Medical Center, once located on Greenwich Village on W. 11th Street until its close in 2010. Since this institution is no longer open, I have been searching high and low for all sorts of documents that would be relevant for my research. ArchiveGrid was one of the major tools that I have used and has directed me to different archives that I can utilize.

The ArchiveGrid search bar is at the top right where you can enter any phrase or topic that you would like to search. When I typed in “St. Vincent’s Hospital NYC,” I received 631 results.

Search Results

The website divided its findings into a result list and a result summary. When you click on the “Result Overview” tab, it breaks down the results based on: people, groups, places, archives, archive locations and topics.

Results Overview Page

This is very useful when trying to narrow down the 631 matches that ArchiveGrid provided for me. You can conduct your search from here by choosing a specific topic. The results generated on the “Results Overview” helped me identify different topics about St. Vincent’s that I would like to focus on in my online exhibit. For example I can select the group “Catholic Church,” or the topic “Medicine and Health,” since St. Vincent’s was a Catholic medical center. I can also select narrow my search by the location of the archives.  When I click on New York, I am left with 69 results, much smaller from my first search. The different collections range from oral histories from 9/11 victims who were treated at St. Vincent’s, to the papers of doctors or an AIDS activist videotape collection. Under each collection is a description, if available and the name of the archive that the collection is located. The researcher can than click below that the link for either contact information for the archive or the finding aid for that collection. For example, the 9/11 oral histories are located at Columbia University and I am then directed to their contact us page on their website.

Contact and Collection Information

From here I can browse through their collection and determine if I need to make a visit to their library. I now know that I have the ability to include information on St. Vincent’s significant role after the events of 9/11 into my exhibit as well as any information regarding the AIDS clinic that was established at St. Vincent’s.

ArchiveGrid is a great resource to use if you are looking for archives to go to without having to visit them right away and making any unnecessary trips. It also helps you to be a more efficient researcher as you can go into any archive that you find on ArchiveGrid and know exactly which collection and even which folder you are looking for. For more information on ArchiveGrid and OCLC check out their websites!

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Historypin is a free, interactive, and interesting way to perform historical research. Unlike many digital archives or resources that you may come across in your research, Historypin relies on crowd sourcing for its content. Individuals and organizations from across the globe can sign up and upload their own historical photographs and information. This interactive format (supported by a partnership with Google) provides research opportunities that may otherwise be unavailable.

The goal of Historypin is “…to help people to come together from across different generations, cultures and places, around the history of their families and neighbourhoods, improving personal relations and building stronger communities.” Its founders appear to be achieving this. There is an emphasis on shared learning and community on the website – museums, schools, and archives are all encouraged to participate. This move toward sharing information isn’t going unnoticed. Although Historypin was founded recently (its official launch was in July 2011), it has already received 287,000+ contributions from around the world.

If you want to hear about Historypin from its creators and see a neat video they made, click here. But if you’d like to follow me on my quest for researching the history of the Washington Mews, read on:

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