Philadelphia’s Waterfront Wobblies

ourbigunion.jpgOn April 17, after visiting the Temple Book Club to discuss his new book Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive Era Philadelphia (University of Illinois Press, 2007), author Peter Cole was interviewed by librarian Fred Rowland. In the interview, he provides a fascinating look at Progressive Era Philadelphia, an industrial dynamo of American capitalism whose busy port along the Delaware River gave rise to a successful interracial multiethnic union (IWW Local 8) that was able to overcome employer resistance to control work on the docks from about 1913 to the early 1920’s. While discussing Local 8 and its unique success in bringing together white Protestant, black, and immigrant Catholic and Jewish longshoremen, he talks about the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)and their relationship to the rest of American labor, the nature of work on the docks, local labor and race relations, the effects of World War I and Bolshevik Revolution on the port of Philadelphia and the IWW, as well as lessons to be learned from Local 8’s rise and fall.  If you’re interested in Philadelphia history, you’ll like this interview.

 (MP3, 20 minutes)

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For a brief overview of the Industrial Workers of the World, go here (Temple-only).

The Teaching Professor

The Libraries have recently acquired a site license to The Teaching Professor, an online newsletter designed to assist faculty with the practical side of teaching. The Teaching Professor helps instructors to:

  • Overcome obstacles to effective teaching
  • Stay abreast of the latest pedagogical research
  • Hear what’s working for colleagues “in the trenches”
  • Hone skills and stay on top of teaching innovations
  • Truly connect with students

Here’s an excerpt from an article titled Faculty Self-Disclosures in the College Classroom from the April, 2007 issue: “While interviewing university faculty for a study about classroom communication, ‘Jim,’ a professor of history, made this comment about a colleague he had observed teaching: ‘I was really amazed, when I saw him teach, how little of his personality you see.’ This starkly contrasted with his perception of his own teaching style, about which he said, ‘I try to use humor a lot. My dad says I just think funny, you know, and I do; it’s hard for me not to joke around.’ This comment started me wondering about how much of ourselves we let our students see.”

The articles in The Teaching Professor are brief and to the point. Worth a look.

David C. Murray

New Platform for ABC-CLIO Databases

The two ABC-CLIO databases, America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts, are now available on the familiar EBSCOhost platform. Advantages of having these core history databases on Ebsco include multiple database searching; easy linking to full-text databases such as JSTOR; personalized folders, a part of My EBSCOhost, for those who choose to create personalized accounts; the Historical Period Limiter, a way to find articles that discuss an event or events that occurred within a specific time frame; and a new cited reference search encompassing both databases. This last feature can be used in conjunction with Web of Science to more accurately gauge the importance to the field of history of any refereed journal article. —David C. Murray

Featured Database: Gale Virtual Reference Library

Temple News reporter recently asked me about underutilized library resources. She wanted to know which resources, if more widely known, would have the greatest positive impact on students’ research. At first I thought about JSTOR,Periodicals Archive Online, and other high-profile journal databases. After some additional thought I began to realize that another category of resources receives far too little attention in today’s research environment. I’m talking about general reference material — scholarly encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, statistical sources, and bibliographies. After all, finding reliable background information — a primary purpose of reference works — is absolutely critical to good research. Temple subscribes to several databases that provide digital versions of traditional encyclopedias and other reference sources. Among these databases are ABC-CLIO eBooksCambridge CompanionsCredo Reference (formerly xreferplus), Gale Virtual Reference LibrarynetLibrary Reference CenterOxford Reference OnlineReference Universe, and Sage eReference.

For history researchers, each of these databases has something to offer. Here I will highlight the Gale Virtual Reference Library, a database that provides full-text access to twenty history reference works, including these four noteworthy titles:

Encyclopaedia Judaica.jpg
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Provides an exhaustive and organized overview of Jewish life and knowledge from the Second Temple period to the contemporary State of Israel, from Rabbinic to modern Yiddish literature, from Kabbalah to Americana and from Zionism to the contribution of Jews to world cultures, Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd edition is important to scholars, general readers and students.
European Social History.jpg
Encyclopedia of European Social History: This six-volume reference includes more than 230 articles, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 words, on everything from serfdom and the economy, to witchcraft and public health.
Modern Middle East.jpg
Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa: The set covers the modern history of the Middle East and North Africa, with major sections on Colonialism and Imperialism, the World Wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United Nations involvement in the region. Each country in the region is reviewed, detailing its population, economy and government.
History of Ideas.jpg
New Dictionary of the History of Ideas: A six-volume survey of the history of Western thought and culture, presented through 700 alphabetically arranged entries. Each entry explores the origin, cultural interpretations, and historical themes of such subjects as beauty, love, feminism, diversity, and social capital, among many others.

David C. Murray

New Database Trial – Making of Modern Law: Trials 1600-1926

This digital collection contains books and pamphlets, official and unofficial trial documents and materials, legal transcripts, administrative proceedings, and arbitrations. The collection covers trials from all countries and languages, although the great majority are English-language and published in the U.S. or Great Britain. Documents are in PDF format and are fully searchable.

This is a trial sponsored by the Law Library. I’d be interested to know if historians and other social scientists find it useful.

David C. Murray


JSTOR is the premier scholarly journal database. It is a full-text, interdisciplinary archive of only the most highly respected journal titles. By comparison, ABC-CLIO’s two scholarly databases — America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts— seem to be less frequently used, even by historians. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that JSTOR provides direct access to the full-text, full-page image of all articles in the database. Consider, however, the following advantages of the ABC-CLIO databases:

1) America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts between them index over a thousand scholarly journals, including 65 of the 72 history titles available in JSTOR. A researcher using the ABC-CLIO databases will thus find nearly all citations to JSTOR articles and thousands of additional citations not available in JSTOR.

2) The Libraries’ new TUlink service enables two- or three-click access to the full-text of thousands of articles indexed by America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts. This means that JSTOR’s previous “full-text advantage,” described above, no longer holds.

3) Citations to articles in America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts contain human-generated subject headings; JSTOR’s article citations do not. Why does this make a difference? A researcher using the ABC-CLIO databases could perform a subject search for “Gates, Horatio,” easily finding all 34 citations to articles about the Revolutionary War general. This type of search simply cannot be done in JSTOR.

4) JCR Online assesses the impact of scholarly journals on various academic disciplines. The higher a journal’s “impact factor” the more important that journal is within its discipline. Between them, the two ABC-CLIO databases index all sixteen journals identified by JCR Online as having the highest impact factors in History. These journals are: Environmental HistoryAmerican Historical Review,Journal of American HistoryJournal of Modern HistorySocial Science History,Past & PresentJournal of African HistoryComparative Studies in Society & HistoryJournal of Social HistoryJournal of Interdisciplinary HistoryHistory Workshop JournalInternational Review of Social HistoryEthnohistoryJournal of the History of SexualityZeitgeschichte, and Mouvement Social. JSTOR indexes only twelve of these same sixteen “high impact” history journals.

It certainly is not my objective to sour anyone on the use of JSTOR, which by any measure is a stellar scholarly resource. The point of this post is rather to say that both databases have much to recommend them. The choice of which to use ultimately depends upon the individual needs and preferences of the researcher. A comprehensive history article search will likely require the use of both.

Do you have a favorite history database?

David C. Murray

The Greatest Invention

Has any human achievement topped the invention of writing? Without it History, defined as “all that is remembered of the past as preserved in writing,” couldn’t exist. And neither could libraries. As Margaret Atwood states in the first episode of the Writing Code, a new 3-part series about the evolution of writing now airing on WHYY: “Writing is a code. It is the making of marks. You then have to understand that these marks can be retranslated into speech.” Uniquely among the many different systems of visual signification, writing captures spoken language. Writing appears to have evolved independently in as many as five locations around the world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, China, and Mesoamerica. Early writing served several functions. Among the Sumerians writing developed as an accurate method of keeping accounts; for the Maya its primary purpose was to aggrandize the institution of kingship. No matter what its purpose, writing transformed every society that it touched. The following books tell the story of how three of the world’s earliest writing systems — Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphics, as well as Sumerian cuneiform — were deciphered by modern scholars.

Breaking the Maya Code by Michael D. Coe, c1992
The Invention of Cuneiform: Writing in Sumer by Jean-Jacque Glassner, c2003
The Story of Writing by Andrew Robinson, c1995

The next time you find yourself struggling through 200 pages of assigned reading for an Anthro, History, Poly Sci, Psych, or other college course, remember those long-ago geniuses who invented writing, without whom none of it would be possible!

David C. Murray

Significant History Acquisitions, FY 2006-2007

The following recaps the more significant history-related acquisitions in the just-ended fiscal year of 2006-2007:

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (1801-1900) – HCPP is perhaps the most important electronic resource acquired for the History Department in FY 06-07. “The House of Commons Parliamentary Papers are vital to the historical record of Britain, its former Colonies and the wider world. They are among the richest and most detailed primary sources for the history of the past two centuries, and are fundamental to an understanding of current legislation, policy making and the political environment. HCPP online, with searchable full text, and detailed subject indexing, makes it possible to fully exploit the enormous potential of this resource for the first time” (HCPP About). HCPP does not include Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, which are available in printed form from the Library Depository. For more information about content and coverage see the Guide to Parliamentary Papers.

Periodicals Index Online (PIO) – Formerly known as Periodicals Contents Index / PCI, “Periodicals Index Online is an electronic index to millions of articles published in over 5,000 periodicals in the humanities and social sciences. . . It is unique in combining a broad subject base with deep chronological coverage going back over 300 years” (ProQuest About – Periodicals Index Online). The database indexes many European foreign language journals. For full-text access to over 450 of the titles indexed in Periodicals Index Online, explore the complementary database Periodicals Archive Online (PAO). The over 130 full-text history titles in PAO can be accessed by clicking on “Find Journals” from the homepage, then on “Find Journals by Subject”; a right-hand column will display a list of subjects, including “History (General) [94 journals]” and “History (The Americas) [37 journals]”

British Periodicals Online (Collection I) – This database consists of full-text access to approximately 160 journal titles published between the late 17th and early 20th centuries. It covers topics as diverse as history, literature, philosophy, science, and the fine arts. British Periodicals can be searched in tandem with hundreds of additional journal backfiles via the aforementioned Periodicals Archive Online. Researchers can also use the online Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals (part of C19) to link directly into full-text content in both British Periodicals and Periodicals Archive. “Crucially, the addition of attribution information from the Wellesley Index makes it possible to search for instances of a word or phrase in a given author’s contributions to periodicals even where these originally appeared unsigned or over a pseudonym” (ProQuest About – British Periodicals).

Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) – This is the online version of the longstanding printed DDRS. The database currently contains over 78,000 post-WWII declassified documents that originated with the National Archives and U.S. executive branch agencies. The DDRS complements the Digital National Security Archive (DNSA), a similar Temple database containing over 63,000 declassified federal government documents. Though similar in purpose, each of these databases is unique. DNSA is a thematic database that focuses on 29 important events in post-WWII U.S. history (e.g. Cuban Missile Crisis, Iran-Contra Affair, the First Gulf War, etc.). DDRS, on the other hand, contains a much broader collection of materials. Important social and domestic issues are covered. DDRS also provides access to non-U.S. declassified documents from NATO. A minor difference between the two databases is the manner of release and provenance of the documents available. Many of the documents found in DDRS were originally requested by researchers via NARA’s network of presidential libraries. Many DNSA documents, on the other hand, came to light as the result of executive branch compliance with the 1966 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

African American Newspapers: The 19th Century (Part XI) – Part XI of this popular and important database includes full-text coverage of The Christian Recorderfrom January 1894 to December 1898. A full-page image upgrade is promised soon.

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae – This database contains virtually all Greek texts surviving from the period between Homer (8th century BCE) and CE 600, as well as the majority of surviving works up to the fall of Byzantium in CE 1453. Note: A polytonic Greek font must be installed on your computer in order to view some texts. With some browsers, you may also be able to input your search in Greek; with others, you may have to input Beta Code or Latin Transliteration. Extensive information about font requirements is available at the TLG website.

The Papers of W.E.B. DuBois – This set consists of 83 microfilm reels of the correspondence of W.E.B. DuBois, one of the most prominent early figures for African-American liberation. Coverage dates range from 1877 to 1965. For information about content see ProQuests’s collection description.

David C. Murray

LGBT History

The Libraries have acquired on microfilm The Lesbian Herstory Archives, part 7 of the Gay Rights Movement. This collection consists of a full 150 reels of primary-source material along with a 73-page printed collection guide. Media types represented include “clippings, flyers, brochures, conference materials, reports, correspondence, and other printed ephemera”. The earliest documents date to the 1950s and the era of the Daughters of Bilitis organization. Additional information about the nature of the collection is available from the LHA website.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives complements existing primary-source printed and digital collections such as the Gerritsen Collection and Women and Social Movements. It also complements GenderWatch and the new-to-Temple LGBT Life, two databases that index journal articles and other secondary sources. LGBT Life in particular contains indexing and abstracts for more than 130 LGBT-specific core periodicals and over 290 LGBT-specific core books and reference works. It also includes comprehensive, full-text coverage of The Advocate (1996 to date) and other important LGBT publications.

David C. Murray