Thursday, November 05, 2009

History Computerization Project

The History Computerization Project aims to create a network for exchanging historical information. The site includes details about the computer database program for historical research, writing and cataloging; advice on organizing materials; and links to mostly-US research resources.

From the site:

The program is used by individual researchers as well as by institutions such as archival centers, libraries, museums, historical societies, historical landmark commissions, and preservationist groups. Single-user and multi-user versions, running on IBM PC compatible computers, bridge the gap between the researcher and repository, allowing them to exchange data easily.

History Database was designed for use by organizations and individuals at the lowest possible levels of computer experience. The program presents on the screen all of the information that a novice will need. Easy data entry, editing, and searching are accomplished by filling in a form or making choices from a menu. Searching with a menu or by example eliminates the need to learn search commands. Sound searching retrieves names with variant spellings. While adding, editing, or browsing data you can flag records to pick up later as easily as putting an adhesive tab on a file folder.

Ready-made data entry forms allow you to start immediately, with help messages to explain the intended usage for each field. You can easily choose which of the fields provided you want to use, and in what order. Or you can construct new fields and forms.

Default choices eliminate 50-90% of the typing for data entry. The program determines the most likely entry and offers to you as an initial choice, for you to accept or to change. Many fields are filled in automatically. Others re-use data entered previously.

Variable-length fields give you as much room as you need and avoid wasted disk space. The data entry form changes dynamically on the screen to expand a field. Any field can stretch over many screen pages. All fields are searchable with or without indexing.

For research and writing, never waste time re-typing data from note cards to manuscript again. Instead pull your research notes from the database into your word processor in first draft manuscript form, with footnotes and bibliography created automatically.

History Database provides fully relational database management. It relates and combines data from several files, rather than repeating the same information. It offers 25 varieties of global search and replace, to correct past mistakes or to change the content, structure, or format of old data. Individual values within a field, such as the names of people or organizations, can be searched and replaced as separate entities. A researcher can recycle information from one project to the next, using past research as a business uses its inventory. In a repository, those with more knowledge can quickly correct the work of those with less.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

OZ Fossils: The Age of Reptiles

I discovered a nice site on pre-historic Australian fossils. It is The Eromanga Sea - OZ Fossils: The Age of Reptiles. Readers can learn about the Pliosaurs and Plesiosaurs, Ichthyosaurs, Ammonites, and Beleminites that lived in the shallow sea that covered inland Australia ten million years ago.

From the site:

About one hundred and ten million years ago a shallow sea covered what is now arid inland Australia. Australia’s most beautiful and complete fossils of this period are of the spectacular marine creatures that lived in this cold sea.

Despite the impressive size of some of these fossils, they are not called dinosaurs, but marine reptiles. In some cases their bones have turned into precious opal. They are beautiful and very valuable specimens. Three main types of marine reptile used to live in the Eromanga Sea.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Smithsonian Urban Legends

With permission, I am republishing the post Smithsonian Urban Legends written by Jennie Weber. I think it is interesting and worth publishing again.
Smithsonian Magazine had an article on urban myths (to refute) them recently. My personal favorite:

Myth #8: There is a subterranean archive center underneath the National Mall.

Fact: The Smithsonian’s storage facilities are mostly located in Suitland, Maryland.

Backstory: The notion that a labyrinthine network of storage space exists beneath the Smithsonian museums, under the National Mall, may have started with Gore Vidal’s novel The Smithsonian Institution and was most recently popularized by the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Unfortunately, no such storage facility is to be found. The archive center depicted in the film is based on the Smithsonian’s storage facilities in Suitland, Maryland. However, there is a staff-only accessible underground complex of passageways that connect the Freer, the Sackler, the Castle, the African Art Museum, the International Gallery and the Arts and Industries Building.

There is also a tunnel that connects the Castle with the Museum of Natural History. Built in 1909, it is technically large enough to walk through; however, a person has to contend with cramped spaces, rats and roaches. A quick jaunt across the National Mall is the preferred means of traveling between the two museums.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mirador: Forgotten Mayan City

Mirador: Forgotten Mayan City - New discoveries in the Guatemalan jungle may rewrite Mayan history. See Brooke Baldwin's exclusive report for CNN.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

World History Blog Poll - Should Yasser Arafat have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994?

The poll has closed for the question, "Should Yasser Arafat have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994?" Thanks to all who participated by voting.

The answer was no for 74%. Yes got 10% while 14% were not sure.

It is a tough question. At my junior high school, bullies were often given "student of the week" awards when they did something like pick up trash. The idea was that this would motivate them to continue to do good deeds. Did it work with Arafat? Hard to say. I am sure middle east historians will argue this one forever depending on what side they back.