Monthly Archives: March 2019
By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian
Originally published September 12, 2014
You’ve started your family genealogy, and zipped right through the first few generations using census records on Ancestry.com. Great! Then the inevitable happens – you hit a brick wall. Great-great-Grandma or Grandpa seems to simply disappear off the face of the Earth! Now what? It’s time to take a closer look at the census records you’ve already used, and look at those nosy neighbors.
It’s always worth bearing in mind that census records were compiled by a (sometimes very) fallible human being walking door to door, knocking, and asking “who lives here?”. If you stay aware of this fact, you won’t make the mistake of assuming that because a name is spelled a particular way, in must not be Grandpa Stephen, because he spelled his name with a “v”. If the census taker heard “Gavin”, he might have written “Gavin” on the census. If, on the other hand, he heard “Caffin”, that’s what he’ll write (I’ve seen it happen!). And if the name was even slightly exotic, be it French, German, Italian, Swedish, etc. – forget about it! I am often tempted to believe that to be hired as a Federal census taker prior to 1900, applicants had to pass a grueling exam, where only the most hard-of-hearing, sloppiest penmanship, and poorest spellers passed. I can’t prove this, but I have my suspicions.
The other reason it’s worth remembering this door-to-door-knocking fact, is that it means all of the families listed above and below the family you’re researching were next door neighbors. This can be tremendously helpful! For one reason, youthful betrothed tended to marry the guy or girl next door, or a couple of houses down, or the next street over. If you can find great grandpa while he was single in the census records, you can very often find great grandma’s family on the next page or sometimes even living next door.
Another reason this is useful is because families during certain periods tended to move in groups. The Johnsons moved from North Carolina to Kentucky to Tennessee with the Smith family, for example. And along the way, sons might marry daughters. You never know how little clues like this might help you break through your brick wall. As an example, I found a house full of my ancestors in the 1880 census, along with a very elderly lady by a different last name of Hollingsworth. Continuing my line yielded a few more results, but I eventually hit the familiar brick wall. This was solved eventually not by researching my family name, but by tracing the Hollingsworths, and looking at their neighbors. And sure enough, I found a family of Hollingsworths living next door to some Gavins in 1850, which filled in the gap I was looking for and allowed me to plow headlong into the next brick wall on the Gavin line.
Paying attention to occupations and nationalities of neighbors can also lend some context to the history and kind of location your ancestors were in as well. Was everybody a farmer? This might indicate a poor rural location. Is there evidence for industry? Do you see blacksmiths or railroad workers clustered in the neighborhood? Were the majority of the neighbors German or Irish, or did they speak languages other than English? This might give a clue as to your ancestor’s nationality. What was the average age of people in the community? An extreme lack of elderly individuals might indicate the area was fairly newly established, whereas a uniform lack of young men of certain age might indicate heavy recruitment for a war.
Like so much in genealogy, the smallest, most overlooked clues can lead to big breakthroughs with a little patience and diligence.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
This year marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s moon landing. As we start looking at the last fifty years of space exploration, we also want to celebrate the history of women in space as well. According to NASA, by 2017 a total of 59 different women, including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists, and foreign nationals, have flown in space. And seeing as history has recently provided us with a new first for women in space, let’s take a look at some of the previous ones. Granted, the history of women in space only reaches 50 years if we add in the accomplishments of the Soviet Union.
The first woman is space was a Russian. Valentina Tereshkova was the pilot of the Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963 and she was 26 at the time of her flight. She orbited the earth 48 times and manually brought the shop out of orbit. She had been a textile worker and loved skydiving, which definitely helped her since the capsule was propelled into space by an intercontinental ballistic missile. (!) And after returning to earth atmosphere, she ejected herself from the capsule and came down to earth using a parachute (her own parachute.) Wow!
Sally Ride became the first woman (and pilot) for the United States to fly in space. She chose space over a professional tennis career and went to space during space shuttle Challenger’s inaugural mission in 1983. That’s a long time to wait for a woman to go to space! Thankfully, Sally Ride was up to the challenge.
In 1984, Svetlana Savistkaya, was the first female to perform a spacewalk. She spent almost 4 hours cutting and welding metals outside the Salyut 7 space station. She had a second record as well—this was her second mission, making her the first woman to go to space twice.
Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go to space. She had completed her medical degree and applied to NASA in 1983 and was asked to join in 1987, after serving in the Peace Corps. She flew in 1992, working on bone cell research in space. She also holds 9 honorary doctorates!
Helen Patricia Sharman was the first woman to fly in space as a result of a newspaper ad for “Astronaut wanted – no experience necessary,” as well as the first British astronaut. The advertisement was for a private space programme called Project Juno, where a consortium was formed to raise money to pat the Soviet Union for a seat on a mission. She stayed a week at Russia’s space station Mir in 1991. She was also the first non-American, non-Soviet astronaut.
Chiaki Mukai, a physician, became the first Japanese woman to enter space as an astronaut with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. She had two trips, in 1994 and 1998, which made her the first Japanese woman to travel to space twice; she also helped support the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Eileen Collins, a New York native, was a pilot at Vance Air Force Base before being assigned to the US Air Force Academy. In 1990, she was selected by NASA to become an astronaut, and became the first female Shuttle Pilot in 1995 on a mission that involved a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir. She went on to become the first female commander of a US Spacecraft with Shuttle mission. She retired in 2006 after having completed four missions.
Anousheh Ansari is an Iranian-born American who had a background in aeronautical engineering and computer science. She was able to train as a backup for the first spaceflight mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which was headed up by a private company. In 2006, she was elevated to the prime crew, making her the first female space tourist. She hopes to inspire everyone – especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men – to not give up their dreams and to pursue them.
Karen Nyberg’s second mission was on the 50th anniversary of Valentina Tereskova’s first mission (2013). Karen is considered the first American mother in space—(perhaps that might be mother of young children?) She is also training in deep-sea training and simulation exercise at the Aquarius underwater laboratory which hopes to prepare astronauts for missions to the moon and Mars.
Samantha Cristoforetti went to space in 2014 and returned to earth in 2015 and so is the most recent woman to have returned from space. She has a number of firsts, which is perfect for this list. She is she the first Italian woman to have entered space as a part of the Futura mission to ISS. She also holds the record for longest single space flight by a woman–199 days and 16 hours–and the record for the longest uninterrupted flight by a European astronaut.
And finally, for the first time in history, an all female crew will perform a spacewalk at the International Space Station. The crew will consist of astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch who will complete the walk on March 29, lead flight controller Jackie Kagey, and lead flight director Mary Lawrence.
P.S. – This year our Summer Reading Program theme is “A Universe of Stories” and we will be having programs about space, including movies and guest speakers and so much more. Stay Tuned!!!
- Almost heaven: the story of women in space by Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles (629.45 KEV)
- Galaxy girls: 50 amazing stories of women in space by Libby Jackson (YA 629.450092 JAC)
- Hidden figures: the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race by Margot Lee Shetterly (510.9252 SHE)
- Rise of the rocket girls: the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt (269.4072 HOL)
- Rocket girl: the story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s first female rocket scientist by George D. Morgan (B MORGAN)
- The glass universe: how the ladies of the Harvard Observatory took the measure of the stars by Dava Sobel (522.1974 SOB)
- When we left Earth: the NASA missions (DVD 629.45 WHE)
- The Mercury 13: the untold story of thirteen American women and the dream of space flight by Martha Ackmann (629.45 ACK)
By Chelsea Bennett, Reference Department
“To me, art begets art,” wrote Susan Vreeland, author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue. “Painting feeds the eye just as poetry feeds the ear, which is to say that both feed the soul.”  If you’ve choreographed an impromptu dance routine while listening to a favorite song, for example, or illustrated a beloved poem in watercolor, then you’ll know what she meant.
Sometimes those creative links span decades and genres. Who could have guessed that an “art pop” song based on the plot of a gothic tragi-romance would sweep the music charts in 13 countries and both hemispheres? But that’s exactly what happened when teenaged English artist Kate Bush released her first single, “Wuthering Heights,” in 1978.  That song – and its gloriously, theatrically, beautifully weird music video – has been running through my head for weeks, so I decided to find some more examples of popular music based on literature.
Countless acts, from Radiohead to Dead Kennedys to Stevie Wonder, have found inspiration in George Orwell’s 1984. David Bowie even aspired to produce a musical based on the dystopian novel. Orwell’s widow denied Bowie the rights, but some of the songs ended up on his Diamond Dogs album (“1984,” “Big Brother,” “We Are the Dead”). [3, 4, 5]
Musicians mine Middle Earth – the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, among other stories – for ideas, as well. Led Zeppelin indulged their Hobbital tendencies in such classics as “Ramble On,” “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” and “The Battle of Evermore.” Rush, Genesis, and Nickel Creek are some other acts who’ve referenced Bilbo et al. Comedy nerdcore duo Lords of the Rhymes exists solely to rap about Sauron and such. The fantasy epics are a favorite of metalheads, too: Blind Guardian, Summoning, Battlelore, Isengard, and Rivendell lead the way in the “Tolkien metal” genre. (Yes, that’s a thing.) [6, 7, 8, 9] But may we never forget the gold standard when it comes to Tolkien-related songs: Leonard Nimoy’s “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” (Trust me: that video is a lot to take in, but you have to watch it.)
Many of the literary songs I’ve come across are much more subtle about their inspirations. Some of them quite surprised me, in fact. Listen to a few tracks from this list and see if you can figure out the connections for yourself. Then, check the links at the end of this post to read more about their bookish origins. And if you’re interested in books that were inspired by famous songs, check out this blog post.
ABBA, “The Piper” (The Stand by Steven King)
- Alt-J, “Breezeblocks” (Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak)
- The Beatles, “Tomorrow Never Knows” (The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert)
- Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kwali), “Thieves in the Night” (The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison)
- Kate Bush, “Flower of the Mountain” (Ulysses by James Joyce)
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Red Right Hand” (Paradise Lost by John Milton)
- Chance the Rapper, “Same Drugs” (Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)
- Devo, “Whip It” (Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon)
Celine Dion (but really Meat Loaf), “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë)
- Manic Street Preachers, “Motorcycle Emptiness” (Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton)
- Neutral Milk Hotel, “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” (The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank)
- Katy Perry, “Firework” (On the Road by Jack Kerouac)
- REM, “Disturbance at the Heron House” (Animal Farm by George Orwell)
- The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil” (Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)
- The Roots, “Act Won (Things Fall Apart)” (Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe)
- The Strokes, “Soma” (Brave New World by Aldous Huxley)
- T’Pau, “China in Your Hand” (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)
- U2, “Shadows and Tall Trees” (Lord of the Flies by William Golding)
References and Further Reading:
- 1 – https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/susan_vreeland_726633
- 2 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuthering_Heights_(song)#Chart_performance
- 3- https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/02/10-songs-inspired-by-george-orwells-1984.html
- 4 – https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2016/may/20/10-songs-inspired-by-literature
- 5 – http://www.openculture.com/2016/04/david-bowie-dreamed-of-turning-george-orwells-1984-into-a-musical.html
- 6 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_inspired_by_J._R._R._Tolkien#Rock_music
- 7 – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/top-10-the-hobbit-lord-of-the-rings-songs/
- 8 – http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Category:Bands
- 9 – http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Tolkien_metal