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Red Cross Month Offers Learning Opportunities

March has been designated as Red Cross Month by every U.S. president since World War II. The American Red Cross is a charitable organization committed to providing care to people in need. The humanitarian organization’s mission is to prevent and relieve suffering. It depends on volunteers and generous donors to support its lifesaving programs and services. March is the perfect time to educate your students about the history of the American Red Cross, the services it provides, and the volunteer opportunities available.

American Red Cross Truck

American Red Cross Truck
By Ibagli (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The American Red Cross was founded on May 21, 1881, in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton. Clarissa Harlowe Barton worked as a school teacher and as a recording clerk at the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. During the Civil War, she provided assistance to the soldiers by bringing them supplies and offering them support. When she visited Europe after the Civil War, Barton was introduced to the global Red Cross network in Geneva, Switzerland. After she returned to the United States, Barton lobbied for an American Red Cross and for U.S. ratification of the Geneva Treaty.  The treaty was signed by President Chester A. Arthur on March 1, 1882, and ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 16, 1882.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton
Mathew Brady [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clara Barton became the first president of the American Red Cross. She led the organization for 23 years. During Barton’s tenure, the American Red Cross conducted its first disaster relief efforts domestically and abroad, cared for American soldiers during the Spanish-American War, and successfully campaigned for the inclusion of relief work in peacetime.

Today, the American Red Cross is focused on five key areas:

Disaster Relief: Every year the American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters in the United States, ranging from home fires to hurricanes. Disaster victims are provided with food, shelter, and health and mental health services.

Lifesaving Blood: The American Red Cross is the “largest single supplier of blood and blood products” in the United States. Every year, approximately 4 million people support the American Red Cross by donating blood, helping to provide over 40% of the nation’s blood supply.

Supporting U.S. Military Families: The American Red Cross assists members of the military, veterans, and their families by helping them plan for, manage, and respond to the unique challenges of military service.

International Services: The American Red Cross provides assistance to disaster victims around the world, invests in disaster preparedness, reconnects families who have been separated by disaster and international war, helps vaccinate children against measles, and educates about international humanitarian law.

Health and Safety Services: The American Red Cross is the leading provider of safety and health courses in the United States. Such courses include CPR, Lifeguard training, and First Aid. Every year, over 9 million Americans take park in the organization’s training programs, including educators, first responders, and babysitters.

Being young is not a barrier to volunteering at the American Red Cross—approximately 25% of the organization’s volunteers are 24 years old or younger. The American Red Cross offers many opportunities for youth to have diverse and new experiences, serve the needs of their communities, and gain leadership skills. Some volunteer opportunities for young people include hosting a blood drive, distributing disaster preparedness information, assembling comfort kits for disaster victims, and fundraising activities.

Students can also start or join a Red Cross Club. Red Cross Clubs give students a chance to connect with their peers while helping their community. Students who volunteer with the American Red Cross are able to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives, maximize their talents, learn life-saving skills, and improve their resumes.

Will you or your students be participating in any activities to celebrate Red Cross Month? Leave us a comment or tweet us using #ProQuest.

To learn more about the American Red Cross, explore these websites available in SIRS Issues Researcher and this ProQuest Research Topic available in eLibrary:

American Red Cross

Clara Barton’s House: Home of the American Red Cross

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Research Topic

A Name You Should Know: Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Most everyone knows Rosa Parks whose courageous action of not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955, helped launch the civil rights movement.  Most people do not know Claudette Colvin who also refused to give up her seat on the bus — nine months before Rosa Parks.

On March 2, 1955, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin remained seated when a white passenger boarded the bus and waited for her to move.  She believed it her constitutional right to sit wherever she chose even though Jim Crow laws of the day dictated otherwise.  She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  Claudette would later say, “I couldn’t get up that day.  History kept me stuck to my seat.  I felt the hand of Harriet Tubman pushing down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth pushing down on the other.”

Claudette Colvin’s arrest provided the spark needed to make a stand and provide a test case to end segregation on city buses.  However, local African-American leadership thought otherwise.  They believed Claudette would be perceived as too militant.  Her image was not the one the movement wanted to cast.  When she became pregnant a few months later, their belief was reinforced.  Instead, Rosa Parks’ similar act of defiance would hasten the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott and lay the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.

Not until many years later would Claudette Colvin become more than just a footnote in history.  Her role is not celebrated, but it is nonetheless pivotal.  In a recent honor, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange called her “an early foot soldier in our civil rights.”  Claudette Colvin stands alongside Rosa Parks — two women, two generations — taking a stand and helping to change history.

It’s National Engineers Week

Engineering is the science by which the properties of matter and the sources of power in nature are made useful to humans in structures, devices, machines, and products. An engineer is an individual who specializes in one of the many branches of engineering.

Engineering and Technical Science, The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference

There has been a lot of talk about in recent years about emphasizing STEM/STEAM in schools to help the U.S. fill jobs in many technical fields. One front in this effort is National Engineers Week, which in 2017 is February 19-25. Quoting from the website of DiscoverE, the organization behind it, National Engineers Week is intended to “Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world; Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers; Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.” The site has activities, videos and other resources to help educators expose students to engineering concepts and career paths.

Engineering Research Topic

Engineering Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Teachers, eLibrary also has you covered. Of course, students and educators can search the database for lots of interesting articles, websites, transcripts and more relating to the various branches of engineering. But we also offer lots of Research Topics on specific topics in the sciences. They can be discovered while searching (look for drop-down lists while typing in search terms–many of the items here will return a Research Topic at the top of the results) and by browsing the list of all RTs. Here is a small sampling of relevant RTs to get your students started in exploring the impact of engineers and considering educational and career paths in the sciences:

Architect
Civil Engineer
Computer Software Engineer
Dams
Electrical Engineer
Engineering
Engineering Technician
Golden Gate Bridge
I-35W Bridge Collapse
Materials Science
Mechanics (Physics)
One World Trade Center
Skyscrapers
Three Gorges Dam

75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066

Executive Order 9066

Executive Order 9066 Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military conducted a bombing raid on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the wake of that attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on February 19, 1942, signed a document that would itself live in infamy and have lasting consequences for Japanese Americans. Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War to prescribe “military areas” which would confine persons who were restricted from living in or traveling to coastal areas, mainly the West Coast of the United States. As a result of the Order, the Western Defense Command began the removal and detention of tens of thousands of residents of Japanese ancestry, mostly from California. (Anti-Asian prejudices had existed in California since the mid-1800s, beginning with Chinese immigrants. Anti-Japanese movements became widespread in California around 1900.) Within six months after FDR signed the Order, some 122,000 men, women and children were involuntarily taken to assembly areas. They were then moved to and confined in relocation centers, or, internment camps, that were isolated, fenced-in behind barbed wire and under military guard.

Japanese-American Internment

Japanese-American Internment Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entire communities of Japanese Americans were uprooted. The U.S. government made no official charges against them, nor could they appeal their relocation and incarceration. Most of those relocated were American citizens. All lost their personal liberties; many lost their homes and personal property. There were ten relocation centers in remote areas in six western states and Arkansas: Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Tule Lake and Manzanar in California; Topaz in Utah; Poston and Gila River in Arizona; Granada in Colorado; Minidoka in Idaho, and Jerome and Rowher in Arkansas. For the next two-and-a-half years, Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment. Several prisoners used the legal system to challenge the government’s actions. Fred Korematsu, a U.S. citizen of Japanese descent, refused to go to an internment camp and was arrested, tried and convicted in federal court. He challenged FDR’s executive order, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices upheld Korematsu’s conviction on the grounds of military necessity.

Grave of Fred Korematsu

Grave of Fred Korematsu [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

These Japanese Americans were not allowed to return to their homes until January 2, 1945. In an ironic twist of history, during the course of World War II, only ten Americans were convicted of spying for Japan, and not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. In 1988, calling the internment of Japanese Americans “a grave wrong,” President Ronald Reagan signed a bill authorizing that each surviving internee receive a check for $20,000 along with an official apology from the United States government.

You can find out more about this important topic in U.S. history by searching eLibrary. Here are just a few related resources:

German- and Italian-American Internment (Research Topic)

Japanese American Internment (Reference Book)

Japanese Canadian Internment (Research Topic)

Racism (Research Topic)

Happy Birthday, Half-Pint!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Today marks the 150th birthday of one of the most widely read American children’s authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Her autobiographical Little House on the Prairie series based on her childhood, published from 1932 to 1943, remains at the top of many a young child’s reading list today.  In the pantheon of children’s literature, the Little House books are considered classics having sold over 60 million copies.

Laura Ingalls was born in the Big Woods of Wisconsin on February 7, 1867.  She was the second child born to Charles and Caroline Ingalls.  Her books reflect her life during the 1870s through 1880s as part of a pioneer family on the move.  At the urging of her daughter, Rose, Laura wrote nine books chronicling the family’s moves from the Big Woods to Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and finally South Dakota.  Her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published in 1932 when Laura was 65.

Little House on the Prairie Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books has been enduring.  In 1954, to honor her enduring contribution to children’s literature, the American Library Association created the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.  Originally awarded every three years to an American author or illustrator, it is now awarded annually to any author or illustrator whose books, like Laura’s, have made a lasting impact in the world of children’s literature.  Perhaps more well known is the Little House on the Prairie television show that ran from 1974-1983.  The show remains popular and  continues in reruns today.

For this writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books played an important part of my childhood and my adult life.  I remember receiving the Little House box set for Christmas at age 9 from my grandparents.  What an exciting gift for a young reader!  My sister and I took turns reading the series.  Little House was weekly viewing for my family and remained so for me in my college years.  My roommate and I would set our schedules around Little House reruns.

Take some time to learn more about this influential writer who died at age 90 in 1957.  Read or re-read the Little House books.  See for yourself why the legacy and impact of Laura Ingalls Wilder endures.

It’s Groundhog Day! How About Some Rodent Facts?

Rodents Research Topic

Rodents Research Topic page via ProQuest eLibrary

It is groundhog day again–it seems like the last one was only yesterday. A few years ago, a colleague did a great post on Groundhog Day itself, so I won’t repeat that here, but I started thinking about rodents (the groundhog is one). Here are a few rodent morsels on which to chew. (Ew, that didn’t sound right.):

Rodents are from the order Rodentia, and they account for around half of all mammal species. (Note about this link: This takes you to the subject browse area of eLibrary. Anything with a yellow star next to it includes a Research Topic page.)

-The word “rodent” comes from Latin word meaning “to gnaw.” This makes sense, considering that their large front teeth and gnawing habit are probably the things that most define them in our minds. They gnaw because those front teeth grow continuously and failure to wear them down would result in death from starvation or impalement of the skull.

-The smallest rodent is the pygmy jerboa, only about an inch long. The largest rodent in the world, currently, is the capybara, but its extinct cousin Josephoartigasia monesi was the largest ever, measuring in at eight feet. And just for the awwwww-factor, here is a picture of two cute baby capybaras with their mother.

-Among the common animals that are mistaken for rodents but are not, are the rabbit and the opossum, which is a marsupial. (Speaking of marsupials, here is a crazy one: the Tasmanian wolf. It became extinct in the 1930s, and scientists had hoped to bring it back through cloning. He sure doesn’t look like a kangaroo.)

-The porcupine IS a rodent, but the similarly spiky hedgehog, which also comes in a furry variety, IS NOT.

-Most rodent species are highly social. In an interesting experiment, a researcher showed that rats show empathy by working to free others from cages.

-While they were once killed in huge numbers for their pelts and to eliminate them as pests, beavers, the second-largest rodents, are becoming respected for the benefits they provide, including erosion prevention, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat and soil enrichment.

-On the other hand, some rodents can carry diseases deadly to humans, including plague and hantavirus.

Search around in eLibrary or browse our thousands of Research Topics pages for information on this topic and just about everything else.

Breaking News: King James I Assassination Plotters Executed!

On January 31, 1606, four men were dragged by horses (drawn) through the streets of London to the place of their execution. One by one, they were hanged by the neck until nearly dead and, while still alive, cut into four pieces (quartered). After having watched the three men before him suffer so horribly, Guy Fawkes was spared the agony by either falling or jumping from the scaffold and breaking his neck.

Fawkes, Robert Catsby, Thomas Percy, Thomas Wintour and John Wright, along with a number of others, had planned to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on the opening day of Parliament in November of 1605. They had hoped that the Gunpowder Plot, as it became known, would spur a revolt that would bring a Catholic monarch back to the throne and end a long period of persecution against Catholics.

Gunpowder Plot RT

Gunpowder Plot Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The conspirators had managed to place 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords, but Fawkes was discovered guarding the powder and the assassination was foiled. Authorities had acted on an anonymous letter that tipped them off to the plan. Fawkes was tortured into giving up his associates, and all were tried and found guilty of treason. Somewhat ironically, the incident only spurred increased pressure on Catholics.

The foiling of the plot was celebrated with an official national holiday until 1859, and the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) on November 5 persists to this day. Traditionally, the revelry included the burning of a Guy Fawkes effigy made from old newspaper-stuffed clothes and a grotesque mask. Children would go through town asking for “a penny for the Guy” to pay for the effigy and for fireworks. The word “guy” eventually entered everyday language, coming to refer to any male person.

Follow the links above to find more information, and be sure to do your own searches in eLibrary to find lots of articles, images, websites and our Research Topics on thousands of subjects.

Alex Haley’s “Roots”: The 40th Anniversary

In January 1977, a miniseries aired on ABC, and it would essentially change the face of television.

“Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” won nine Emmy Awards, as well as a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Research Topic

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an African adolescent who was brought to Colonial America and forced into slavery.

The story was based on what Haley claims to have discovered after conducting research to trace his ancestry.

Alex Haley Research Topic

Alex Haley Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

eLibrary offers a multitude of additional information related to the subject matter of “Roots,” including these Related Topics:

Atlantic Slave Trade

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: African-American History

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Slavery in the U.S.

Slavery

Slavery in the U.S.

Five (or So) Facts About the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

This Friday the 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration will take place at our nation’s capital when Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president. Here are some interesting facts about the history of the ceremony and related events that you may not know.

Inaugural Address:

In his second inaugural address in 1793, George Washington spoke just 135 words, the shortest inaugural address ever given. Juxtapose that with the speech William Henry Harrison gave in 1841. Harrison delivered an 8,495-word speech lasting one hour and forty five minutes in the middle of a snowstorm without a hat or coat. Harrison’s presidency also is known as the shortest. He died a month after the inauguration from complications of pneumonia. Many believed that the long exposure to the elements during his lengthy speech contributed to his death.

Inaugural Celebrations:

The first inaugural ball was held the night after James Madison was sworn into office. A ticket to the ball? It cost just $4, which today would be worth around $60. Tickets to Donald Trump’s inaugural ball are estimated to range from $25,000 to $1,000,000.

As part of Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 presidential inauguration, African Americans were allowed to participate in the inaugural parade for the first time ever.

Inauguration Attendance:

Even though much of this past election was downright rancorous, Barack Obama and Hillary and Bill Clinton are expected to be in attendance at Donald Trump’s inaugural swearing in. At Andrew Jackson‘s first inauguration in 1829, outgoing president John Quincy Adams did not attend. The bitter campaign for president left a bad taste in both men. Jackson blamed offensive verbal attacks by Adams and his supporters for the death of his wife.

The first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 smashed the record for attendance (estimated at 1.8 million) previously held by Lyndon B. Johnson’s second inauguration attendance of 1.2 million in 1965.

Official Day of Inauguration:

Most presidential inaugurations from 1797 to 1933 (John Adams to Franklin Delano Roosevelt) were held on March 4. Since 1933, with a few exceptions, the ceremony has been held on January 20. One reason the inaugurations were held on March 4, prior to 1933, was to give precincts and states time to hand count and deliver all the votes, all with little technological help. The extended period between the election and the day of inauguration also meant an extended lame-duck session in Congress. So in 1933, with a more modern communications and systems of voting, Congress passed the 20th Amendment to establish the new inauguration day of January 20.

When January 20 falls on a Sunday, the official oath is still given on that day, but the ceremony, and another ceremonial oath, takes place on Monday the following day.

Location of the Inauguration:

Thomas Jefferson was the first president inaugurated in Washington, D.C. Jefferson was also the first to be inaugurated at the Capitol building in Washington. Most of the inaugurations were held outside on the eastern front of the building until after Jimmy Carter‘s presidency. Since 1981, beginning with Ronald Reagan‘s presidency, most ceremonies have been held on the spacious west side to accommodate more spectators.

There have been some exceptions to the standard location over the years. For Franklin D. Roosevelt’s final inauguration the ceremony was held in the White House. Roosevelt would die three months later, and Harry Truman would be sworn into office in the Cabinet Room of the White House.

The weather during Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration was so cold (minus 7 degrees) the event had to be moved indoors to the Capitol Rotunda, which was very much unlike his first inauguration in 1981 when the temperature hit 55 degrees.

Lyndon Baines Johnson owns the infamous title of being the only president ever to been sworn into office on board an airplane. Following John F. Kennedy‘s assassination in 1963, Johnson, accompanied by Jackie Kennedy and over 25 other dignitaries, squeezed into the stateroom of Air Force One. As the jet powered up, the oath of office was administered and Johnson became the 36th president. This event also marked the first and only time a woman has administered the presidential oath of office (Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes).

You can find out more about the U.S. presidential inaugurations by exploring eLibrary. Check out eLibrary’s Research Topics browse page or do a basic search of each president, and be sure to check out the page on Presidential Inaugurations.

Here are more resources:

ProQuest Research  Topics:
American Presidency
Presidential Inauguration
U.S. Congress
U.S. Constitution

Other Resources:
U.S. Capitol Overview (KRT Interactive, eLibrary)
U.S. Presidential Inaugurations: a Web Guide (Library of Congress)

 

90th Anniversary of “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”

The Bridge of San Luis Rey Research Topic

The Bridge of San Luis Rey Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” That is the opening line of Thornton Wilder’s 1927 novel, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” Makes you want to read more, does it not? In Wilder’s story, five people were walking on a century-old Inca rope bridge, a bridge which many in Peru thought would never collapse. Well, collapse it did, killing the five people who were walking across. The incident was witnessed by a Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, who began to wonder if the accident occurred due to a divine plan, or if it was simply a random tragedy. His curiosity led him to investigate the lives of the five victims in order to prove that God intended those people to die together at that moment in time. After his research, he wrote an enormous book about the subject that was found to be heretical by the Church, resulting in both Brother Juniper and his book being burned in a town square. But, in a creative device used by Wilder, one copy of the monk’s book survived, which is supposedly the basis of the novel.

Thornton Wilder Research Topic

Thornton Wilder Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

A year after “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” was published, Wilder wrote to a friend: “It seems to me that my books are about: what is the worst thing that the world can do to you, and what are the last resources one has to oppose it. In other words: when a human being is made to bear more than human beings can bear—what then? . . . The Bridge asked the question whether the intention that lies behind love was sufficient to justify the desperation of living.” What makes Wilder’s book the enduring novel it is has everything to do with the questions it poses about our purpose on Earth. It begins as a book about truth, and ends as a book about love. The end of the novel goes as follows: “But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

The year 2017 marks the 90th anniversary of Thornton Wilder’s novel. Even after all this time, it is still read in many high schools, often assigned along with a reading of Wilder’s play “Our Town.” The novel has appeared on TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 best novels since 1923, and it ranked 37 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century. I recommend blocking off a few hours this year (the novel is very short: I remember my brother’s copy was around 125 pages) to read Wilder’s excellent story. And while you are at it, please use eLibrary to brush up on Thornton Wilder and his other famous works.

Trivia:

Thornton Wilder was the winner of three Pulitzer Prizes: for his novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” (1928); for his play “Our Town” (1938) and for the play “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1942).

The Bridge of San Luis Rey” has been filmed three times: in 1929, 1944 and in 1994. The latest version starred Robert De Niro, F. Murray Abraham, Kathy Bates and Harvey Keitel.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair quoted from the novel when he was giving his remarks after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

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