Christina James: Bioscience and Natural Resources Library

April 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library is located in the Valley Life Science Building and is open Monday through Thursday 9 am- 10 pm, Friday 9 am- 5pm, Saturday 1- 5 pm, and Sunday 1- 10 pm. The library is open to anyone and houses books, print journals, microfilm/fiche, CDs and DVDs, maps, cookbooks, rare books, and reference collections. The library’s strengths are Micro-Cellular Biology, Integrative Biology, Plant Biology Environmental Science and Policy, Agriculture, Resource Economics, and Energy. In total, the library has 542,000 volumes.

For historians, this library actually has a lot of promising sources. There is a wealth of secondary and primary sources on the history of medicine, and the history of agriculture and agricultural labor, environmental history, the history of science, or the history of food and drink. For my research, I found an entire row of shelves on Western land policy, and the management of public land in the United States that I’ve begun to explore.

Here’s a small sampling of a few of the history based books one can check out of this library (titles and call numbers):
A Modern History of the Stomach: Gastric Illness, Medicine, and British Society, 1800-1950
RC816 .M55 2011
The History and Social Influence of the Potato
SB211.P8 S2551 1985
Feast or Famine: Food and Drink in American Westward Expansion
GT2853.U5 H67 2008
The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 1500-1989
HD9195.A3512 G58 2003

The library catalog is searchable on OskiCat and a reference librarian is available Monday through Friday, 10- noon and 1- 5 pm. Additionally, I found the library to be a great place to study as there is a lot of seating, tables, cubicles, computers, and outlets!

Christina James: Visual Resource

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week I searched for visual resources on Library of Congress American Memory collection of images. I was interested in finding some advertisements for land in the west, so I searched “land” in the collection “The Emergence of Advertising in America.”

I found this really interesting advertisement for open land in Nebraska. I was particularly struck by the bold “Lands for the Landless! Homes for the Homeless!” text, as well as the characterization of the American government as “generous” in the poster. I wasn’t able to find any advertisements in the image collection which were purely images without text, but I think the way the text is displayed on the poster gives some insight into the movement West, homesteading, etc.

Christina James: Sources for Dominic

March 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hi Dominic,

I’m not very familiar with your topic, but I was able to come across a lot of very recent publications on land grabs in the developing world. I used the online journals database, searched by subject, and found the Elsevier Geography database. Just by searching “land grabs” I found many recent articles that seemed related to your topic. Because I don’t know too much about the topic, I didn’t have as much success with other keyword searches. I’m not sure if you’re planning on focusing your research on a certain region where land grabs have occurred, but I found two articles on Africa that look promising. The first, “Rice Land Grabs Undermine Food Sovereignty in Africa” published by a non-profit called GRAIN, looks into the role of African governments in selling land to foreign companies and/or exporting products, in this case, rice, even in the face of food shortages in their own countries.

Here is the link to the article information:
You can find the full article here:

A second article I found is “Agricultural Investment and International Land Deals: Evidence from a Multi-Country Study in Africa.” I wasn’t able to find the full text of the article, but based on the abstract, it seemed like it contained information relevant to your research.

The link:

Hopefully you find these sources interesting and helpful in your research! Good Luck!


Christina James: ROHO

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

I decided to peruse the collections of the Regional Oral History Office this week and was impressed with the extent of their collections and the diversity of topics. Although I didn’t find an interview directly related to my topic, I did find an interesting oral history, “Rancho San Bernardino and the Southern Salinas Valley, 1871- 1981.” In this interview, a woman named Margaret Rosenberg shares the history of her family and also history of the region and development of communities in the area, specifically when it was first being settled.

There were several aspects of the oral history that I found to be interesting. Unlike typical historical sources, the oral history had very specific experiences, perspectives, and memories. In addition, the conversational nature of the interview made it easy to see Margaret Rosenberg’s personality and sense of humor. Her mention of specific details such as her love of John Steinbeck’s novels made it easy to place her story in its broader context, specifically cultural context.

I was intrigued by the way the interviewer used official documents or historical records to pose questions, or jog Rosenberg’s memory. It was neat to see how more traditional historical sources could work together and enhance the oral history. Thanks to the Decal facilitators for including this in the course! I’m so glad to have been introduced to this valuable resource!

Christina James: Microfilm

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

I spent time in the Microfilm library this week. I began by using the index books for the New York Times, for the years 1860 through 1862. I was hoping to find some articles written before the passage of the Homestead Act, possibly discussing the bill’s discussion in Congress. After a little bit of difficulty locating the topic in the index (it was under the heading ‘agriculture’) I came across a goldmine of articles from March 1860 through June 1860 which reported the debates in Congress over the Homestead Act.

One article, published March 20, 1860 on the front page of the New York times included several interesting arguments presented by Senator Nicholson from Tennessee, who strongly favored the bill, claiming that the emigration of families to the west would build a new population which would “make better citizens in a time of peace and better soldiers in a time of war.” In addition, he claimed that the movement of working class families west would lessen the tension in cities between “labor and capital.” Because my original research question involved the different interests and motivations behind the Homestead Act, I was glad to find some information on what its supporters hoped it would accomplish. It was also interesting to see that some of the arguments for the Homestead Bill were centered around how it might benefit those living in the East.

The paragraph describing Senator Nicholson's address to the Senate, printed in the New York Times on March 20, 1860.

The paragraph describing Senator Nicholson’s address to the Senate, printed in the New York Times on March 20, 1860.

I was really happy with the sources I was able to find this week and I was able to scan and save several articles from 1860, which I’m looking forward to exploring more in depth.

Christina James: Bancroft Library

March 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

I began my research this week with searches on OskiCat. Just as in our first week of research I found that I had more success if I searched using OskiCat’s topic categories, rather than my own key words.

The item I chose to view in the Bancroft was “Circular From the General Land Office Showing the Manner of Proceeding to Obtain Title to Public Lands,” issued by the US General Land Office on March 10, 1869. This document contains the text of and amendments to laws dealing with land settlement between 1841 and 1866. In addition, the document included the necessary forms which were to be filed to claim land. Because I’m interested in looking into some of the political motivations behind the Homestead Act, I was interested to see that one of the criteria for settling the 160 acres granted by the Homestead Act (enacted during the Civil War) was never having borne arms against the United States. Additionally I was interested to see the ways in which land legislation allowed for the rise of more egalitarian societies in the West than existed in the East. For example, the Homestead Act included sections which allowed each family to claim only the 160 acres. Even if one had land in the west, and claimed additional land adjacent to one’s property, total land holdings could not exceed 160 acres. I would imagine this policy allowed for relative economic equality among settlers, where no family could claim enormous amounts property

I was especially interested in reading the 1866 act which applied the Homestead Act to public land in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida. The Act rewrote Section Two of the Homestead Act, the section which described the criteria for qualifying for land. The edit read exactly the same as the original section, but did not include the requirement of never having borne arms against the United States. I am interested to look further into this 1866 law to see if I could possibly uncover why the government would not require those settling open land in the South to have been loyal to the Union during the Civil War. In addition, the Act stipulated that there would be no discrimination based on race or color in the distribution of land. I would be interested to see if this was honored by those in the land offices of the South.

Overall, I would say my expereince with the Bancroft Library was very good. Even though the document I ended up viewing didn’t contain too much information that I wouldn’t have been able to find with an internet search, I thought being able to view the document in person was really neat. I look forward to using the Bancroft again in future research!

Christina James: Digital Resources

February 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week I searched for digital sources on JSTOR. After playing with different combinations of keyword searches, I found several articles that are related to my research topic. The article I chose to post about is “Some Political Aspects of Homestead Legislation,” published in 1900 in the American Historical Review. The article discusses the various land legislation implemented or proposed in the nineteenth century and looks into the political origins of the Homestead Act. Although this article was written so long ago (yet not a primary source), it contains a lot of information that I was interested in researching, and also has helped me to understand the general timeline of western land legislation. Additionally, the article has given me some ideas about how I can narrow down my research question.
The link to the article: