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Stolen Descartes letter found at Haverford by Dutch scholar's online detective work

A letter by Rene Descartes, stolen in 1840s, recovered in 2010 by online detective work. The letter was stolen by Guglielmo Libri, inspector general of the libraries of France, who stole thousands of valuable documents and fled to England in 1848. Since 1902 it's been in the collection of Haverford College, its contents unknown to scholars, and nobody there realized that it was an unknown letter. But because they had catalogued it and recently put their catalogue on line, Dutch philosopher Erik-Jan Bos found it "during a late-night session browsing the Internet". (A Haverford undergraduate thirty years ago had translated it and written a paper on it, in which he recognized that the letter was unknown -- but nobody followed up and the letter had sat in the library since then until it was listed online.) The letter includes some last-minute edits to the Meditations, and some thoughts on God as causa sui. Haverford, whose president was a philosophy major, is returning the letter to the Institut de France.
posted by LobsterMitten on Feb 26, 2010 - 21 comments

Historical Photographs and Documents

The U.S. National Archives' Flickr Photostream. Includes collections of historical photographs and documents | Civil War photos by Mathew Brady | and the Documerica Project by the EPA in the 1970s. There is also a nice set of Ansel Adams landscape photographs.
posted by netbros on Feb 3, 2010 - 7 comments

As it turns out, Metafilter didn't invent snarky chat OR thread drift

The Great Scrapple Correspondence of 1872 In which a plate of pork gets bean-plated.
posted by jacquilynne on Dec 5, 2009 - 27 comments

“Better finish it while there’s still an Apple II market out there,”

The development blog for the original Prince of Persia from Jordan Mechner.
posted by loquacious on Nov 22, 2009 - 31 comments

Louis Armstrong's Collages

When not pressing the valves on his trumpet or the record button on his tape recorder, Armstrong’s fingers found other arts with which to occupy themselves. One of them was collage, which became a visual outlet for his improvisational genius. ... These little stories, illuminating and entertaining syntheses of Armstrong’s passions, now reside in the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens College in Flushing, New York. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Oct 28, 2009 - 11 comments

October is American Archives Month!

October is American Archives Month. From Alabama [pdf] to Wyoming, New England to the Rocky Mountains and points in between, archival repositories across the United States will celebrate by offering workshops, open houses, and behind the scenes tours. Pretty complete list here. [more inside]
posted by marxchivist on Oct 14, 2009 - 8 comments

I've got a box full of letters, think you might like to read

Letters of Note reproduces and transcribes letters from the famous, the infamous, and the not-so-famous.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 21, 2009 - 7 comments

Archive Team

Archive Team: We are going to rescue your shit. (previously)
posted by stbalbach on Sep 15, 2009 - 44 comments

When this you see, think of me.

Olive Lambert's Autograph Book
posted by Miko on Aug 28, 2009 - 8 comments

Will observing the history of physics change it?

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives has completed a project to transcribe its collection of more than 500 oral histories of physics, including a few audio snippets of the interviews. And, if you'd like to put a face with that voice, check out the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives. [via] [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jul 29, 2009 - 9 comments

Shopped, or Not?

Real or Fake? From the Life Magazine photographic archives.
posted by netbros on Jul 8, 2009 - 36 comments

A tool for 20th-century Australian History

Even after some deliberation it is difficult to find reasons to support the appointment of women Trade Commissioners. The Virtual Reading Room of the National Archives of Australia is a mine of information about Australia, its relationships and past attitudes.
posted by mattoxic on Jul 8, 2009 - 7 comments

Technocolor Tarheels

A View To Hugh. After Hugh Morton's death in 2006, the widow of North Carolina's most prolific photographer donated his entire collection, half a million transparencies, photographs, and negatives, to the North Carolina Collection at UNC. The "A View to Hugh" blog details the work of the team of archivists who are organizing and digitizing the collection. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 10, 2009 - 6 comments

Spirits playground

The Brakhage Scrapbooks. Jane Wodening, then Jane Brakhage, assembled three remarkable scrapbooks in the early 1960s, when she was the wife and muse of experimental film maker Stan Brakhage [previously 1, 2] ... Wodening created the scrapbooks from literal “scraps” of their family life, Brakhage’s creative process, and the artistic communities of which they were a part. Pages are covered with the widest array of verbal and visual materials including but not limited to letters, manuscripts, photographs, original art, clippings, pamphlets, filmstrips, and flyers. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 8, 2009 - 15 comments

Bantoro = Henry Ford

Museum archivist, exploring Henry Ford's office records, stumbles into the interesting world of commercial telegraphic code.
posted by Miko on May 27, 2009 - 15 comments

Photography, Video, and Visual Journalism

Lens is the new photojournalism blog of The New York Times, presenting visual and multimedia reporting — photographs, videos and slide shows. A showcase for Times photographers, it will draw on The Times' own pictorial archive, numbering in the millions of images and going back to the early 20th century. Features in their first week include: Essay: Slow Photography in an Instantaneous Age, about what it means to shoot on large-format film in the digital age; Showcase: A Prom Divided, a multimedia feature about a segregated prom in 2009 south-central Georgia.
posted by netbros on May 22, 2009 - 9 comments

Online archaeology and anthropology film from Penn

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has put 675 reels of archival 16 mm film online via the Internet Archive. Most of the film is unedited, and stems either from Museum research, or was donated by interested amateurs. Much of it is silent, reflecting the technology of the day. One highlight are the four surviving reels of the long-running TV show 'What in the World" (look for the episode starring Vincent Price), but the archive is full of other hidden gems, such as the 1950s archaeological expedition to Tikal, a 1940 film "A 1000 Mile Road Trip Across America", and Glimpses of Life Among the Catawba and Cherokee Indians of the Carolinas (1927). The films are downloadable in various formats, including MPEG2, Ogg Video, and 512Kb MPEG4. Happy browsing! via.
posted by Rumple on May 3, 2009 - 12 comments

Cologne City Archive Disaster

Cologne City Archive is a six-story building containing 26 kilometers of shelves, 65,000+ documents dating from 922 AD, 104,000 maps, 50,000 posters, 500,000 photographs and 780 estates and collections, including Irmgard Keun, Hans Mayer and Jacques Offenbach. Considered a state of the art institution when built in 1971 and copied around the world, the building simply collapsed on Tuesday, destroying most everything. [1],[2](via) [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 5, 2009 - 94 comments

Treasures unburied

Libraries' Surprising Special Collections. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 3, 2009 - 44 comments

Virginia Quarterly Review opens Archives!

The Virginia Quarterly Review — "A National Journal of Literature and Discussion" — just made public every article, essay, book review etc. published in its pages between 1975 and 2003. Search the archives here or check out this blog post for some greatest hits.
posted by Bizurke on Feb 10, 2009 - 9 comments

JournalSpace: R.I.P.

JournalSpace: R.I.P. [Sub-Titled: When is the last time you tested your backups?]
posted by GatorDavid on Jan 3, 2009 - 70 comments

Christmas at the BFI

Christmas in the London Blitz, 1940; Making Christmas Crackers, 1910; Santa Claus, 1898; Christmas is coming, 1951: short films from the British Film Institute's wonderful Youtube Channel (including excellent playlists), which you can also explore through Google Earth using the kmz file found here.
posted by Rumple on Dec 24, 2008 - 4 comments

Short films made with images from the Hulton Archive

Photograph of Jesus is a short film by Laurie Hill illustrating the strange requests photography archivists at the vast Hulton Archive sometimes get, such as for photographs of Jesus, the Yeti, Jack the Ripper, Neil Armstrong with 11 other people on the moon and the like. This film won Getty Images' Short and Sweet Film Challenge. The three other shortlisted films were Big Red Button's gambling tale Perrington Stud, Jasmin Jodry's science fiction fantasy Star Games and Ian Mackinnon's sports story Long Jump.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 11, 2008 - 14 comments

Is this 18.5 minutes of tape anything important?

It's been a busy week for presidential libraries. The Nixon Library released 200 hours of tape (excerpts) and 90,000 pages of documents (excerpts) that detail his obsessive attempts to destroy his political enemies. The LBJ library released MP3s of dozens of phone calls, including one where he accuses Nixon of treason for stalling Vietnamese peace talks in advance of the 1968 election. Finally, the Reagan Library released 750,000 pages of documents (NYT, reg. req.) to researchers. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 7, 2008 - 20 comments

Europeana

Europeana is the new EU digital library. It gives multilingual access to two million digitized books and other items of cultural and historical significance held in over 1,000 institutions in the 27 EU states. There will be 10 million by 2010. Soon after its launch the website froze, its servers overwhelmed by over "10 million hits an hour".
posted by stbalbach on Nov 20, 2008 - 21 comments

Hey Look! The Harvey Kurtzman Archives!

"Almost all American satire today follows a formula that Harvey Kurtzman thought up." - Richard Corliss [Via Tom Spurgeon's TCR]
posted by Alvy Ampersand on Oct 23, 2008 - 10 comments

It's nice to share. Cheney sued over not releasing VP documents to the public.

The Society of American Archivists, American Historical Association, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are suing Vice President Dick Cheney for not transferring the vast majority of his records to the National Archives and Record Administration for eventual release to the public. [more inside]
posted by rokabiri on Sep 16, 2008 - 31 comments

Digital Vaults

This is a collection of the National Archives stored in the Digital Vaults. You can browse through hundreds of photographs, documents, and film clips and discover the connection between some of the National Archives' most treasured records. With the Pathways tool you can see the unique and surprising connections between events and people and test your knowledge of history. As you travel through the site and collect documents, images and films, you can then merge the objects to create your own poster or movie from your collection.
posted by netbros on Jul 17, 2008 - 16 comments

the tail wagging the dog

webofdeception.com is a bizarre, timecubesque linkdump maintained and updated by private investigator and domain squatter Joseph Culligan. In addition to sleazy dirt-digging on various celebrities and politicians, Culligan also includes a huge resource list of links to databases and public-record searches. [more inside]
posted by sergeant sandwich on Jun 29, 2008 - 14 comments

Pursuing Purloined Papers

To Catch A Thief. How a Civil War buff's chance discovery led to a sting, a raid and a victory against traffickers in stolen historical documents. Related article: Pay Dirt in Montana. And photo gallery.
posted by amyms on Apr 27, 2008 - 20 comments

Virginia Tech Artifacts

A Million Voices. Staff members of the University Archives at Virginia Tech are working to catalog and make available the more than 87,000 letters, poems, posters and artifacts that arrived at the school in the wake of the April 16 shootings. Dubbed The Prevail Archives, the website has a database with images of some of the items. [more inside]
posted by marxchivist on Apr 10, 2008 - 11 comments

From Abati to Zoppio: historic Italian texts

OPAL Libri Antichi from the University of Turin offers over 3,000 books as free, open PDF files. Most of these date between AD 1500 and 1850 and most are in Italian, with many in French. They tend to be plain books with few illustrations. A few English titles are present, including David Hume's 1800 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul; several texts by William Wycherley such as Love in a wood: or St. James's-Park (1735); and Richard Lassels 1686 work The voyage of Italy: or, a compleat journey through Italy with the characters of the peaple, and the description of the chief towns ... (volume 2) - an early travel guide. The PDFs are unsearchable plain scans. via this thread in the W4RF forum which contains hundreds of links to free online historical documents
posted by Rumple on Mar 10, 2008 - 3 comments

paper's hero: bill blackbeard

"Bill Blackbeard is a writer-editor and the founder-director of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, a comprehensive collection of comic strips and cartoon art from American newspapers. This major collection, consisting of 2.5 million clippings, tearsheets and comic sections, [spans] the years 1894 to 1996... [more inside]
posted by ethel on Feb 20, 2008 - 3 comments

A Portrait of the Intertubes as a Child

What did the Internet look like in 1996? "...very few web designers had even the most rudimentary of aesthetic sensibilities, and nearly half of them were clinically retarded."
posted by desjardins on Jan 26, 2008 - 89 comments

Archive of 19th Century Americana

Cornell University and the University of Michigan collaboratively present two sites on the "Making of America" (Cornell Site; Michigan Site), together including over one million pages of 19th Century American books and periodicals online. At this Cornell page you can browse or search some well-known, full-text periodicals including: The Atlantic Monthly 1857-1901; Harper's 1850-1899; Scientific American 1846-1869; Putnam's 1853-1870; and The Manufacturer and Builder 1869-1894. From Michigan, you can browse less well-known journals, including American Jewess 1895-1899; Ladies Repository 1846-1871; and the Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Iron Workers 1880-1891. warning: frames abound [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Jan 23, 2008 - 8 comments

Gossip of the Sewing Circle

Gossip of the Sewing Circle Profound cattiness from 1903. Learn to use such snarkily coded terms as embonpoint in everyday conversation. Need to shame a beautiful rival who hasn't produced an heir for her much older husband? Describe her in The Newsaper of Record as owning "an extremely clever parrot." PDF, link from the NYT Archives.
posted by maryh on Dec 2, 2007 - 38 comments

Read classic punk 'zines, without the inky fingers!

Read classic punk 'zines, without the inky fingers! Too young to have read the first issue of Flipside? Need confirmation that Maximum Rock 'N' Roll was just as boring (does/did anyone actually read those MRR Scene Reports?) and elitist back then as it is now? Do you find it hard to believe that Soul Asylum used to be credible enough to be interviewed by Suburban Voice? Or maybe you just want to marvel/feel-sad-for the obviously painstaking effort someone went through to scan every single page of these 'zines (including HeartattaCk) into PDFs? Well here 'ya go.
posted by melorama on May 23, 2007 - 25 comments

Old Lady Leary Left Her Lantern in the Shed

The Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory compiles a fascinating array of primary sources about the 1871 fire that destroyed 4 square miles of the city of Chicago, killing hundreds and leaving nearly one out of five residents homeless. Explore 3D images, music [embedded], children's drawings, and personal recollections. See also a pictorial survey of the damage, including fused marbles and metal hardware, related documents and images at the Library of Congress, and an exoneration of Mrs. O'Leary and her bovine companion, along with a suggestion by John Lienhart that police corruption and class struggle were more to blame than a cow [embedded audio].
posted by Miko on May 16, 2007 - 9 comments

Interesting times

Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security "By far the most ambitious and integral project in the burgeoning field of cold war history"
posted by Abiezer on May 7, 2007 - 3 comments

Now that Premiere's Gone

Cashiers du Cinemart. Film Threat's Dave Williams: "a thin, primitive hobby publication with an obvious ax to grind; making it far less interesting than you think it is, and compelling me to conclude it's impossible for you to ever get your shit together...killing one more tree for your pointless, directionless, self-aggrandizing 'zine with nothing to offer is a sad, selfish waste." Best known for the Anti-Tarantino saga, one man's quest to get a director to acknowledge his influences, Cashiers is a great '90s 'zine with archives online.
posted by klangklangston on Mar 20, 2007 - 15 comments

"Kur-heiny?" "Teip!!"

New York University's Tamiment Library, one of the world's foremost centers of learning on labour history and the Left, has been given the archives of the Communist Party USA. (alternate non-NYT link) The donation includes 20,000 books, journals and pamphlets and a million photographs from The Daily Worker’s archives. Highlights include the original, hand-written will of Joe Hill.
posted by By The Grace of God on Mar 20, 2007 - 13 comments

Oh Canada!

Malcolm X on Front Page Challenge, Joni Mitchell on Take 30, Dr. Norman Bethune on 5 Nights and the rest of the CBC archives.
posted by serazin on Mar 14, 2007 - 6 comments

John Smith's Ephemera

"John Smith, Youngest, of Crutherland, was given the honorary degree of LL.D in 1840. In 1842 he announced the bequest to the University [of Glasgow] of his runs of publications from learned societies, and his volumes of ephemeral items. These came to the library on Smith’s death in 1849." Some examples: Playbill, Theatre Royal, York Street. Broadsheet account of an attempted prison break. Radical Party election ballad. See also: Glasgow Broadside Ballads: cheap print and popular song culture in nineteenth-century Scotland and Glasgow Broadside Ballads: The Murray Collection
posted by Len on Feb 3, 2007 - 7 comments

Franklin Kameny Papers Online

The Kameny Papers Project preserved and presents the papers of gay rights pioneer Franklin Kameny, who had activists picketing the White House in 1965, well before Stonewall. The website includes a nice archive of his papers, including correspondence, a small photo gallery, and some charming hate mail from members of Congress. See also the Franklin Kameny pages at the Rainbow History Project. Yesterday, the Library of Congress accepted Kameny's papers. [via Andrew Sullivan]
posted by LarryC on Oct 7, 2006 - 9 comments

im getting overwhelmed

like words? stimulate your mind with the salon directory, new york times topics, the archive of every single time magazine, past issues from the new york review of books or just take a break and stare at pages and pages of google images
posted by petsounds on Sep 26, 2006 - 19 comments

DeLorean out of gas? Try the Toronto Archives....

From Muddy York to the Toronto of today.... My search to discover the exact age of the house I recently bought led me to the fabulous Toronto Archives. Even if you don't have the good fortune to live in Toronto and so have the ability to visit the Archives to take a free tour and check out their massive holdings, they have a whack of stuff on line. Of their million photographs dating back to 1856, over 21,000 are online. Check out some of their virtual exhibits. I couldn't begin to give you an overview of the site or even the best of its many gems, but check out Chinatown's VE day victory parade, Bay and Wellington as it was after a huge fire in 1904, old advertisements, letters and postcards (including some from the disenchanted), snapshots of a, er, less politically sensitive time (thanks, Capn!), and — inevitably! — hockey artifacts. A friend of mine makes a hobby of Toronto's history, and after this search of mine, I better understand her interest. It’s fascinating to see what lies beneath the layers of time on a surface so familiar and loved.
posted by orange swan on Jul 4, 2006 - 23 comments

That's 2 shillings and sixpence in old money

Ever wondered what old amounts of money would be worth today? Or what you could buy with your current salary if you went back 200, 400, or 600 years? Now you can find out with a tool that converts English currency from 1270 onwards into today's prices. Based on Treasury records, it tells you that Mr Darcy's £10,000 a year would now be worth nearly £350,000, or that your house would only have to be worth the equivalent of £500 now to qualify for the vote after 1832.
posted by greycap on Jun 28, 2006 - 22 comments

Stuff About Dead People: or, History

The Public Archives of Nova Scotia has some cool online exhibits. The original list of dead bodies recovered from the Titanic sinking caught my eye, they also have original log book pages from privateers, lighthouses, slavery and abolition, boats, boats, and more boats. [via]
posted by marxchivist on Apr 20, 2006 - 11 comments

The Open Earth Archive

The Natural World is yours to play with now courtesy of the BBC, but only if you live in the UK!

The BBC have released their wildlife archives as part of the Creative Archive Licence, including unseen clips from the new Planet Earth series.

Unfortunately, it's only available to those who live in the UK because "the member organisations who supply the content are funded with public money to serve the UK population."
posted by Nugget on Mar 4, 2006 - 35 comments

Stop Look Listen

Public Information films have a special place in British TV history as they earnestly try to educate the public about how to cross the road safely or survive a nuclear bomb. Over the past few weeks, the BBC has been compiling some of the classics and making them available online (with the sad exception of Reginald Molehusband). Some of the best videos, however, have been made by the public in the traditional style - check out the brilliant special effects of Driving Backwards is Dangerous, the bizarre Pylon Peril, and the topical Stop Look Zombies.
posted by adrianhon on Mar 3, 2006 - 12 comments

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