Week 5: The Final Project

It’s finally here – the end, well, sort of the end. More like the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. This course has taught me so much about books and how to think about them differently. This week we were to “finish” our final project as we will be presenting them on Tuesday and Thursday. I say “finish” in quotation marks because these projects shouldn’t really be finished. Mine isn’t at least. I could work on mine for the other 49 states, but I may hold off on that for a little bit.

My frustrations were only with WorldCat and it’s unreliableness due to the way it portrays its vast amount of information. I worked through my struggles though, hugely in part to Dr. Pauley, and completed my project for the time being. Dr. Bankhurst also reassured me about my project and I now feel a lot better about it. I know think about the questions that involve a book’s history, like, where it came from, who owned it, why was it made the way it was, etc.

If anything, I’m more interested now in books than I was to begin this class. Perhaps I’m interested in different ways, but I count that as a success.

Just like that, another class is finished, another semester is over, and I’m one step closer to graduation. Time flies when you’re digging up the stories of old books.

Click here if you want to see my project.

Locating Jefferson’s “Notes on the States of Virginia”

Our fourth assignment was to identify a work published before 1800 that the English Short Title Catalogue shows to have been published in at least three different places and create a map showing those locations.

While searching the English Short Title Catalogue for Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia I found myself perhaps a bit distraught. Not so much at the overwhelming abundance of printed books, but rather the underwhelming amount. For this project, I was hoping to find many, many copies of said book and map them accordingly. I pictured many location markers illustrated on the map and hoped they would land all over the world. This is not so. Thomas Jefferson’s book was only listed six times on the ESTC, but amid technical problems, I was only able to successfully grab three of the listings.

Zotero is the tool we used which helped us scrape and gather data from the English Short Title Catalogue. From there, we inputted the data into a Google Sheets page and used that information to map our findings using Google Maps.

I found this task to be daunting, but I welcome any task that is challenging. Jefferson’s book was located in Baltimore, Maryland, Paris, France, and London, England. Perhaps someone from Virginia read the book, later traveling to Baltimore and left it there. Perhaps a curious Marylander wanted to read up on their neighboring state. Maybe Thomas Jefferson himself brought along a copy of his own book. For the other two places outside of the United States, I do not have any great guesses about why they were located there.

Without further ado, here is my map showing the distributions of Notes on the State of Virginia.

Behind the Scenes

Front cover of "Notes on the State of Virginia" by Thomas Jefferson - bound together with a shoestring
The book is bound with an old string to hold the covers together.
Front cover and front page of "Notes on the State of Virginia" unbound
Inside look at the worn book

Getting to revisit Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia with new expectations, I found some interesting items that I did not notice when I first handled the book. I learned more about the book and about the time period in which it was made. In order to learn this information, I had to test my hand at some bibliographical work. Read More

Welcome to Nash Library

For the collective four years I have attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, I haven’t spent much time in our library. Now, I’m asking myself “why?” I met with the director of Nash Library, Kelly Brown, who has worked for the University for fifteen years. I could tell just upon emailing her how excited she was to dive into the archive section and help me through this course. As I walked into her office, I noticed a small stack of books already laid out on her desk and the moment I sat down, she was already throwing ideas at me.

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