Knowledge Notes: Books and Archives

Check out "A Motherland of Books: An Essay by Maria Bloshteyn" at Punctured Lines, a blog devoted to "post-Soviet literature in and outside the former Soviet Union."

Written just before the war in Ukraine began, this essay elegizes the home libraries lovingly gathered and treasured by their owners in the Soviet era, these very libraries, with these very editions, that are being bombed today in Ukraine, along with their owners.

HT @YelenaFurman

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Knowledge production in history requires archives of various sorts. Steven Seegal has been gathering important material on Twitter in The February 24th Archive, getting little sleep, it seems. He described his effort at The New Fascism Syllabus a month into the war, and he is still going strong. Follow him on Twitter, @steven_seegel, and tweet material to him, if you think he hasn't seen it.

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Late last year, Gregg Mitman wrote an article in Slate that calls for companies to open their archives. To make his case, he draws on his own work for Empire of Rubber.

Harvey Firestone Jr., president of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, recognized the power of American industry in making history when he established the company’s archives in 1943. The records “not only of Firestone but of all American industry,” the rubber magnate believed, “represented vital source material as historically important as the records of Government and the military.” By 1952, the company had amassed what it described in a pamphlet as “560,000 documents, 150,000 photo negatives, thousands of feet of microfilm and 400 recordings.”

He has never gained access to the materials, despite their founders intentions, as he explains in a story that reaches from Akron, Ohio, to Nigeria. HT @alexia_yates

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Drawing on her experiences writing Afghan Crucible, Elisabeth Leake reflects on the contingencies of historical research and writing at History Workshop. Her emphasis is on writing, which expands on a more familiar story about archives.

We cannot escape that the archives we do or don’t visit shape the histories we write, just as we cannot escape how our personal and professional circumstances also influence the works we produce.

Leake would like to see scholars be more open about these issues. HT @HistoryWO.

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JSTOR is not just for articles hidden behind a paywall. They host many open access materials, including images and community collections. Among these materials is the Wellcome Collection of over 100,000 "images connecting science, medicine, technology, life, and art." HT @JSTOR


This round-up brought to you one last time by @mstoneman.

Featured image: "Another one of the spacious filing spaces in the National Archives: the Division of Commerce Department Archives," November 22, 1939. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC, https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016876654/.