The First Thanksgiving

Please note that MSEL and the BLC will be closed Thursday, November 27 for the holiday. We will close at midnight Wednesday and reopen Friday at 7:30am.

When we think of Thanksgiving, what comes to mind? Turkey, parades, football, shopping and food. Truthfully almost none of those things were at the first Thanksgiving with the exception of food. There was no turkey or shopping. The first Thanksgiving was not even in November. It also was not a once a year event for the original Pilgrims either. Days of Thanks were a fairly regular occurrence for the Pilgrims. They would have them for surviving the winter or a storm or receiving a plentiful harvest to thank God for his gifts. As far as we can tell, the first "Thanksgiving" was actually in the spring. They ate items like fish and water fowl. And had vegetables like leeks and cabbage.

Thanksgiving Day became a national holiday in 1863 as declared by President Lincoln. Until 1941, Thanksgiving Day was declared by the President of the United States every year. In 1941, a resolution was passed by Congress to have Thanksgiving Day every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

Since 1621, Thanksgiving Day has changed a lot. There are always new recipes to try and parades to watch. However if you are ever interested in discussing days of thanks with Pilgrims, just head to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims will be happy to discuss it with you.

Of course, now you want to know even more about the holiday, don't you? Check out these books in the library and search America: History & Life for articles on the history of this truly American event!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Calling All Bibliophiles: The Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest is Open!

2015 Logo

The Betty and Edgar Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest recognizes the love of books and the delight in shaping a thoughtful and focused book collection. All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a degree program at Johns Hopkins are eligible to enter, and all entries are welcome except past winning collections.

The annual competition is sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries and was endowed in 2007 by Betty and Edgar Sweren, longtime supporters of the Sheridan Libraries.

Did we mention prizes? The competition includes a graduate and undergraduate division, and winners in each division are awarded:

• $1,000 First Place
• $500 Second Place
• $250 Honorable Mention

In addition to cash prizes, selected titles from the winning collections will be exhibited in the Brody Learning Commons. Winners will also receive a one-year honorary membership in the Friends of the Johns Hopkins Libraries.

Awards will be presented to the winners in the spring of 2015. Each entry will be judged on the extent to which the items in the collection form a coherent pattern of inquiry and/or represent a well-defined field of interest. Additionally, consideration will be given to how well the collection reflects the student’s stated goals and interests.


1. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, enrolled in a degree program at Johns Hopkins University is eligible to enter.
2. All items must be owned and collected by the student who enters the contest.
3. A collection need not consist of, or include, rare or valuable books. Paper-bound books may be included.
4. Although the focus is books, the collection may include other media that support the collection.
5. Collections can be on any subject. Past entries include Colonial America, feminism, running, and music. (See below for last year's winners.)

Application Information:

Each contestant must submit:
1. A Cover Sheet including the title of your collection
2. A 2-3 page essay outlining the purpose of the collection, how you started the collection, how the collection was assembled, the items of greatest interest, ideas for the collection’s future development.
3. A bibliography of 20 or more items (maximum of 50) in the collection. Each item should be numbered, given a full bibliographic description, and briefly annotated as to its importance to the collection. Please use the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.
4. A wish list. Please include a second bibliography listing up to 10 items that you would like to add to your collection, with brief annotation stating the reason for adding each item.
5. Electronic entries should be submitted as one PDF document, including coversheet.

*Finalists may be asked to bring a portion of their book collection to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library for final judging. The winning entries will be displayed in the Brody Learning Commons. Top-prize winners of the Sweren contest are also eligible to enter the 2015 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, and the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

The deadline to enter is Friday, February 20, 2015

Last Year’s Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest Winning Entries:

1st Place, $1,000 cash prize, Undergraduate Category: Kierra Anne Foley: From Egypt to a Baltimorean’s Bookshelf

1st Place, $1,000 cash prize, Graduate Category: Shawn Gude The 20th Century American Left

2nd Place, $500 cash prize, Undergraduate Category: Alexander Mui 100 Years of Narrative Art Through the Major Arcana

2nd Place, $500 cash prize, Graduate Category: Olivia Maj Sabee The Lives of Dancers: Marie Sallé to Gelsey Kirkland

Honorable Mention, $250 cash prize, Graduate Category: Rachael Cohen Representative Paired Archetypes of Rachael’s Fantasy Book Collection

Submit all entries by February 20, 2015 to:

Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest
Dean’s Office/Milton S. Eisenhower Library
Johns Hopkins University
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
or via e-mail:

Please direct any questions to Shellie Dolan at 410-516-8992 or

New Collaboration Tool

IMG_0055IMG_0053The BLC now has group study rooms with ClickShare Technology. ClickShare is a very easy way of displaying your laptop screen to the projector. No hassling with webpages or connecting to a different networks. Just simply plug in the ClickShare USB Dongle and run the Windows or Mac Application. Then push the button to display. The person who pushes the button last will get the last laugh.

ClickShare can be found in BLC-4031, BLC-4043, and BLC-2030.

Talk: Conversations in Medicine

Four Doctors

"The Four Doctors": Welch, Halsted, Osler and Kelly; by John Singer Sargent.

Conversations in medicine happen billions of times each day. Everyone within the medical community, including the patients, talks and talks and tries to reach mutual understanding. As studies show, we're trying to get better at this, but we still have a way to go.

What can help these crucial conversations? How about a speaker series entitled Conversations in Medicine? This program, whose theme this year is Consequences of our Medical Culture: Physician and Patient Perspectives, allows the Hopkins community to hear from and talk with physicians about their lives in the medical profession.

CiM is co-sponsored by the JHU chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national pre-med honor society; the Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society; and the Post-Baccalaureate Program.

Dr. Danielle Ofri, who spoke most recently, related some of her experiences as a new doctor and what she learned from them. She has written about those years in several books, and is also a columnist for the New England Journal of Medicine. Her most recent book, What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine, is also on the "Recommended Reading List" on the web site of the Pre-professional Advising Office.

The next speaker will be Dr. Albert Wu of the JH School of Public Health. Among many other credentials, Dr. Wu is the director of the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research; as many of his recent publications show, his areas of research include patient outcomes and quality of care. And in fact, excellent patient care and outcomes have always been the focus of health professions.

Come to meet and talk with Dr. Wu:

  • Wednesday, November 19, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • Charles Commons, Ballroom A

On the Subject of Cities

What is a city? The common characteristic of all cities is being "a reasonably large and permanent concentration of people within a limited territory," according to the Social Science Encyclopedia. The U. S. Census Bureau can even give you a number: a city is either urban -- "any incorporated place with [at least] 2,500 people living within its boundaries" -- or, as of 1950, an "urbanized area," which has more than 50,000 people.

But the concept of “city” continues to draw attention, in many fields of study. JHU professors have offered classes about very different aspects of cities:

There is even the Johns Hopkins Institute for the American City.

In JHU's library catalog, a TITLE search for city OR cities gets more than 40,000 results. These have 18 different FORMATS – they include the usual things such as books, journals, and DVDs, but there are also more than 400 musical recordings and 1 Blu-ray (the Charlie Chaplin film, City Lights).

More amazing is that those items span 480 years, from 1535 to 2015. What is that one from 1535, anyway? Ah, not a surprise; it’s about London: "A proclamation concernynge payement of tythes and oblations, as well within the citie of London, as elles where within the realme." It’s online in Early English Books Online, a database with scans of "virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and British North America" from 1473-1700.

What are these "city" books about? The 5 most numerous subject headings are:

  1. History 
  2. Great Britain
  3. Politics and government
  4. United States
  5. Cities and towns

All of these are pretty clear except “cities and towns” – what does that mean? The Library of Congress says that this subject heading is used for materials about “Global cities; Municipalities; Towns; Urban areas; Urban systems.”

That's still pretty broad -- what are some narrower terms that will be more concrete (no pun intended)? Oh, wow, some of these are great! One is "extinct cities," which includes cities that have been abandoned, buried, deserted, ruined, or sunken; do we have any books with that subject heading? What? Over 4,000?? (How many extinct cities can you name?)

Constantino Brumidi: A Capitol Fellow!

“I have no BrumidiCorridorlonger any desire for fame or fortune. My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beau
tiful the Capitol of the one country on earth in which there is liberty.”

- Excerpt, To Make Beautiful the Capitol (p. vi)

The man who wrote these words, Constantino Brumidi, worked for twenty-five years to achieve his dream. He created fresco murals in the Capitol that decorate important Senate rooms, the famous Brumidi Corridors, and the Apotheosis of Washington, which occupies the ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda. The artist, having studied at the Academia di San Lucia and worked at the Vatican Palace, arrived in New York City in 1852. In 1854 Montgomery C. Meigs hired him to decorate the walls of rooms and corridors of the two new wings of the Capitol. In February 1880, while finishing the work on the Apotheosis of Washington in the Rotunda, he fell from the scaffolding and died shortly thereafter.

The U.SConstantino_brumidi. Senate Commission of Fine Arts has produced a book that not only discusses the art work of Brumidi, but also the restoration of the frescoes that have been going on for 20 years. To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, provides insight into the artist, the country’s capitol, and the process of modern restoration. The book is full of illustrations that
demonstrate the magic of the fresco restoration process.

In 2012 Brumidi received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his artistic contribution to the United States and its Capitol. Now that your interest has been piqued, check out the book, and then visit the Capitol to take a special tour of the Brumidi Corridors.

Baltimore? Is it just like The Wire?

Before moving to Baltimore a few weeks ago, most of what I knew about Baltimore I learned from The Wire. But I learned pretty quickly that Baltimore has lots more to offer, like a fabulous foodie scene, a rich history, and some really interesting art. Like anyone moving to a new city, I researched the different neighborhoods and tried to find the best place for me. As I was digging around on the web, I ran into all types of sites and blogs that had a hundred different things to say about my new city. But what I really needed were the resources I found on the Sheridan Libraries’ Baltimore Research Resources guide. In one place I found information about crime, health and education in Baltimore, in addition to a few more reliable resources about what Baltimore’s neighborhoods are really like.

The architecture of Baltimore: an illustrated history. Available at MSE D Level NA735.B3 A73 2004 QUARTO c. 1

But besides the helpful information for new people figuring out where to live, and what types of city resources are available, this Baltimore Research Guide has some great links to help even the native Baltimorean find important statistics and information about The Greatest City in America. Need to know about Baltimore’s architecture? We’ve got books and links to online resources. Writing a research paper related to something in Baltimore's history? From historical societies, local libraries, and archives, we've got you covered. Want to see some cool historical maps, many with scientific, social, economic, and geological data that you can use in your research (or even just for fun)? This guide can get you started.

The Baltimore research guide is just the beginning in finding the information you need about the Charm City, so don’t hesitate to contact a librarian for more help, and to explore more resources.

Who Was Milton S. Eisenhower?

Most people at Hopkins are familiar with the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, part of the Sheridan Libraries. And most people have heard the name Eisenhower in connection with a US President. But who was Milton S. Eisenhower?

Milton Stover Eisenhower, born September 15, 1899, was the fifth son of David and Ida Eisenhower. His older brother, Dwight David (the middle child of five brothers), gained fame as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe in World War II, and was elected the 34th President of the United States in 1952.

Milton grew up in Abilene, Kansas, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University. He worked as an advisor in the Department of Agriculture and served as deputy director of the Office of War Information during World War II. From 1943 to 1950, he was president of Kansas State University. In 1950, he became president of Pennsylvania State University, where he served until 1956. In both positions, he was known as a friend to students, who would socialize with him and seek his advice for difficult problems. For Milton's connection to Hopkins and the library, keep reading after the jump.

Continue reading

Eerie en Español

Carlos Villarías as the famous vampire

In time for Halloween, let's dig into some creepy films that make use of the world's second most popular language.

Until recently, when pouting and glittering in the sun became the familiar visual for vampirism, most were familiar with the caped and widow-peaked Bela Lugosi as Dracula. What most may not be familiar with is a similarly caped and widow-peaked Carlos Villarías in the same role.

As the film industry transitioned away from silent film and into talkies, they were faced with a problem: they could no longer simply swap out the intertitle cards that contained the film's dialogue for dialogue in another language. Dubbing and subtitles had yet to be embraced, so they resorted to another option: Filming an entirely separate movie with the same sets with the same equipment as the English-language version. Native speakers were swapped out for the English-speaking Hollywood actors and their scenes were filmed during the downtime of the English-language production.

What is interesting about the Spanish-language version of Dracula, however, is that the Spanish-language crew was able to see the work of the English-language production and decided to try and top what they were doing, resulting in a more compelling and artistic picture:

"The American compositions are remarkably flat, like a plan performed on a narrow stage apron. [Spanish-language cinematographer George] Robinson's camera work is distinguished by its use of multiple planes of focus and action. Foreground objects create tension and depth, while middle-ground devices (cobwebs, windows, branches, bars, etc.) further split and define the visual field."

- David J. Skal, "The Spanish Dracula", American Film, September 1990

Fast-forward 80 years. In the 21st century, things are actually going the other way: Spanish filmmakers are producing films in English as a way to expand their audience to a global level. A good example of this trend is the 2001 haunted-house-with-a-twist flick, The Others. Despite being set in British Jersey, the movie was shot by director Alejandro Amenábar (Abre los ojos) in Madrid and the Cantabria region of Spain.

With nary a lick of Spanish spoken, it was a gamble for a Spanish production, but The Others proved to be highly successful. It won 8 Goya Awards (Spanish Oscars), including Best Film--the first English-language film to do so. Internationally, it collected $209 million at the box office. Not too shabby. (Casting Nicole Kidman as the leading lady didn't hurt, either.)

Another creepy English-language Spanish production that pulled the same trick is the Christian-Bale-as-mental-anorexic flick, The Machinist. This time, a Spanish production company and an American director used the outskirts of Barcelona to double for an anonymous American west coast city. Whoda thunk?

Some other Spanish-language chillers include:
The Orphanage
Pan's Labyrinth
The Blood Spattered Bride
The Devil's Backbone

Good books on Spanish-language cinema in general:
Blood Cinema
100 Years of Spanish Cinema
The Faber Book of Mexican Cinema

Research tools to find our more about scary Spanish films:
Film & Media Studies Research Guide

Beyond Frankenstein and Dracula: Literary Halloween Costumes

Still casting about for a Halloween costume? How about paying homage to something you read that sent shivers up your spine? A few suggestions:

  • Shakespeare is always a great source. Banquo's ghost, the weird sisters, Lady Macbeth after the murder, Hamlet's father, the drowned Ophelia--all are classics. If you need visual inspiration, search these characters in ARTstor to see how artists have represented them.
  • Charles Dickens wrote some of the coolest ghosts. Check out Arthur Rackham's drawings of Marley and the Christmas spirits in the Internet Archives' digitized A Christmas Carol.
  • How about the headless horseman in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Or, check out the 1999 film version for  post-trick-or-treat viewing with friends.
  • Last, but not least--Edgar Allan Poe. Start with the Roger Corman movies for ideas. You can even build a theme party around many of his stories, like my personal favorite, The Masque of the Red Death, or the Fall of the House of Usher.

If you take the literary path this Halloween, send us a picture and we'll feature it in a future blog!

And, even better, head down to the Peabody Library, the Hogwarts of Baltimore, for an Undergraduate Halloween Party. It will feature a variety of spook-tacular activities including pumpkin carving, a magic show, shadow puppets, old-time fortune-telling games, and a costume contest!