Images for Scientists & Engineers: Where to Look?

More and more, engineers and scientists need visual materials for their work. Civil engineers need images of bridges and buildings; astronomers need pictures of galaxies and nebulae; biologists want to see microbes up close and personal. A picture is worth a thousand words in the sciences, too!

But, where do you find them? No need to fear, the Finding Images Guide is here! There’s an entire section dedicated to resources that have illustrations, pictures, drawings, and all sorts of wonderful things for visually-minded women and men of science.

So, you’ve found all these great images – now what to do with them? The guide offers advice on how to save images and present them in the classroom, how to cite them properly when part of your research, how to use them effectively in your publications, and generally how to ensure legal and ethical use of images to support your research and teaching.

Explore and enjoy these resources! Feel free to use visual materials liberally for your scholarship (cited properly, of course), but don’t go making calendars and coffee mugs with them – that’s what we call a copyright violation…and, that’s no fun.

Questions? Please ask us, as always!

Drawing and Believing: Blindfolds and Blind Faith

by Alicia Puglionesi, PhD Recipient (History of Medicine) and former fellow, Special Collections Research Center

In Drawing and Believing, part 1, we met George Albert Smith, a British psychic medium, and the drawings that he supposedly produced using his telepathic powers. Those drawings would lead to a long argument between William James and Simon Newcomb on the subject of draftsmanship. James, often called the father of American psychology, and Newcomb, a driving force in American astronomy, were both prominent “men of science” and thus had the authority to weigh in on questions of general scientific and popular curiosity.

William James

James organized the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in 1885, hoping to foster rigorous investigations of the psychic phenomena that were wildly popular in the late nineteenth century. Newcomb served as the Society's first president. In his presidential address of January 12, 1886, Newcomb took a rather pessimistic stance not only on the Society's accomplishments, but also on the veracity of psychic phenomena, especially telepathy (“the work of the society seems to me to have entirely removed any ground which might have existed for believing thought-transference a reality”).

Simon Newcomb

Among Newcomb's targets in this speech was the George Albert Smith investigation, widely regarded as the best proof of thought-transference on record. Newcomb pointed out a slew of inconsistencies in the experiments. In tests supposedly performed while Smith was blindfolded, the lines of his drawings always met to form a closed image, which Newcomb deemed an impossibility without sight. Either the medium was cheating, or the experimenters were too lax.

Understandably concerned about the newly-formed ASPR running off the rails within its first year, William James defended the Smith drawings; the ensuing debate played out in the pages of the journal Science, and in private correspondence that survives in Newcomb's papers at the Library of Congress. James challenged Newcomb to try blindfolded drawing for himself:  “...he may perhaps be led to agree that [its] accuracy can hardly be deemed to fall outside the range attainable by the muscular sense alone. "

Newcomb asserted that “I cannot make any such drawings,” but conceded that his poor drawing ability might be to blame. The very same day, William James took up his pencil, “and with tight-shut eyes scrawled the figures I enclose.” Unfortunately, James's drawings have not survived in Newcomb's papers; they were apparently very persuasive. Newcomb wrote back immediately to concede his point on the basis of James's evidence. He agreed to strike out the passage criticizing the Smith experiments from the published text of his presidential address – in essence, revising the record so that his argument with James had never happened.

This would seem like a tactical victory for James, who had managed to salvage his best evidence for telepathy. Unfortunately, Smith, like so many other mediums, turned out to be a charlatan. In 1908 he would confess that all of his work with the SPR was completely fraudulent. The gentlemanly trust in images that led Newcomb to accept James's blindfolded drawings, and James to accept Smith's, would not, however, fall away in the face of treachery or new imaging technologies. The intuitive status of drawing as a form of communication that bypassed the distortions of language ensured a role for it in many subsequent attempts to access the inner workings of the mind, which I explore in my dissertation, The Astonishment of Experiment: Americans and Psychical Research, 1884-1935.


  • Editorial, “Comment and Criticism,” Science 7, no. 156 (January 29, 1886): 89–91. doi:10.2307/1760142.
  • Gurney, et. al., "Third Report on Thought Transference," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. 1 (1883):161-216.
  • James, William. “Professor Newcomb’s Address Before the American Society for Psychical Research,” Science 7, no. 157 (February 5, 1886): 123. doi:10.2307/1761960.
  • James, William. Letter to Simon Newcomb, February 12, 1886. Simon Newcomb Papers, Box 28, Library of Congress.
  • James, William. Letter to Simon Newcomb, July 7, 1886. Simon Newcomb Papers, Box 28, Library of Congress.
  • Newcomb, Simon, “Professor Newcomb’s Address Before the American Society for Psychical Research,” Science 7, no. 158 (February 12, 1886): 145–146. doi:10.2307/1760227.
  • Newcomb, Simon. Letter to William James, February 16, 1886. Simon Newcomb Papers, Box 6, Library of Congress.

Sign Here!

Did you ever wonder why signatures and autographs carry the enormous weight they do? The history of this fancy of finger-work, this veritable cult of calligraphy is long and varied. Ever since humans fixed words to a medium, signatures of some sort have existed. Residents of the Arabian peninsula used cylinder seals to authenticate, certify, and witness a variety of legal documents thousands of years before the common era.

Western tradition perpetuated the use of seals as a means of authenticating documents (it didn't hurt that the seals brought with them a good deal of gravitas). The use of matrices and signet rings to imprint a seal on hot wax served to show both the authority and the authenticity of the accompanying document.

Although the use of manuscript signatures and writing to convey authority existed much farther back, it wasn't until the spread of education and literacy (greatly impacted by the developments in the world of printing) that signatures alone were widely accepted as valid certification. Early modern Europe, along with its increased industry and business transactions, saw the growth of legal contracts and the increased need for legal authentication.

As signatures became widely seen as signs of presence and authority, they inevitably became objects of desire as well, and were collected and valued for their connection with notable people. Autograph collecting became a popular phenomenon. From movie stars to sports legends, autographs became both a symbol of a personal experience with the famous as well as something with its own inherent value.

As the train of technology ever chugs along, innovations in authentication continue to develop. Perhaps one of the most well known examples is the autopen and its use by US Presidents. The autopen is a mechanical device that records the manner in which a person signs his or her name, and then replicates that automatically. Harry Truman is thought to be the first President to use the autopen, although Gerald Ford was the first to openly acknowledge doing so. Presidents, politicians, and many others have employed the device ever since.

In today's world, manuscript signatures are still widely acknowledged, accepted, and even required, but far more often (sometimes without even realizing it) we are signing things electronically. There are many means used to authenticate and certify identity and acknowledgment online, and just as forgery in the manuscript world was an ever present threat, so too is the threat of cyber-forgery. One wonders if and how electronic signatures might become collectibles in the future!

Anne Boleyn

This poem, by Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832-1911), is one of many works that have been inspired by Anne Boleyn who lost her head 477 years ago. She had won the heart of Henry the VIII, but refused to become his mistress; she demanded marriage. Thus in 1527 Henry proposed and there ensued a seven-year courtship during which time Henry worked to attain an annulment from his marriage to his first wife Queen Katherine of Aragon. During the years 1527 to 1528, Henry wrote numerous love letters in both English and French to Anne telling her how much he wished she could be by his side. Since the Pope would not grant the annulment, Henry divorced Catherine, and in 1533 they married, and Anne soon gave birth to Elizabeth -- not the son that Henry had counted on. Following this birth and two subsequent miscarriages, his interest in Anne waned, and he looked elsewhere for a wife. So their brief marriage ended with Anne being charged with adultery and treason. Her peers found her guilty, and on May 19, 1536, the Executioner of Calais beheaded her with a sword.

The Sheridan Libraries have various materials that one can use to explore Anne’s short and tragic life. First there are books both non-fiction and fiction. The most recent biography available in the collections is The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: ‘The Most Happy’ by Eric Ives. This is a scholarly work about Anne and life at the Tudor Court. If you want fiction, there is The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn. In the Booker Prize novel Bringing up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel tells the story of Thomas Cromwell’s relationship with Anne, and how he carried out Henry VIII’s wish to be free of Anne so he could marry Jane Seymour.

Anne appears in plays, in television, and in film. William Shakespeare wrote circumspectly about Anne in his play Henry VIII. The modern playwright, Howard Brenton had no constraints. He wrote the play Anne Boleyn for the Shakespeare Globe Theatre which premiered in 2010. In this play, Anne is portrayed as a significant force in the political and religious in-fighting at court and a supporter of the cause of Protestantism in her enthusiasm for the Tyndale Bible. If live theater is not an option, this summer could be a good time to catch up on the Showtime series The Tudors. It is a 15-DVD set that tells the story of Henry VIII’s life – watch it all or only Season Two which covers Anne Boleyn’s relationship with Henry. Or if you prefer a feature film, there is the movie The Other Boleyn Girl a story of Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary.

Grand opera suits the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Domenico Donizetti composed the two-act opera Anna Bolena which was immensely popular when first performed and propelled Donizetti's career. Recordings and a video of the opera are available in the library.

Thus Anne Boleyn's short life and tragic end has inspired writers and musicians and continues to do so.

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, Professor of Greek

With this entry, I’m beginning a new series of articles on our original faculty – those named to full professorships before the University opened.

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, Johns Hopkins' first professor of Greek, was born in 1831 in Charleston, South Carolina, and was orphaned at a young age. Gildersleeve proved to be a precocious child who displayed a hunger for classical learning. His determination took him first to the College of Charleston, then to Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and on to Princeton, where he earned his bachelor's degree at the age of 18. He then went to Europe for advanced study, earning his doctorate at Göttingen in 1853, at the age of 22. Returning to the United States, he became professor of Greek at the University of Virginia in 1856.

When the Civil War began in 1861, many faculty members in the south resigned their positions to join the Confederate armies. Gildersleeve accepted a staff officer position in the summer of 1861, and he returned to the army each spring at the conclusion of classes. During a skirmish in the Shenandoah Valley in September 1864, Gildersleeve was delivering orders to the front when gunfire shattered his leg. Gildersleeve's comment summed up the incident: "I lost my pocket Homer, I lost my pistol, I lost one of my horses and, finally, I came very near losing my life." As a result of this wound, he would bear a limp for the remainder of his life. During his convalescence, brooding over the prospect of a postwar South dominated by the North, Gildersleeve considered abandoning the academic life and joining the conflict in Mexico with Maximilian.

Overcoming his despair, Gildersleeve returned to Charlottesville and resumed his duties, helping to rebuild an institution ravaged by war. In later life, he reflected, "At the University of Virginia, I learned what scholarship and toil meant in terms of growth and inner rewards." Students came to cherish the rigorous training they received at the hands of this Greek master. A brilliant scholar, Gildersleeve was known to be very demanding of his students, singling out with biting comments those he felt were performing below their abilities. As he matured, his classroom demeanor softened.

After failing to persuade a Harvard scholar to relocate to the new Johns Hopkins University, Hopkins president Daniel Coit Gilman was directed to Gildersleeve. Gilman tendered an offer to Gildersleeve that the latter accepted in December 1875. Gildersleeve’s hiring helped allay the fears of many who nervously watched Gilman, from Connecticut, build a university with a bequest from a pro-Union railroad baron. Their fear was that the new university would employ only those sympathetic to the North.

Gildersleeve credited Hopkins with satisfying his fondest desires. Writing in 1891, he declared, "The greater freedom of action, the larger appliances, the wider and richer life, the opportunities for travel and for personal intercourse have stimulated production and have made my last 14 years my most fruitful years in the eyes of the scholarly world." In 1880, he founded the American Journal of Philology at Hopkins and edited the journal through its first 40 years. A memorial later declared, "Of Greek authors, there were few with whom he did not have more than a bowing acquaintance."

Gildersleeve retired from teaching in 1915, after a professorial career spanning nearly 60 years, and passed away quietly on January 9, 1924.

Libraries Through the Ages–Part I

If you are reading this post, chances are you have spent time in one of our library buildings or at least used our online resources. But how much do you really know about the history of libraries? To complement our running history of the Hopkins library, this post begins a three-part history of libraries in general.

A good definition of the term "library" comes from page 8 of the e-book How to Build a Digital Library. The authors call libraries “institutions that arrange for the preservation, collection, and organization of material, as well as for access to it.” Modern brick and mortar libraries collect books, journals, maps, manuscripts, photographs, and a host of other physical formats. Most academic libraries also create digital collections such as the Roman de la Rose Digital Library. You are probably familiar with both public libraries and academic libraries, but there are also school libraries, national libraries, and special libraries. The latter includes law libraries, business libraries, medical libraries, museum libraries, and prison libraries. Katharine Hepburn is wonderful as a corporate librarian in the 1957 movie Desk Set.

In case you can’t wait for the series to get rolling, you might want to do some investigating on your own. Try The Library: An Illustrated History  for a recent comprehensive history or browse through the issues of Information and Culture for scholarly articles about library history. The American Library Association even has a Library History Round Table for serious library history geeks. Check out their Twitter feed  for news about conferences, grants, and more.

In subsequent blog posts we will describe how libraries have changed through the centuries and highlight some unusual collections. You may even hear about librarians in literature and popular culture. Please comment on this post if you want to alert us to your favorite library!

Post-Graduation Research Resources

Graduated recently? The Alumni Association is pleased to offer Hopkins KnowledgeNET, the Hopkins Online Alumni Library, to all Hopkins graduates. You'll have access to some of the library resources you’ve used as a student, including thousands of journal articles and other resources. Alumni have used HKNET resources for ongoing research, career development, and even to enhance their travel with Alumni Journeys! And we’re always looking ahead, seeing what new resources and services we can offer, piloting projects with interested vendors and staying on top of the alumni library landscape.

We’re very excited that this year marks our ten year anniversary—a real milestone among online alumni libraries. We were one of the first universities to create an online library for alumni because we wanted to make sure that our alums have access to quality online resources after graduation. The Sheridan Libraries partnered with the Alumni Association in 2004 to launch HKNET, and it's still going strong! So 2014 grads, make sure to check out the HKNET resources on the Alumni & Friends website. Contact the Alumni Association at or 1-800-548-5481 for more information. And congratulations on your own milestone!

JHU Alumni, This is for You!

You've graduated: congratulations!

How does your new status affect how you can use the library? Here is information that will help you.

You can enter the library IF

  • you show the guard some form of photo ID (e.g., driver's license, passport, ID from another institution of higher ed,...)

You can borrow our books IF

You can access our online resources IF

  • you come to campus and use a Hopkins computer

You can remotely access selected electronic resources IF

For information about your RefWorks account,

  • Look at the box called "Leaving Hopkins?" (on the left of this page of the Refworks Guide)

For more information about all of this, please read our guide entitled "Information for Alumni."

Have a wonderful future!

Commencement through the Years

The Johns Hopkins University conferred its first degrees in 1878, two years after our founding (four PhDs). The first undergraduate degrees were conferred in 1879 (three BAs). However, until 1884, there were no Commencement exercises, and it was not until 1886 that diplomas were awarded to graduates. According to John C. French, in A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins, the first diplomas were “phrased quite simply in English, and bearing the official seal.”

The first printed Commencement programs, preserved in the University Archives, were simple folded sheets of paper. As late as the 1950s, programs were black ink on white paper, with no embellishments except the University Seal. In 1958, the first color cover appeared on a Commencement program.

While the first four Commencement ceremonies (1884-1887) were held on Hopkins’ original campus (in the vicinity of Howard and Monument streets), the event quickly grew too large. So, for most years from 1888 through 1943, Commencement ceremonies were held off-campus, in area churches, the Academy of Music, and the Lyric Theater.

In 1944, due to the ongoing world war, Commencement was held on July 3, but this marks the first time that Commencement took place on the Homewood Campus, in front of Gilman Hall, using the steps and terrace as a stage. For many years, this event took place open to the elements, but in the 1970s, the University began erecting a tent, covering most of the quad, and this practice continued through 2000.

Due to a major landscaping project that began in summer 2000, a tent was no longer feasible, due to irrigation pipes. It was decided to move Commencement to Homewood Field in 2001. Many graduates have fond memories of attending Commencement among the academic buildings, but the seating at Homewood Field accommodates more people and gives a better field of view to those watching their friends and family graduate.

Spring DIY

At long last the snows have cleared and Spring is upon us. What better time to get back to the earth, get your hands dirty, and DoItYourself?

Our country has, in some way or another, been a DIY nation since its early days. Be it gardening, cooking, distilling, or dressmaking, early Americans made and did by hand because often there was no other reasonable option.

As time progressed and the nation became wealthier and more mechanized, a sense of what was lost in an earlier age began to grow. Perhaps this is best exemplified in the work of philosopher, naturalist, and ardent-DIY'er Henry David Thoreau. Amidst the proprieties and formality of New England society, Thoreau sought an individualism that could express itself in an authentic life. Thoreau's experiment at Walden is itself a great example of how making carries a political message.

Today, the DIY spirit is alive, strong, and growing. Crafters, artisans, gardeners, brewers, and so on have turned making into a movement and a message. Tired of the rising tide of throw-away culture, DIYers aim to make creation part and parcel of daily life. So pick up a shovel, dust off the sewing machine, and get out there and make something!