Wardman Library Blog

Whittier College Wardman Library

Archive for March, 2014

New discoveries in the Wardman Library archives

March 31st, 2014 by John Jackson


Today’s guest-post was written by Whittier College senior Alejandra Gaeta, who has been interning with our Special Collections librarian, Becky Ruud, since January. Be sure to check out the gallery of images below.

First there is a feeling of horror when you find something old-looking shoved in the back of a file cabinet, hidden behind neatly organized hanging file folders. However, that is quickly overcome by curiosity as to what this discovery entails. This is exactly what happened the day that Becky opened up the bottom drawer of the last row of file cabinets two weeks ago. We looked at each other, wide-eyed with panic and surprise because even just looking at the crumpled papers hiding behind the neat rows of labeled folders; we could both tell that these papers were at least a few decades old. As quickly as we could, we pulled out these mystery documents, some frayed edges catching at each other. We sat on the floor and started looking through the substantial piles we each had made; they were letters (for the most part). Looking at the date written in wonderfully scribbled penmanship in the upper right hand corner of the first letter, I was not totally surprised to find the date as 1853. Becky and I marveled at the beautiful cursive handwriting of some letters and then laughed at the less than legible handwriting of others.

It was ultimately the names written on many of the envelopes that revealed to us how this collection of letters was the family correspondence of the Johnsons of East Weare, New Hampshire. Interestingly enough, there were quite a few receipts made out to his daughter, Caroline C. Johnson, revealing that she really enjoyed shopping. Two of the women in the family happened to be schoolteachers as some of the papers looked to be schoolwork, a short story and even some complicated mathematical work done without the modern convenience of a calculator. There was also what looked like a completely different collection that seemed to all relate to a family genealogy of the Baileys. All of these documents were an unexpected find and as such, I was given the great task of processing them to add them into the rest of the archive. As I was looking into the family that the correspondence belonged to, I found that matriarch of the family was actually a cousin of John Greenleaf Whittier’s. The other collection relating to the Bailey genealogy turned out to be the work of a man named G.L. Bailey who was looking into other family histories as well. The genealogy that is written out by Mr. Bailey himself includes the Bailey couple, Jonathan and Rebecca Bailey who happen to be a couple from the group of Quakers that founded the city of Whittier.

What was all this doing in this neglected file cabinet? We may never know, but the discovery of this small collection is still a great experience. The process of trying to make sense of these documents has not been easy either. However, I feel that the task of discovering each new piece of information about these people was exciting, like fitting a new piece of a puzzle together so that at the end you can see the full picture, or most of it at least.

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Google power searching workshop on Wednesday

March 24th, 2014 by John Jackson

lego google logo

You use it every day. You can’t imagine how you could possibly live without it. You’ve tried to quit it, but it keeps calling you back…

That’s right: Google searching. We give Google a hard time at Whittier College. We tell you not to use it for research, to be wary of what you find there,  or to use Google Scholar instead. This Wednesday we’re not only going to encourage you to use Google for research, we’re going to show you how to be a Google search power user!

On Wednesday, as part of our ongoing Library Research Workshop series, we’ll be showing you how to get the most out of a Google search.

For example: Imagine you wanted to find information on the rules of cricket. You could search for “cricket” in Google and you would get this. Not so bad if you needed cricket scores or wanted to buy a cricket wireless phone, but you’re looking for the rules of the game, not current events. So what if you searched for “intitle:cricket rules -intitle:batting” instead? Now that’s much better. Compare the two results below.

cricket search resultsbetter cricket search results

Sometimes, all it takes is one extra word or symbol to dramatically improve Google search results. And that’s just a sample of what we’ll be talking about on Wednesday. Space is limited so sign up today!

photo credit: keso on flickr

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2014 Spring Break Hours

March 13th, 2014 by John Jackson


If you need to access the library during Spring Break, please be aware that we will have reduced hours starting this Saturday.  The schedule is below. Librarians will be around if you need us. Enjoy your week off, Poets!

Saturday, March 15 – Sunday, March 16: CLOSED

Monday, March 17 – Thursday March 20: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Friday, March 21 – Saturday, March 22: CLOSED

Sunday, March 24:  normal hours resume —  12:00 pm (noon) to 12:00 am (midnight)


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Science Writer Don Prothero: March 12 at 7 PM.

March 7th, 2014 by John Jackson


Join us on Wednesday, March 12 at 7 PM in Wardman Library as we welcome science writer and skeptic extraordinaire Don Prothero to speak about his new book, Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future. Refreshments will be served!

Palaeontologist Donald Prothero explains the scientific process and why society has come to rely on science not only to provide a better life but also to reach verifiable truths no other method can obtain. He describes how major scientific ideas that are accepted by the entire scientific community (evolution, anthropogenic global warming, vaccination, the HIV cause of AIDS, and others) have been attacked with totally unscientific arguments and methods. Prothero argues that science deniers pose a serious threat to society, as their attempts to subvert the truth have resulted in widespread scientific ignorance, increased risk of global catastrophes, and deaths due to the spread of diseases that could have been prevented.

More about Prothero

Donald Prothero taught college geology and paleontology for 35 years, at Caltech, Columbia, and Occidental, Knox, Vassar, Glendale, Mt. San Antonio, and Pierce Colleges. He earned his B.A. in geology and biology (highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa, College Award) from University of California Riverside in 1976, and his M.A. (1978), M.Phil. (1979), and Ph.D. (1982) in geological sciences from Columbia University. He is the author of over 35 books (including 5 leading geology textbooks, and several trade books), and over 300 scientific papers, mostly on the evolution of fossil mammals (especially rhinos, camels, and horses) and on using the earth’s magnetic field changes to date fossil-bearing strata. He has been on the editorial boards of journals such as Geology, Paleobiology, Journal of Paleontology, and Skeptic magazine. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, the Paleontological Society, and the Geological Society of America, and also received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Science Foundation. He served as President of Pacific Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology) in 2012, and served for five years as Program Chair of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. In 1991, he received the Charles Schuchert Award for outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40.  In 2013, he received the James Shea Award of the National Association of Geology Teachers for outstanding writing and editing the geosciences. He has been featured on numerous TV documentaries, including Paleoworld, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, Prehistoric Monsters Revealed, Monsterquest, Prehistoric Predators: Entelodon and Hyaenodon, Conspiracy Road Trip: Creationism, as well as Jeopardy! and Win Ben Stein’s Money.

More about Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future

Many forms of denial of consensus science (such as creationism, climate deniers, anti-vaxxers, AIDS deniers, etc.) are active in today’s culture, attempting to prevent the public understanding and teaching of established scientific ideas that threaten their ideology. All of them borrow from “The Holocaust Deniers’ Playbook” for strategies that create smokescreens to cast doubt on scientific truths, quote out of context, cherry-pick or distort data, and deliberately mislead people in order to prevent widespread acceptance of scientific ideas. Such denial of the reality that face us in the future is not only bad philosophically, but directly kills people, and threatens our society and its ability to be competitive in science and technology.


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Wardman Library Instagram Contest

March 3rd, 2014 by John Jackson


It’s as easy as 1-2-3 click!

This week, we’re starting an Instagram contest for Whittier College students. Snap a photo of your favorite part of the library, your friends in the library, or something artistic featuring the library. Post the photo to Instagram and tag it #wardmanlibrarycontest

We will select 15 photos to be showcased in the lobby of Wardman Library and the creator of our favorite photo will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The deadline to submit a photo is March 15, 2014 March 28, 2014.

Disclaimer: By participating, you give Wardman Library the right to use your photo on our website and in the lobby. Don’t worry, we will cite you! (Come one, we’re librarians. Would you expect anything less?)

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