Wednesday, March 7, 2018

International Women's Day: #TimeIsNow

March 8th marks the 107th anniversary of International Women's Day. The United Nations' theme for International Women's Day 2018 is "Time Is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women's Lives." The video above features remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

First celebrated on March 19, 1911 by more than one million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland after a proposal by Clara Zetkin [1857-1933] in 1910 at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, International Women's Day is now observed in many nations throughout the world.

The United Nations first began celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day during International Women's Year in 1975, and in 1977 approved a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace for member states.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

WFMU Marathon 2018: Support Freeform Radio

Love free-form radio? Then consider supporting independent station WFMU during its annual fundraising Marathon that runs March 4-18, 2018. WFMU first hit the airwaves sixty years ago on April 24, 1958 at the now-defunct Upsala College and has never looked back. Currently based in Jersey City, New Jersey, WFMU broadcasts at 91.1 Mhz in New York and via a second signal at 90.1 Mhz in the Hudson Valley. WFMU has also long been an Internet pioneer, and an extensive archive of past shows is available for easy access.

What is free-form radio you might ask? WFMU describes itself as follows:
WFMU's programming ranges from flat-out uncategorizable strangeness to rock and roll, experimental music, 78 RPM Records, jazz, psychedelia, hip-hop, electronica, hand-cranked wax cylinders, punk rock, gospel, exotica, R&B, radio improvisation, cooking instructions, classic radio airchecks, found sound, dopey call-in shows, interviews with obscure radio personalities and notable science-world luminaries, spoken word collages, Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks in languages other than English as well as country and western music. 
And because the station is listener-supported, WFMU DJs have for years maintained complete autonomy and control over their own programming, which is extraordinarily eclectic. Check out the current WFMU audio smorgasbord, and see for yourself!

Note: The poster shown above was designed by Dave Cunningham for a previous Marathon. The premiums for this year's marathon can be viewed here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice

Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice is this year's Obermann Humanities Symposium at the University of Iowa, and will be held at campus and downtown Iowa City venues on March 1-3, 2018. The symposium is an initiative of the Provost's Global Forum, and will offer a full schedule of lectures, panels, film screenings, and exhibitions.

The organizers note that "practicing archivists, engaged scholars, and interdisciplinary artists will share projects from creating 'data refuges' of climate date to mining corporate records for evidence of organized violence." Experimental filmmaker, Bill Morrison, honored as an Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, will be delivering a talk, "Consider the Source," and presenting his most recent film, "Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)."

Further information can be found at the symposium website, which includes biographies of speakers, resources on archives and activism, and a listing of numerous, diverse archives in the area.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Sesquicentennial of W.E.B. Du Bois' Birth

Civil rights advocate, scholar, educator, and global activist, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born 150 years ago on February 23, 1868, and died August 27, 1963.

Among his many outstanding contributions were his roles in founding, in 1905, the Niagara Movement, an African American group of scholars and professionals that challenged racial discrimination, and in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was also the founder and editor of The Crisis, which was the NAACP's monthly magazine.

Du Bois earned his doctorate from Harvard in 1895, the first African American to ever do so. His dissertation, "The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870," was the inaugural publication of the Harvard Historical Series. In 1899, he published a major sociological work called The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. Du Bois authored many other works over the course of his career, notable among them, The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (1903) and Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (1935).

As a global citizen, Du Bois was long committed to Pan-Africanism. He attended the First Pan-African Conference in London in 1900, and later organized a series of Pan-African congresses around the world. In 1961, at the invitation of its president, Du Bois received citizenship in Ghana, where he worked as director of the new Encyclopedia Africana, which was devoted to the African diaspora; he died in Ghana in 1963 at the age of 95.

For additional information on the life and work of Du Bois, check out the online guide to resources held by the Library of Congress. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has a very substantial collection, the W.E.B. Du Bois Papers, 1803-1999, containing nearly 100,000 digital items. Other resources include the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where Du Bois was born and raised, and the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, where an instrumental meeting of the Niagara Movement took place at Storer College in 1906.

Note: The photograph above was taken by Cornelius Marion Battey on May 31, 1919, and is in the collections of the Library of Congress.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

#FundLibraries #FundMuseums #FundArchives

The American Library Association's President Jim Neal has issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration's proposed elimination of the Institute for Library and Museum Services (IMLS) and the gutting of $183 million dollars for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA):

“The administration’s FY2019 budget is out of touch with the real needs of Americans and the priorities of leaders in Congress who represent them. The president miscalculates the value of more than 120,000 libraries across America, just as he did in his FY2018 budget proposal.

“There is bipartisan support for libraries in Congress, where decision-makers know that to cut funding for libraries is to undercut opportunity for their constituents.

“Thanks to its Grants to States program, IMLS funding provides services that benefit everyone in our communities, including:
  • Veterans in California who receive assistance claiming well-earned benefits to further their education, get medical treatment, start a business and transition to civilian life.
  • Students in Arkansas who prepare for today’s competitive job market by participating in coding classes taught by trained school and public librarians.
  • Entrepreneurs in rural North Carolina who received business development assistance from an IMLS-funded business and technology outreach librarian.
  • Adults in Kansas who take GED courses and use otherwise cost-prohibitive exam preparation tools to advance their education and improve career prospects. 
“This administration’s new budget also decreases resources for children. Cutting federal support for programs like Innovative Approaches to Literacy comes at the cost of early literacy and improved student achievement, especially in the most underserved areas of our nation.

“Withholding federal support for libraries means withholding services that foster achievement, develop the workforce, and contribute to local economies. ALA members will continue to highlight the value of libraries to our elected leaders in every US congressional district. And we are confident that our congressional leaders will continue to protect the federal programs that invest in our communities.”

Res Ipsa Loquitur: The Thing Speaks for Itself

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Happy Year of the Dog / 狗 年 旺 旺 !

The Year of the Dog is now underway, the new lunar year having begun on February 16, 2018. The image above is a woodcut from Edward Topsell's bestiary entitled The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents . . . , which was published in London in 1658. A digitized copy of this text is available online via the Internet Archive. For a modern take on the life of canines, check out artist Laurie Anderson's contemplative film, Heart of a Dog (2015).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Bicentennial of Frederick Douglass' Birth

Born into slavery 200 years ago, on February 14, 1818, Frederick Douglass represents one of the most consequential figures in American history. His life's work as an abolitionist, social reformer, orator, author, publisher, and statesman are without parallel.

To learn more about Douglass, there are a number of significant research collections to explore. The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress contains approximately 7,400 items, with the bulk of the material dating from 1862 to 1865. Many of Douglass' early writings were destroyed when his house in Rochester, New York, burned in 1872.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has created a digital edition of the Frederick Douglass Papers, and at the University of Rochester, the Frederick Douglass Institute, in conjunction with the Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections, is seeking to digitize all of the Douglass-related materials at the University Library. The National Archives has deep collections in African American history generally.

The National Park Service maintains the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, which preserves and interprets Cedar Hill, where Douglass lived from 1877 till his death in 1895 at age 77. The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Community has a number of online resources that are also of interest.

Note: The photograph above was taken by George Francis Schreiber on April 26, 1870, and is in the collections of the Library of Congress.

Portraits of President Obama and First Lady Unveiled at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

The collections of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, which holds the nation's only complete set of presidential portraits outside the White House, were recently augmented as newly-commissioned portraits of the 44th president, Barack Obama, and former First Lady Michelle Obama, were unveiled on February 12, 2018 at a ceremony presided over by Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton and National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet. The President's portrait was painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, and the First Lady's portrait by artist Amy Sherald.

National Portrait Gallery Director Sajet observed:
As a museum of history and art, we have learned over the past half-century that the best portraiture has the power to bring world leaders into dialogue with everyday Americans. These two paintings fall into that category, and we believe they will serve as an inspiration for generations to come.
Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists that have ever been commissioned for official portraits of a President or First Lady.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Indiegogo Campaign for "Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There"

Independent filmmaker D.P. Carlson has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $75,000 for the release of his documentary film, Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There. Music was a vital component of Joe Frank's radio artistry, hence much of the funds raised will be utilized to obtain licensing for musical works included in the film, as well as for final sound editing and mixing, and other expenses associated with screenings on the 2018 film festival circuit.

In his video appeal above, Carlson notes that Frank, who died just two weeks ago, had himself seen the final cut of the documentary, and was "really excited about sharing it with audiences." To catch a glimpse of what the excitement is about, check out the trailer at the film's website, and then help support Carlson and his team get this feature film tribute in front of both longtime Joe Frank aficionados and a new generation of listeners. Perks for donating include a thank you in the film credits and an array of premiums.

Monday, January 22, 2018

RIP Joe Frank, Radio Artist Extraordinaire

The pioneering radio artist, Joe Frank, died one week ago on January 15, 2018 at the age of 79. Frank produced an extensive and unique body of work during a career of over forty years. Known for his monologues and ensemble casts of characters, Frank utilized both scripted and improvised segments that were set to entrancing music that propelled the mood, action, and emotion of his novel form of storytelling.

Attuned to the philosophical quandaries of life, a deep humor runs through every dramatic episode as Frank employs any manner of historical, cultural, and artistic references to explore and express the absurdities and follies of human existence. In certain respects, Frank is a great moral fabulist who revels in chaos as much as he rebels against it, either with or without cause. His art is truly sui generis, and resistant to facile description; it is best to simply listen to the work itself to understand and appreciate Frank's radio alchemy.

Some of Frank's shows are still being broadcast on various radio stations around the country, including WFMU and KCRW, and the Joe Frank website offers several options to purchase his work, including CDs, DVDs, flashdrives, as well as streaming subscriptions. A number of tributes have been offered in the last several days, a compilation of which can also be found at the Joe Frank website. Slate magazine has just published his last interview, "Joe Frank Signs Off," and his obituary has appeared in the New York Times, among other publications.

The above video is a trailer for D.P. Carlson's documentary, "Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There," which will be released later this year.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Martin Luther King, Jr. [1929-1968] would have turned 89 today. It was during the March on Washington, held on August 28, 1963, that Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." The speech galvanized the civil rights movement, and in 1964, James Blue released the film, "The March," which documented the events of the March as well as King's speech.

The film was produced for the Motion Picture Service unit of the United States Information Agency, and was intended for foreign audiences. In 2008, the documentary was inducted into the National Film Registry maintained by the Library of Congress. A full digital restoration of the original negatives was later undertaken by the Motion Picture Preservation Lab to coincide with the March's 50th anniversary in 2013; details of this painstaking process are available at the National Archives website.

The National Archives has many other resources related to King and to African American history, and there are several prior Common Curator posts regarding King's legacy as well.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

No Loitering

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Field of Dreams, La Bamba, and Memento among Films Added to National Film Registry

Established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the National Film Preservation Board is an advisory body for the Librarian of Congress. The Board helps shape national film preservation planning policy, and also recommends films for the National Film Registry.

Chosen for their cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance, the Board's 25 annual selections for 2017 cover a wide gamut of genres and time periods, from such early films as The Sinking of the Lusitania and Gentleman's Agreement to such later works as Boulevard Nights and Memento. The full list for 2017 is as follows:

Memento (2000)

4 Little Girls (1997)                                  
Titanic (1997)
To Sleep with Anger (1990)                 

Field of Dreams (1989)
Die Hard (1988)
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)                  
La Bamba (1987)                                 
The Goonies (1985)

Boulevard Nights (1979)     
Superman (1978)
Time and Dreams (1976)
Lives of Performers (1972)
Wanda (1971)                                                                                              

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)              
Spartacus (1960)

Ace in the Hole (aka Big Carnival) (1951)

Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
Dumbo (1941)

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)                      
With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain (1937-1938)

Fuentes Family Home Movies Collection (1920s-1930s)                  
He Who Gets Slapped (1924) 

The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)         

Interior New York Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street (1905)       

Further information on the Registry as well as the films themselves can be found on the Library of Congress' web site. All 725 films selected for the Registry since 1989 can also be browsed online. In addition, the public is encouraged to make nominations for next year's selections to the National Film Registry.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wapsipinicon Almanac No. 24

The latest annual installment of the eclectic Wapsipinicon Almanac is now available for purchase and perusal. Published and letterpress printed since 1988 by Timothy Fay of Route 3 Press, the present issue, as with previous numbers, features an engaging mix of essays, reviews, fiction, poetry, art, wit, and wisdom.

Number 24 can be purchased at bookstores and other establishments or by writing the publisher directly at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $9, plus $2.70 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 63-cents for sales tax.

The front cover shown here was designed by Elizabeth Munger of Iowa City, and depicts The Black Angel, a well-known local statue in Oakland Cemetery. A brief history of the publication can be viewed at the Almanac's website, and a video of "Linotype Operator Emeritus" Eldon Meeks in action can be viewed here.