Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2019 Issue

A Deep-dive Database of Local History, Attitudes, and Ideas

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Ulster County documents

Recently I purchased a small group of mid-Hudson Valley material that I found useful as examples of what would logically be included in a deep-dive experimental database for the New York State counties mid-way between New York City and Albany.  A what?  A deep-dive-database is a full text searchable database, something like what Google does in its Books section.  Whether it is a d3 or a FTSD or something else remains to be seen, but it is the future.

 

Databases of the printed word have generally been confined to brief descriptions and details of books and printed documents.  To see an actual copy, for example if you are using the OCLC, you are provided locations where such copies, physical and electronic, are found.   On RBH we focus on auction records and dealer descriptions to illuminate the emerging understanding of an example’s importance and value.  Such databases are potentially very large as ours is, more than 9 million full text records. 

 

But what is now emerging are full text databases.  That is, they capture the complete contents of a document in word searchable form, not only as a scan but as a word document.  Some efforts currently look for references in text but they have generally been dull instruments, in some cases because the references need to be dug out and in others because they are behind paywalls.    This will change and with this change there will be full text readable versions searchable online – and in many cases, searchable for free.

 

This experimental free database for the mid-Hudson Valley will include the standard reference materials, town and county histories, maps that convey changes, appropriate books by local authors, broadsides, pamphlets and ephemera – all in full searchable text.

 

The search will be different because the most common form posted will be ephemera that will outnumber books and pamphlets somewhere between a thousand and ten thousand to one.

 

Books usually include the title, author, publisher/printer, place and date printed.  When even one of these facts is missing it can complicate searches.  For ephemera you might be lucky to have three of these factors.  The others will require associated factors such as “they are among a group of letters in the same hand”.  Here’s an example.  A collection of letters from A.M. to B. R.  dated by day and month but not by year.  However, one envelope is dated 1863 and the events mentioned suggest the Battle at Chancellorsville.  Can this be figured out?  Probably.  As this example suggests, judgments will be made.

 

Here are some of the fields needed to identify and contextualize such letters.

 

Date or date range stated or implied

Names implied or known

Subject[s] such as events and places

Regimental references and information including cross-references

 

In addition, other fields will sometimes play a part:

 

Watermarks

Context of the document [among a group of similar items or with other related materials]

 

References gleaned from genealogical sites

 

References from online searches on Google and others

 

Altogether it will often, but not always, be possible to contextualize material, thus creating a deeper perspective – a perspective I believe that will change our understanding of the past.

 

Here are some other examples:  Ulster Mine at Ellenville, Ulster County, New York, a series of 5 printed documents, many with illustrations, that relate to this mine from 1852 to 1855 that include:

 

A 16 page report dated July 1st, 1852

 

An abbreviated broadside version dated July 1st, 1852

 

A 12 page report dated December 10th, 1852

 

A broadside, brief financial statement dated 15th December, 1852

 

A 16 page report dated January 3, 1854 titled Official Reports of the Ulster Company for the year 1853

 

This mine was located a short distance from the Delaware & Hudson Canal and was opened in 1852 during a period when Americans were looking everywhere for gold because of the stories emerging about the gold strikes in California.  In Ellenville they found lead while in Kingston some 20 miles away they believed they found gold that, when assayed, turned out to be pyrite or fool’s gold.  Such documents are so much more interesting than a title, date, author and print date.

 

Among the other documents I purchased is a stock receipt for the Hobart Branch Railroad Company signed by Thomas Cornell, who was a man of wealth whose steam boats coursed the Hudson River in the latter half of the 19th century.  He was based in Rondout but his influence reached in every direction.

 

Another is a menu for the Hotel Kaaterskill at Catskill for Thursday August 24, 1899.  Tastes have changed!

 

A small one is an 1857 7.625” x 5” broadside circular calling on teachers in Orange County to participate in a quarterly meeting to be instructed on new teaching approaches.  The teachers were expected to pay their own way but a handwritten note suggests the costs may be shared.

 

These are a few of the many documents that will contribute to an understanding of what life was like and altogether convey the changing assumptions and understanding people generally had.  Life has never been a paved highway and in the mid-Hudson Valley it seems more like a gravel path; every spec of gravel evidence of unique personal history.

 

An intensely focused, full text searchable database will bring these details to light.

 

Images of some of the examples are included with this article. 


Posted On: 2019-08-09 17:16
User Name: certainbooks

Hello Bruce: How would this proposed database differ from the current OCLC search fields, for instance? These search fields allow for choices in access method, accession number, author, author phrase, corporate or conference name, corporate and conference name phrase, personal name, personal name phrase, language type, material type, material type phrase and 18 more choices, per each search line - including a half-dozen under 'subject' alone. The search fields in OCLC offer these options, in three separate possible boxes, multiplying the search-ability by all those permutations. Additionally, there are year date, language and number of libraries searches as separate boxes. Limitation fields below go even further and allow for type of material: books, visual materials, computer files, internet resources, serial publications, sound recordings, archival materials, continually updated resources, articles, musical scores, maps allow for a narrowing of the field of search even further. There are additional limitations for availability possibilities too. Sincerely, George Krzyminski at Certain Books


Posted On: 2019-08-10 18:17
User Name: adminb

The OCLC, which I use but may not fully understand, shows how many copies are held among the more than 30,000 members of OCLC. So, for example I looked up “Art Work of Ulster County” recently and found 5 locations: LOC, NYPL, SUNY New Paltz, UCCC and Penn State. None of these copies are searchable online. Neither did I find it in Google Books.

To see the entire volume all pages including text and images will to be scanned and then converted into one or more word documents that random keywords searches can find. That’s the approach I’ll take to all material uploaded to this database.

In addition to books, all printed forms as well as manuscript material will be included.

This full text will be wide open to Google so that random terms and phrases found in this local database will create matches.

At a guess, and it’s strictly a guess, about 15% of the U. S. population has some connection to the mid-Hudson Valley.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Nebel, Carl. The War Between the United States and Mexico. New York, 1851. $270,000 - $300,000 MXN / USD $15,000 - $16,666
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Nebel, Carl. The War Between the United States and Mexico. New York, 1851. $270,000 - $300,000 MXN / USD $15,000 - $16,666
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Bolaños, Joaquín. La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte... (“The Portentous Life of Death”) México, 1792. $50,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,777 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Tratado de Paz… entre la República Mexicana y los Estados Unidos. (“Treaty of Peace… Between the Mexican Republic and the United States”) 1848. $80,000 - $90,000 MXN / USD $4,444 - $5,000
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Fabregat, Josep Joaquín. Vista de la Plaza de México… (“View of the Square of Mexico”) México, 1797. $60,000 - $100,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $5,555
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Hidalgo y Costilla, Miguel. Invitación al Coronel Narciso de la Canal… (“Invitation to Coronel Narciso de la Canal…”) 1810. $170,000 - $200,000 MXN / USD $9,444 - $11,111
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Gálvez, Joseph de. Real Cédula de Erección de la Compañía de Filipinas. (“Royal Notice of the Creation of the Company of the Philippines”) 1785. $40,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,222 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Colección de Constituciones de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (“Collection of Constitutions of the United Mexican States”) México, 1828. $50,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,777 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Ruelas, Julio. Poemario Manuscrito Ilustrado, Dedicado a Lorencita Braniff (“Collection of Illustrated Poem Manuscripts, Dedicated to Lorencita Braniff”). 1903. $60,000 - $70,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $3,888
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Espinosa de los Monteros, Juan J. Aviso de la Junta Soberana al Público (“Notice of the Sovereign Meeting to the Public”) 1821. $60,000 - $80,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $4,444
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos... (“Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States”) México, 1824. $140,000 - $150,000 MXN / USD $7,777 - $8,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Alcaraz, Ramón. Apuntes para la Historia de la Guerra entre México y los EU (“Notes on the History of the War between Mexico and the United States”). 1848. $40,000 - $50,000 MXN / USD $2,222 - $2,777
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest Hemingway's Typewriter Used to Write "A Moveable Feast", Impeccable Provenance From His Biographer A. E. Hotchner. $50,000 to $100,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Samuel Colt, "The Gun that Won the West": 3 Signed Patent Items for "Revolving Cylinder Guns". $40,000 to $50,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Jack Kerouac's Own Typewriter From His Estate Used to Write His Very Last Book. $18,000 to $20,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Rare Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence Printed in 1848. $15,000 to $18,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Superb Tchaikovsky ALS to Napravnik, 4pp on "Mazeppa". $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Wounded Knee Massacre Same Day Eyewitness Account by Participant, "the 7th needn't be ashamed of today's record". $10,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> F. Scott Fitzgerald Signed Gordon Bryant Portrait -- Finest Known. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Neil Armstrong ALS on NASA Letterhead Regarding His X-15 Flights. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> M. Gandhi Letter: "the life span of human beings is preordained..." -- Fantastic Spiritual Content. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> "Damn the torpedoes!" Riveting 24pp ALS of Admiral Farragut's Steward Describing the "Battle of Mobile Bay”. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Abraham Lincoln Signed Order to Suspend Execution. $5,000 to $6,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Napoleon DS Featuring Imperial Eagle and Enormous Great Seal Appointing Norman Politician Baron of the Empire. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.

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