Archives and Special Collections

Archives, Historical Records, Special Collections

Images and belonging

I was fascinated to read in this morning's Boston Globe that a new and compelling image of Phineas Gage has recently been uncovered.  Gage is the famous 19th century Vermonter who was shot through the head with a piece of iron in an industrial accident, and survived--but with his personality completely changed. He became the subject of one of the most famous medical cases in history, illustrating the functions of different parts of the human brain. The photo was identified because the owner scanned it and posted it on Flickr.  What a great example of how content on the open web takes on a life of its own, and becomes something entirely different from what we thought, something that no longer belongs to us alone. In this case, the owner of the photo (it's actually a daguerreotype) originally thought it depicted a 19th century sailor with a harpoon.  But a Flickr viewer recognized it as something else.  High resolution scanning and zooming confirmed that the man is indeed Gage   Now the daguerreotype is no longer just a curio belonging to a collector, but an cultural artifact that belongs all of us. I wonder what our viewers will uncover from the images published in the NU library's Archives and Special Collections.  Are there Phineas Gages in our digital collections, waiting for you to discover them?

Joan Krizack named Fellow of Massachusetts Historical Society

Joan Krizack
From an announcement today by Acting Dean of Libraries Will Wakeling: I am excited to be able to tell you all of a great honor which has been bestowed on one of our colleagues and co-workers. Joan Krizack, University Archivist and Head, Special Collections Dept., has been elected a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The Fellows, elected by their peers, comprise " a special body of those who have excelled in preserving and making available the history of our state." Congratulations to Joan for this eminent recognition of her distinguished and continuing contribution. (image courtesy of Society of American Archivists)

Senator Ted Kennedy and Student Financial Aid @ Northeastern University

I am sorry to hear about Senator Ted Kennedy's ill health.  He's the subject of a new online exhibit by the NU Libraries Archives on Student Financial Aid at Northeastern University.  The exhibit recounts Kennedy's strong support of federal financial aid for college students, and his relationship with Northeastern.  He spoke at student rallies, heard personal student testimonies, and held a press conference and a senate committee field hearing at Northeastern whenever student financial aid programs were threatened by presidential or congressional proposals.  The exhibit comprises photographs, articles from Northeastern University's student and faculty/staff newspapers, official statements, and background information.  I wish Senator Kennedy and his family the best.