Trinity College & the Book of Kells

Book of Kells MadonnaThe Book of Kells represents an Irish and cultural treasure.

You will find the book in the Old Library of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university.

Tim and I made our pilgrimage to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells on our second day in Dublin.


Brief History of the Book of Kells

A group of Irish monks cloistered at St. Colum Cille monastery on the island of Iona penned the 4 gospels contained within the Book of Kells.

In 806, a Viking raid forced the Columban monks to relocate to a new monastery at Kells, County Meath. It is unknown whether they had started their gospel book before or after this raid.

The monks killed 185 calves to create the 340 vellum folios they need for their book. On those vellum pages they transcribed 4 gospels in Latin from the Vulgate text using swan-quill pens.

Book of Kells ChiRho FolioScholars, Catholics, and book lovers celebrate this book for the highly colorful and ornate artwork that the monks used to commemorate the text.

For nearly 8 centuries, the Book of Kells sat atop the high alter of the monastery church at Kells. A monastery priest read from the book during special masses.

In 1654, Oliver Cromwell’s Protestant forces approached the Kells monastery. Fearing that the army might find and destroy this treasure, someone smuggled it out of the monestary and took it to Dublin for safe keeping.

Trinity College came into possession of the book sometime between 1654 and the mid-19th century, when the college first placed the book on display.

In 1953, book conservators rebound the book into 4 volumes to help with its continued preservation.


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Guinness Storehouse

Liz at Guinness GatesGreetings from Dublin!

Tim had to travel to Dublin, Ireland for work this week, so I gladly tagged along to take in the sites of Ireland’s capital city.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my adventures with you.


First Stop: Guinness Storehouse

Tim and I arrived in Dublin at about 4:30 am Irish time, which was 11:30pm EST.

We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel, checked in, and got approximately 2 hours of sleep before we rose to tour the city and adjust our circadian rhythms 5 hours ahead.

Needless to say, we spent most of Saturday looking and feeling like zombies.

This made the Guinness Storehouse the perfect first stop.


Arthur GuinnessBrief History of the Guinness Brewery

Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate in 1759.

Arthur built his brewery on leased land. He chose the site because of its ability to draw water from the outlying Wicklow Mountains.

The lease terms Arthur signed stipulated that he would lease the land for 9,000 years and that he and his heirs would pay £45/year in rent. (Guinness later nullified its lease by purchasing the land.)

Not long after opening his brewery, a friend sent Arthur a barrel of porter, which was coming into fashion. Arthur developed his stout recipe to appeal to porter drinkers.

By 1868, Guinness became the largest brewery in the world.

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Boston Historical Events for the Week of April 14, 2013

Boston Historical Events: A list of history-related events taking place in Boston between Monday, April 14 and Sunday, April 20, 2014.

Boston AthenaeumBoston Athenaeum

url-1Thursday, April 17, 12-1pm, Author Talk, Free

Near the start of the 19th century, a group of eminent American Protestant ministers formed a grand scheme for gathering the rest of mankind into the fold of Christian civilization. Its core project: a school for “heathen children” drawn from all parts of the earth, including the Pacific Islands, China, India, and the native nations of North America. John Demos will discuss his new book, The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic. Demos will tell the story of how the marriage of 2 Cherokee students to local, Christian women tested the public’s resolve toward the school and its fundamental ideals.


BPLBoston Public Library

1395951730000-Long-Mile-Home-FINALThursday, April 17, 6-7pm, Author Talk, Copley Square Branch, Free

Scott Helman and Jenna Russell will discuss their new book, Long Mile Home: Boston Under Attack, the City’s Courageous Recovery, and the Epic Hunt for Justice. In their book, Helman and Russell chart the gripping story of the tragic, surreal, and ultimately inspiring week of April 15, 2013. The authors highlight the bravery, resourcefulness, and resiliency of the Boston community before, during, and after the tragic Marathon Bombings.


MHSMassachusetts Historical Society

Tuesday, April 15, 5:30-7pm, History of Women and Gender Seminar, Schlesinger Library, Free, RSVP Required

Gloria Whiting (Harvard University) will present “‘How can the wife submit?’ African Families Negotiate Gender and Slavery in New England.” Whiting’s paper discusses the ways in which the everyday realities of slavery shaped gender relations in Afro-New England families. Although New England slave families focused on the matriarch, many of these families nonetheless exhibited a number of patriarchal tendencies. Whiting’s work shows how enslaved African families in New England complicate the assumptions made by many scholars about how the structure of slave families defined their normative values. Barbara Krauthamer (UMass, Amherst) will comment.

(The MHS rescheduled this seminar from its original February 13, 2014 date due to snow.)

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Getting Access: Internet Archive

library-cloudWelcome to Getting Access, a series devoted to helping you obtain the digital records you need.

Have you ever searched for a book online only to find that Google Books does not have the antiquarian tome you were looking for?

If so, you should give the Internet Archive a try.

In fact, the Internet Archive contains digital records that will help all historians, no matter what period you study.

In this post you will learn what the Internet Archive is and why it is an excellent digital resource for historians.


Internet Archive

Internet-ArchiveFounded in 1996, the Internet Archive is an internet library that offers historians, researchers, and members of the general public “permanent access” to historical collections.

The goal of the Internet Archive is to create a comprehensive archive of our 21st-century digital world. It has partnered with several institutions, including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian to ensure the preservation of the Internet’s digital record.

Its digital archive includes historical texts, audio, videos, software, and archived webpages.

The Internet Archive strives to provide free, open access to literature and other writings that society has deemed essential to its education and maintenance.


Records: Antiquarian Books

The Internet Archive provides digital access to many antiquarian books.

In addition to conducting it own scanning projects at libraries such as the Boston Public Library, the Internet Archive has indexed many books from the Google Books Project.

Internet-Archive-1This indexing can be helpful when you search for a book as the Internet Archive’s search engine will turn up results in both the Internet Archive database and the Google Books library.

With that said, the Internet Archive has not indexed every book in the Google Books library.

I have also found variations in the holdings of Google Books and the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive sometimes has books that Google Books does not and vice versa.

Therefore, I usually search the Internet Archive first, but if my search does not turn up the book I am looking for, I will try a search in Google Books directly.

When you find a book you want to read, the Internet Archive will provide you with links to all available file formats. These formats include: PDF, Black-and-White PDF, ePub, Kindle, Daisy, Full Text, Metadata, DjVu. Not every book is available in every file format.

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Why I Want to Start a Podcast

Podcast-MicOver the last 9 months or so my brain has been stuck on the idea that I want to start a podcast.

The podcast provides a perfect medium to convey historical knowledge to a wide audience and for research-driven historians to interact with the larger public.

In this post you will learn why I think starting a podcast is a good idea and about the work I need to do before I launch one.

I hope you will read this post to the end as my idea still needs refining and I could really use your feedback on it.


Why A Podcast?

smartphoneSocial media authorities such as Michael Stelzner have declared 2014 to be the “Year of the Podcast.”


In 2014, smartphone ownership by adults will increase to over 50%. Additionally, smartphone manufacturers and app providers such as Apple and Google are making it easier for smartphone owners to find, subscribe to, and download podcasts.*

Podcasts allow listeners to create a customized radio station that will always play topics they find interesting on a schedule that conforms to their needs.


There’s An Interest in History

People are interested in history.

As History Camp, C-Span’s American History TV, and the many television shows based in historical periods (Downtown Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, Turn, Outlander, and Sleepy Hollow, to name but a few) demonstrate, people want to interact with and learn more about their history.

History Camp and American History TV, in particular, also show that history lovers want to interact and connect with historians.

The podcast market underserves these history-minded people.

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