Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

At this time of seasonal indulgence, I just had to share something with you from the Wellcome Trust blog's "Film of the Month" produced by the Scottish Health Education Unit in 1978. Apart from digging those 1970s fashions, look out for a very young Gregor Fisher (famous as Rab C. Nesbitt) overdoing it down the pub.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Veterinary medicine reports now available for free

I'm delighted to announce that 146 volumes of Veterinary medicine reports are now available on the Medical History of British India website. Click here to browse and search 40,000 pages for free.

The Veterinary collection covers 1864-1959, focusing on veterinary diseases, colleges and laboratories and Civil Veterinary Departments. This free to access, important material provides extensive research on animal diseases such as surra and rinderpest. Detailed reports show how veterinary medicine was used by the British colonists to control disease, maintain livestock and alleviate famine and its effect on military and local communities.

Illustrated with many photographs, maps and charts, this material will be useful to those interested in veterinary science, military medicine, animal husbandry and agriculture.

A new viewing function enables up to 30 pdf pages to be selected and then 'stitched' together for easier reading.

The material, from the National Library's India Papers collection, was microfilmed and digitised using a grant from the Wellcome Trust.

(Picture is from the Indian Journal of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, volume 10, 1940, part I. Image number:

Monday, 12 December 2011

Public Health in India

New to the NLS is Public Health in India, which analyses the current health scenario of the population of India. The book introduces the history of public health in India from the 1860's Sanitary Commissions through Acts and censuses to the twenty-first century scope of public health.

India's government has taken steps to improve and develop the health of its citizens, yet obstacles still exist, such as ignorance and lack of health services particularly in rural areas. This book examines the impact of socio-economical background, gender and lifestyle on the health of India's population today.

While the Medical History of British India website gives users the chance to examine these issues in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries under British rule, this book enables readers to assess the current public health situation in India.

Public Health in India is at NLS shelfmark OP1.211.40

(Picture of book's front cover from

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A dedicated Medical History of British India blog

The National Library of Scotland is now hosting a blog solely dedicated to the Medical History of British India Online project.
The blog will cover topics such as digitisation issues, updates of the project's progress in microfilming, digitisation and OCR, medical history and modern health issues and India.
The Wordpress blog appears here on the Medical History of British India website and is listed here on the NLS blogs page.
The blog also features pages about the current specifications for the project which may be useful to those involved in digitisation projects.

Comments about the project and blog are most welcome!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Last Slave Market

Last Slave Market

I attended a talk in the NLS by Alister Hazell who discussed his research into the life of the Scottish explorer Dr John Kirk, who fought against the slave trade in East Africa including the infamous Zanzibar slave market which closed in 1873. There was a House of Commons Commission set up and I thought it would be interesting to look at this parliamentary paper. I decided to use the on-line electronic resource called HCPP which stands for the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. It is a full-text digital archive to the 19th and 20th century House of Commons parliamentary papers, 1801 to 2000, with an index of papers to 2004. It also includes debates, proceedings and reports of the committees and outside bodies on public affairs.
I did a simple search using the words: slave, trade, Zanzibar and dates 1870, 1874
And the wealth of information that appeared on my screen was amazing.
I found the actual treaty that mentioned Dr John Kirk and the suppression of the slave trade, but also found House of Commons and Lords Hansard extracts.
I usually prefer looking at the paper copy as there is something exciting about opening an old volume of parliamentary papers, but for the convenience at getting all the information I need on my screen HCPP is excellent and saves a lot of time.
Note on licensed digital collections
When you register with the National Library of Scotland you have free access to an extensive range of licensed digital collections. If your main address is in Scotland you can also use many of these resources from any computer outwith NLS. You can also use a number of open access resources without registering.
Picture credit:-

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Painter at the court of Milan

The landmark Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in London, which examines his career as a painter in Milan, is thought to be one of the most popular art exhibitions ever. The National Gallery is showing more than half of all the surviving da Vinci paintings and seven paintings which have never been shown publicly before. These, alongside many drawings, offer a unique opportunity to compare his works and understand his influences.
I won't be able to travel to London to see it and I believe that tickets are now scarce so I was very pleased to see the exhibition catalogue book arrive in the OPU office last week.
The book focuses on the period in the 1480s and 1490s when Leonardo was working as a salaried court artist to Duke Ludovico Sforza in Milan. During this time, freed from the commercial pressures of Florence, Leonardo produced some of his most influential work. The book has large glossy illustrations and detailed analyses of these - his two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks, The Last Supper and The Lady with an Ermine together with details and drawn studies.
There are essays on Leonardo's service to the Duke of Milan, his painting technique and studies of other works in the catalogue.
Leonardo set a new standard when he was in Milan; his style became the visual language of the regime through his ideals of beauty and his theories of expression and character.

Leonardo da Vinci: painter at the court of Milan by Luke Syson (et al) is at NLS shelfmark OP4.211.2 and the National Gallery exhibition runs until 5th February 2012.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Sign up for the flusurvey!

The flusurvey is an online system for measuring influenza trends in the UK and it is now live for the
2011/12 flu season. Anyone can register for free, fill out the survey, and help scientists track the spread of flu this winter.

In contrast to traditional surveillance methods, the flusurvey collects data directly from the general public, rather than via hospitals or GPs. This is particularly important because many people with flu don't visit a doctor.

The influenza virus changes every year and no two influenza epidemics are the same. The flusurvey means that information on a new epidemic can be quickly assimilated and used to plan a targeted response to mitigate the worst effects of influenza epidemics.

Each week, participants report any flu-like symptoms they have experienced since their last visit. The site provide participants with regular updates on the epidemic, all the latest news and advice about flu. There are maps and even 'epidemic games'. If you are feeling well enough to play them, that is....

(Image shows 'Counterplague' game from

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Nuclear Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has responded to the latest IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report on Iran's nuclear programe, saying that Iran will not cease its nuclear development programme.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Reach for the sky

I found this House of Commons parliamentary paper when looking for something else. It was the title "Report from the Select Committee on Sky-writing"that grabbed my attention and from then on I was captivated by it. The item is from a bygone era compared to nowadays where we are so used to all sorts of technology and advertising.
The Committee that produced this paper was appointed to consider the use of appliances for projecting writing, and other displays on the sky, or for broadcasting speech or other sounds from aircraft.
The Committee, when discussing smoke writing, sees no harm in this and indeed states that “perhaps only in a small measure, provides employment for pilots.”
However, private sky writing should be prohibited on a Sunday and in certain cases when there are parades and demonstrations.
However, Sky shouting did not have such a favourable result, it had not met with commercial success in foreign countries, and “in any case the objectionable character of sky shouting as described by those who have heard it, is beyond question.” Raucous noise therefore would be forced on anyone whether they would wish it or not so the committee put its foot down on that idea.
Night sky writing has a number of problems associated with it, clouds are needed, but not all clouds will do plus there was the problem about timing, in the summer it is too light.
There is also a danger for coastal navigation. It is a shame that the estimated time of one hour per night that is suitable for sky projection could not be checked by the Committee.
There are 186 pages of evidence that goes with the report not even including the appendixes.
This House of Commons paper was no 95 in session 1931-32 and was printed on 23rd June 1932.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Armistice day

We're planning a major exhibition for 2014 to commemorate World War I. I've been reading a lot on the subject, and one book which caught my eye was "The Quick and the Dead" by Richard van Emden.
At the end of the First World War more than 192,000 wives had lost their husbands, and nearly 400,000 children had lost their fathers. A further half a million children had lost one or more siblings. One in eight wives died within a year of receiving news of their husband's death.
Richard van Emden has produced his book from many interviews with families of those lost in the Great War, as well as diaries and letters.
Through the stories in this groundbreaking history, we realise not just what became of our grandfathers but how their experiences influenced the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of a generation that they left at home.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Accessing a treasure trove of images

British India in the Early 20th Century

© RCAHMS. Licensor

I was very pleased to place around 100 Medical History of British India images on SCRAN earlier this year. SCRAN, part of the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, is an online learning resource service hosting 360,000 images, movies and sounds from museums, galleries, archives and the media.

The NLS images form part of SCRAN's Scottish Cemetery in India web exhibition which went live on the 5th October 2011. There are also excellent images taken from glass plate negatives showing scenes from early twentieth century Bengal like the one above.

SCRAN is available to UK educational institutions by subscription. But if you hold a National Library of Scotland reader's ticket you can access it in the George IV Bridge Reading Room. If you wish to browse in the comfort of your own armchair and are a member of the wonderful Edinburgh City Libraries you can view SCRAN by clicking on here and typing in your borrower number.
Open University students can also access SCRAN as part of their online learning package.

SCRAN also hosts many fine images from the V&A museum, whose publications feature in OPU's collection and on this very blog.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Fox hunting

Those of you interested in the furore over Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox's friendship with Adam Werritty should take a look at The guide to the rules relating to the conduct of Members(pdf, 57 pages, 529 kb).

Mr Werritty had accompanied Dr Fox on almost a third of his ministerial trips overseas and had business cards describing himself as an advisor to the Secretary of State for Defence. When Dr Fox was the shadow health minister Werritty described himself as a health policy advisor. Dr Fox has aplogised for his "lack of judgement" but there is an inquiry into the matter. Watch this space.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Fewer than nine lives

Medieval Cats, new to OPU's collection this week.

Cats are illustrated in medieval manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages, often in exquisite detail. Medieval cats were viewed as treasured pets, as fearsome mousers, as canny characters in fables, as associates of the Devil and as magical creatures. A medieval cat had fewer than nine lives to toy with - danger was never far around the corner, whether in the form of a fur-trader or by being burnt alive in popular celebrations.

This charming book, published by the British Museum, features an array of fascinating images of cats in medieval manuscripts. The book also includes anecdotes about cats - both real and imaginary - to provide an interesting picture of the life of the cat and its relationship with humans in the medieval world.

(Text adapted from front flap of book)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cluck, Cluck!

Cluck, cluck!
I have just finished cataloguing this item. The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive which is full of eggciting facts! Did you know that in 2010 the UK produced 9,023 million eggs? Around 31 million eggs are eaten in the UK per day, which is roughly 182 eggs per person. I didn’t realise I ate so many eggs.
The UK is about 80% self sufficient in shell eggs and egg products. I would have thought we would have been 100% self sufficient!
This European Union Directive 1999/74/EC will ban the use of the conventional cages more commonly known as battery cages. A conventional battery cage contains around five birds, each bird’s space is less than an A4 piece of paper.
The UK egg production industry is expected to pay around £400 million to become compliant. The worry is that the European Commission has indicated that around one third of EU production will not comply by 2012.
The traceability of egg products is a major problem the concern is about the potential damage that will be done to compliant egg producers. Retailers and producers will need to play an important role in ensuring that they are only importing compliant eggs and egg products.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 draws near, I thought it was worth reminding our readers that we hold the 911 Commission report as well as the superb graphic interpretation of the report .

We also have the 4-volume set of the proceedings and analysis, which is the complete testimony to the Commission hearings, including key witness statements (ranging from officials to victims’ families), biographies of the Commission members and analysis of the findings of the final report.

The records of the 911 Commission (or more correctly, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States), are maintained on their website, where you can find lots of extra information.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Literary Scotland

“Language of the Land”, a book of literary maps held by the Library of Congress (LoC) has somewhat belatedly arrived in OPU. There are several Scotland-related entries, including a Poetry Map of Edinburgh (by the Scottish Poetry Library – you can see it here in NLS); a map of Scotland illustrating Shakespeare’s Macbeth; an official tourist map of Burns’ country; a Sherlock Holmes “mystery map” with some lovely illustrations including the Hound of the Baskervilles and Holmes’s fight with Professor Moriarty. It completes our printed collections relating to the exhibition – we already have the exhibition pack.
The LoC also has an online exhibition along similar lines, relating only to America.

Friday, 5 August 2011

All the fun of the Festival

August is the month when the world-famous Edinburgh Festivals kick off. The Edinburgh International Festival was started in 1947 by Rudolf Bing, then the General Manager of Glyndebourne Opera, Henry Harvey Wood the Head of the British Council in Scotland, and a group of civic leaders from the City of Edinburgh.

Working in the wake of the Second World War, the founders had a vision of a Festival that could enliven and enrich the cultural life of Europe, Britain and Scotland and 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit'.
The Festival's founders also recognised that, if the Festival succeeded in its artistic ambitions, it would create a major new source of tourism revenue for Edinburgh and for Scotland.
This founding principle - that a world class cultural event, which brings together audiences and artists from around the world, would also generate significant cultural, social and economic benefits for Edinburgh and Scotland - is as relevant today as it was over 60 years ago (Text from Festival website).

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, known simply as The Fringe, was also established in 1947, as an alternative to the International Festival. Featuring theatre, comedy, music and dance, it has grown enormous, with over 2,000 shows crammed into 3 weeks.
It showcases more experimental productions and comedy acts in particular have multiplied in recent years. The population of Edinburgh is usually just under half a million, but in August just as many visitors come to the Festivals. So it is a real squeeze just getting around then...!

The Scottish Screen Archive have a lovely film to view online from 1965. It shows excerpts from the Edinburgh International Festival, including plays, opera, ballet and the famous fireworks.

The National Library of Scotland collects Edinburgh Fringe (Festival) ephemera each year, which includes flyers, leaflets, programmes and tickets.

Some of the Library's Festival material is in a small display in the cases outside the doors to the Reading Room at George IV Bridge. The display is based on the photo feature in the current issue of Discover NLS and includes some examples of guides, programmes, and ephemera from various early International, Film, Fringe, and Book Festivals.

(Picture credit:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Flight of the Hog Wild

A recent enquiry about the Indian Medical Service led me into a fascinating World War II journey which began with an American B-29 bomber.
On August 29th 1945 the Hog Wild was on a POW supply mission when it was shot down by Soviet fighters. Its 13-man crew was interned in Konan POW camp (now Hungnam, North Korea) for sixteen days while Soviet and American commanders negotiated for their release.
The camp already held 354 Allied POWs (mostly British) who were captured during the fall of Singapore in 1942. One of the prisoners was Canadian Major Harry V. Morris (pictured below), who had served in the Indian Medical Service.

Born and educated in Newfoundland, Morris graduated with a medical degree (with surgery specialty). He spent several months studying at London's Royal Military College before arriving in India in early 1939. He was stationed at the Indian General Hospital, Lahore and then moved to No. 12 Indian General Hospital in Malaya.

It is thought that he was captured by the Japanese in February 1941, held first in the notorious Changi Prison in Singapore and then in a North-East Korean POW camp. His wife and two children escaped Singapore. Major Morris was transferred to Konan, imprisoned by the Japanese for a further two years; he was one of five Allied officers at the camp. The men laboured long hours under extremely hazardous and strenuous conditions at a nearby carbide factory (pictured below), although the Japanese wouldn't permit an officer from doing any work of the sort. The crew of the Hog Wild were released in mid-September 1945; Major Morris and his fellow POWs were finally freed and repatriated a week later. The aircraft crew talked to the American Press, revealing the people, places and events surrounding the downing of the B-29.

You can read much more about the Hog Wild in a forthcoming book and the book's comprehensive website.

Thanks to Bill Streifer (New York) and Heather Home (Queen's University Archives) for the information. The photo of Major Morris was supplied by John Mill, son of Lieut. Ronald Mill, the sole Australian officer at the camp. Photo of the Hog Wild taken from The Flight of the Hog Wild website.

Monday, 11 July 2011

They're books, Jim, but not as we know them

Out of this World: science fiction but not as you know it by Mike Ashley explores how science fiction has responded to the impact of science, technology and socio-political changes.
This glossy British Library paperback is divided into six sections - Alien Worlds, Parallel Worlds, Future Worlds, Virtual Worlds, Perfect Worlds and The End of the World. Some of my favourites which feature are - The Matrix film trilogy, The Day of the Triffids, Dune, The Handmaid's Tale and Nineteen Eighty-Four. With lavish colour pictures this publication showcases books, film and magazines which are all designed to make us think,"what if...?"
And now I have a list of more interesting sci-fi to to boldly watch and read!

The British Library Out of this World free exhibition runs until 25th September.

Discover the book at shelfmark: OP6.211.62/26

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Phone hacking scandal

There'll be an Emergency debate in the House of Commons today (6th July) on the current phone hacking scandal surrounding the 'News of the World', using the provisions of Standing Order 24.

Standing Orders are the rules made by both Houses of Parliament for the regulation of their proceedings. Standing Order 24 allows an MP to make an application for the House of Commons to:
"debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration. If the Speaker is satisfied that the matter is proper to be so debated, the Member shall either obtain the leave of the House, or, if such leave be refused, the assent of not fewer than forty Members who shall thereupon rise in their places to support the motion, or, if fewer than forty Members and not fewer than ten shall thereupon rise in their places, the House shall, on a division, upon question put forthwith, determine whether such motion shall be made."

Friday, 10 June 2011

Audit trail

As I have been auditing the parliamentary papers, I was reminded of the diverse collection of subjects discussed by Parliament. Normally the parliamentary papers that stick in my head concern current legislation eg Rosemary Nelson inquiry report or ones which cause a media stir such as MPS expenses.
It is only when you are auditing or doing enquiries on the older items that the more unusual subjects are bought to your attention, for example, one enquiry I dealt with was about the amendment of the health and morals of Apprentices Act, and the state and condition of chidren employed in cotton manufactories.
The following items are a few of the interesting things I found in the many volumes we have in the collection:
One volume (PP 1847-48 vol XXXV) is about prisons of Great Britain. I was particulary impressed with the dietary facts - if the prisoners were doing hard labour they were entitled to 1 pint of soup per week, the soup was made from the liquor of meat with peas, oatmeal and vegetables. Gruel, by the way, contained 3 ounces of oatmeal per quart!
Disturbance in Hyde Park, (PP 1856 vol. XXIII),contains all the information from the inquiry with one paragraph stating; "the confinement of the prisoners in Vine Street Station during the night is a painful part of our enquiry."
Apparently 43 people were shut up in a basement cell without proper ventilation, water on the floor and an open convience in one corner. One person who had to stay 2 nights in a cell reported that he has never been well since.
Another volume I was intrigued by was about cholera (PP 1850 vol XXI) under the heading "Fatal effects of emanations from town refuse," it explained, "those noxious matters are collected by a number of persons who make a trade of accumulating and selling them for agricultural purposes and they have become so accustomed to live amongst this horrible garbage, that they not only heap it up against the walls and immediately under the windows of the houses." Ugh!

This photo is part of a plan of Glasgow showing locations of cholera hospitals and districts most affected by cholera are marked with the blue lines.
These are just a few of the fascinating items I have recently seen, offering a wealth of information about living and social conditions in the past.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Scary Spider

As I was auditing I came across this book, A decade of Japanese underground activities in the Netherland East Indies

the picture on the cover made me stop and look at it.
It was issued for the Netherland Government Information Bureau by HMSO in 1942.
This is about the history of the war with Japan and the Netherlands East Indies why it started, the Japanese aggression, the propaganda that was used for the preparation of an invasion, the economic assault and the espionage involved.
I was particularly struck by the quote on the inside page.
“Time was when the ancient and noble rule of Bushido (the Road of the Warrior) withheld Japan from dishonourable action….Japan has branded herself among the nations as a country that knows only one law : the law of the jungle.”
On leafing through the book I came across the heading the Inclusion of Japanese Residents in the Espionage System. It mentions that the greater part of the Japanese community in the Netherlands Indies were hard-working and quiet immigrants. They held themselves away from the subversive and spying activities and gave the police little trouble. That is until after the Manchurian expedition and the subsequent disapproving vote of the League of Nations in 1933, when Japan became isolated and took a hostile attitude towards the Western Powers.
The Japanese abroad were asked to put themselves and their jobs at the disposal of Japan’s military aspirations.
This booklet is a fascinating insight to written propaganda in the Second World War.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Alpines in your garden

As a keen gardener I particularly enjoy the books that come to us from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Alpines from mountain to garden is about how plant hunters found, catalogued and collected alpine plants in the different geographical regions of the world and then managed to recreate the conditions for the alpines to grow in gardens.
It is easy to forget when you visit a garden centre and look at the alpines where they actually originated from and how hard it was for the plant collectors to find them, bring them back and then learn to grow them.
I have tried so many times to grow the Meconopsis baileyi plant (a Himalayan blue poppy) in my garden and never succeeded however, after reading the information on this plant I will try once more and hopefully this time with success!
The book is packed with glorious pictures of alpines, detailed information on the plants, where it was found, and horticultural notes to help you grow your own.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Designed for action

Cataloguing retroconversion of American items has revealed this beauty from 1947. Called "Dresses and aprons for work and in the home" it was published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and written by a clothing specialist and scientific aid. Aimed at "homemakers," it shows how to make practical clothing "designed for action" which are easy to put on without mussing the hair, are comfortable yet becoming.
The photo below shows the "basket apron," ideal for carrying eggs or beans.

Here is the "mop apron," which holds the skirt out of the way of mop water.

And here is a dress made for "girls and young homemakers." Styled for comfort, it also keeps the wearer cool.

Gentleman need not feel left out; there is a pocketed apron designed for the man of the house. Finally, for those ladies who "run little errands in and out of doors", there is even a "kitchen jacket" with "action pleats" so there will be no restriction to applying elbow grease!

(All photos from "Dresses and aprons for work and in the home" at shelfmark F1/AC.14)

Friday, 11 March 2011

Ring the changes

More from OPU's retro cataloguing boxes this week! These Post Office publications demonstrate how image and design were being used to recruit staff. They also reflect the changes in the industry at the time. The recruitment leaflet from 1971 looks like this: The leaflet looks like this in 1972: The people in the photos look more glamorous and the photos more polished. The clashing orange background has been replaced by a less eye-wrenching colour. Unlike the leaflets for telephonists issued at the same time, these are aimed at both men and women. Perhaps the newer, revamped leaflet's function was to boost the Post Office's recruitment as they expanded in the early 1970's. The Post Office was busy selling itself to its potential employees: "Or else you are working on management duties...which is every bit as interesting!" This large expansion was due to the Post Office Act 1969. Services separated and became specialized for greater efficiency, with exchanges growing in size and technology to accomodate STD and international dialling. Ten years later the Conservatives split telecommunications away from the Post Office. In 1981 the British Telecommunications Act saw the creation of British Telecom. (Photos show 'Become a telecommunications traffic officer' leaflets from 1971 & 1972, shelfmark GPD.21)

Another day at the office

So, here is a glimpse of life in the OPU office! Hope you appreciate our fab retro clothing.
Only joking - these are photos from 1970's Post Office recruitment leaflets, although the retro part applies to the cataloguing, which my colleagues have been doing.

These colourful publications tell us a lot about attitudes to women in the workplace as well as showcasing some groovy fashions. The 1971 leaflet declares that any lady between 15 and 59 years old can be a "telephone girl." The tone of the language reveals that women were seen to be seeking employment which involved "helping people, smoothing out their troubles," but was fun and sociable: "You will be at the centre of'll work with lots of friendly girls, all as nice as you, in pleasant surroundings. Sounds good, doesn't it."
Compare this with the leaflet for men: "It is interesting work - STD handles all routine calls - with friendly people. It is the sort of job which might suit you very will give you a profitable skill."
However, after the Equal Pay Act 1970 came into force in 1975, the leaflets reflect a change in attitude. "Dial the World as a day telephonist" from 1978 is aimed at both sexes and there is no reference to ladies' working hours giving them time for "that special hair-do or shopping spree."

Watch out for more retro gems as my colleagues continue to update the catalogue.

(Photos show parts from Clerical Officer leaflet (1972) and a selection of Post Office leaflets from OPU's collection, shelfmark GPD.21)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Feast your eyes on thousands of pictures of wild animals

These were all captured by motion-triggered cameras and brought together by the Smithsonian into one database. The photographs are from various projects around the world featuring various exotic creatures going about their normal behaviour, from cats in Panama to pandas in China.

The Smithsonian is functionally part of the United States federal government and is therefore "official". It's the largest organisation of its kind in the world with 16 museums & galleries, 10 research centres and even a zoo. The Official Publications Unit has Smithsonian publications from the 1850s onwards. If you want to learn more about this wonderful institution, you can read The first hundred years of the Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1946 by the wonderfully named Webster P. True.
(Picture copyright Smithsonian Institution)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Take a look at this!

The National Library of Scotland’s web feature The Medical History of British India has been updated with a further 130 medical reports from the India Papers collection. These rare and exciting documents cover c.1850-1950 and are available online free of charge. They include reports on epidemics, public and army health, drugs and medicines, plus the workings of medical colleges, laboratories and lock hospitals.

Users can search and browse by keyword or by facets such as people, places, year and subject. Users can also choose to confine searches to individual chapters or expand to volume or collection level. The option of searching book content can find names of people or more obscure diseases. Transcriptions of pages are available, together with jpegs and pdfs which can be downloaded. Users can share and bookmark pages via Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Delicious.

Detailed maps, charts and extensive tables show regional histories of disease and the role of government as well as providing an insight into the development of western medicine in a colonial context. During the last decade there has been a lively interest in colonial medicine; this online resource is aimed at medical, social, military and colonial historians, historians of South Asia and also genealogists.

I’m thrilled to say that this is not the end, as in the coming years we’ll be adding British Raj reports concerning Veterinary medicine, Vaccination and Lunatic Asylums.

I’d like to thank many of my National Library of Scotland colleagues, particularly the Digital Library staff, for making this possible. We are also most grateful to the Wellcome Trust for their generous funding.

You can also find the digitised India Papers in the National Library of Scotland's Digital Archive.

(photo credit: Wellcome Images)

Friday, 28 January 2011

The King's Speech

The movie concentrates on the King's stammer, his efforts to overcome this and deliver an unprecedented radio broadcast on the outbreak of World War II. The intention had been to distribute copies of the speech to every household (the first lines emphasise the King's wish to address "each one of you"), but this was abandoned on grounds of cost. This edition is No. 1 in a series of publications from the Ministry of Information, and also includes statements from President Moscicki of Poland, Neville Chamberlain and others. There are also summaries of correspondence between the UK and Germany (the latter also contained in command paper Cmd.6102)during August and September, with the chilling conclusion that the two countries were at war as from 11 a.m., 3rd September.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

What's been keeping the Lords awake all night?

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, that's what. Ostensibly a move to restore the public's faith in parliament, the coalition government have long wanted changes in the way people vote, for different reasons: the Liberal-Democrats have always favoured proportional representation over the current "first-past-the-post" system, and the Conservatives want to limit the number of MPs. The Bill had its first reading in the Commons in July last year and is now nearing its final hearing in the Lords.

However, the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee commented "The Government has declared that the Parliamentary Systems and Constituencies Bill is intended as a "major step" towards restoring people's faith in Parliament. The Government's failure to consult on the provisions in this Bill risks undermining that laudable intention."
The Lords debated for a whopping 20 hours last night and today, requiring overnight arrangements in the House, amid accusations that the Labour party were deliberately obstructing the Bill.

You can get a Lord's eye-view at their blog.