Library

Showing posts with label Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arts. Show all posts

2 October 2017

#PhDshelfie: Encountering remarkable medieval women in the Matheson

Inspired by the #PhDshelfie movement, we asked a few Monash PhD students to share their 'shelfies' and reflect on the books that have become most meaningful to them during their candidature. The second piece in our #PhDshelfie series is written by Jennifer Lord, a doctoral candidate researching religious communities of lay women in 13th century Marseille. 


I have to admit, in response to Basil's article, that the books I borrow from the library aren’t like family! They are more like promising new acquaintances whom I enthusiastically embrace in the hope that we’ll soon get to know each other. This quickly morphs into guilt as they sit neglected on my desk because I haven’t made enough time for them in my schedule. 

Still, there are books on my topic that I have definitely enjoyed coming to know well, not least my main primary source. I’m researching a Beguine community established in Marseilles in the late thirteenth century. (Beguines were women who aimed to lead a celibate life of prayer and charitable work without permanently withdrawing from the world into a nunnery.) My community is described in a work written in old Occitan (Provençal) in the late 1200s, a work that was forgotten until the 1870s when its only known manuscript was translated into French. In 2001, it was published in English as The Life of Saint Douceline, A Beguine of Provence, and I was able to discover it in the Matheson. Trying to unlock the cultural and historical meanings of this text is at the heart of my research. 


To understand the heightened emotional and somatic spirituality of women like Douceline, I’ve also been exploring the Matheson’s collection of the Lives of other celebrated thirteenth-century women mystics, such as Lutgard, Margaret of Ypres and Christina ‘the Astonishing’. I’ve felt, though, that behind this handful of exceptional women must have stood many hundreds of ordinary laywomen/beguines whose deep piety was expressed in less remarkable ways. So I’ve really enjoyed discovering Partners in Spirit,  a collection of essays by Fiona Griffith and Julie Hotchins which shed light on numerous communities of less notable religious women in twelfth-century Germany, while also revealing the co-operation and collaboration of male clerics with these women, thereby challenging some received ideas about the workings of gender in medieval religious culture. 

The text I’ve found most useful for overall historical background on the beguines is Walter Simons’ Cities of Ladies, which puts northern Europe’s beguine communities into a social, economic as well as religious context. However, the stand-out, most rewarding encounter in my reading so far has been with Caroline Walker Bynum’s essay collection Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the Middle Ages, particularly her discussions of medieval religious conceptions of community and the individual. I’ve even bought my own copy because I know it will repay multiple readings.

And when I needed light relief but felt nervous about wasting time, I visited my topic as a tourist, via Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Against the backdrop of the conflict between Empire and Papacy, Eco takes the anxieties of the men* of faith about the outcomes of reason, the desire of the men of reason to hold on to faith, the world of the scriptorium and the library, of scrolls and codices, and rolls them all together in a murder mystery in the early fourteenth century. Great tour guide!


*Sadly, yes. There is only one woman in the entire book, and she is there as voiceless object-of-desire/occasion-of-sin.


Jennifer Lord is a PhD candidate in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies (SOPHIS). Her research topic is Les Dames de Roubaud: Contextualising a community of lay religious women in thirteenth-century Marseille. She also has a Masters degree in sociolinguistics and is  a professional editor and writer of many years’ standing, with publishing and communications experience in the community, public and private sectors. 



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21 September 2017

#PhDshelfie: What books and libraries mean to me

Inspired by the #PhDshelfie movement, we asked a few Monash PhD students to share their 'shelfies' and reflect on the books that have become most meaningful to them during their candidature. The first piece in our #PhDshelfie series is written by Basil Cahusac de Caux, a doctoral candidate researching language reform in post-war Japan. 


The books I borrow from the library are like family. I pick them up and take them home with me, create a space for them next to my desk at university, and regularly take them out for lunch. I would find it difficult to live without them… though their very existence sometimes causes me to doubt myself as a capable individual. My family’s real home – for the time being at least – is in the library, of which my favourite part is the collection of Japanese language books and journals housed in the recently renovated Matheson Library (Clayton Campus), which serves as a sanctuary of intellectual wealth and comedy. There I pick up books on Japanese language policy, written by the very individuals whose testimonies and actions I study as part of my doctoral thesis on language reform in Japan.

There’s the book on the Romanization of Japanese by Kayashima Atsushi, which forces me to dig deeper in my analysis to produce more meaningful research findings. There’s the book on language policy in China, which helps me reflect on the potential impact of language policy and education. And of course, there are the National Language Council Reports, which form the bedrock of my thesis’ conceptual landscape. I find in these accounts of language and society, glimpses of the ideal language speaker, language as an efficient conveyor of ideas and vehicle of culture, mixed in with disgruntled criticisms of the past and its feudal characteristics – usually dominated by malicious power relations and hierarchies.


When I’m lost I often turn to Galan’s chapter on the changes and continuities that occur in the Japanese education system after 1945 in Japan’s Postwar (Routledge, 2011), perhaps due to my inability to fathom the totality of the postwar experience (in Japan or any other country). This chapter offers a window into the political makings of society in the aftermath of defeat. It teaches me the importance of upholding compromise and tolerance as principles, both in theory and practice; a unilateral approach to a problem unfortunately often results in the weakening of the standing of others. The chapter serves as a constant reminder of the need for balance and compromise – two attributes that are often missing in my writing.

When I read, I read through the eyes of my mind. I take the time to enjoy the spaces I occupy so that I can best internalise the books I discover. The ideal space in which to do this is the library, which embraces people from all walks of life. It is where our ideas and emotions are challenged, where introspection and interaction are encouraged. It takes us in and (if we’re lucky) learns from our mistakes. If knowledge had legs with which to walk, then the library would be an open park, green, silent, and welcoming, waiting for new faces and fashions to grace its grounds. Some people leave, while others remain, to age with grace. (If libraries were parks and knowledge the human race, what would that make us?)

Basil Cahusac de Caux is a doctoral candidate at the School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies (SoPHIS), Monash University. He has conducted comparative research on the intellectual history of early and mid-20th-century linguists in the United Kingdom and Japan and is now focussed on the cultures and politics of language reform in postwar Japanese society. In his spare time, Basil runs the Kontemporary Japan Reading Group, a cross-institutional initiative promoting the discussion of Japan-related social issues and academic works.


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8 August 2017

'Secret files from World Wars to Cold War' database

Librarians Anna Rubinowski and Melanie Thorn let us in on a little known story from the Cold War era, as an example of what can be found by researchers using this database of secret files, available through the Library.


Attaching a dispatch on a carrier pigeon during the Cold War
On 14 August 1947, in the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Carrier Pigeons, held at the Ministry of Defence in London, Flight Lieutenant Walker informed the Committee that civilian member Captain Caiger had “invented a form of box, by means of which to launch pigeons from high speed aircraft, and that he had constructed a prototype”. The Committee, made up of representatives from various areas of the British Armed Forces, agreed that the Air Ministry should arrange trials of this prototype in consultation with M.I.5 and report back to the Committee.

The minutes of this top-secret meeting are part of the British government secret intelligence and foreign policy files available through Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War. Sourced from the U.K. National Archives, the database centres around the Permanent Under-secretary Department’s files documenting British intelligence activities from 1873 to 1951 and their influence on foreign policy. All files are full-text searchable and point to related content, making it easy to discover the fascinating stories that shaped world history in the 20th century.

Following the trail of the carrier pigeons, the files tell the story of the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee that was formed in November 1945 in response to General Menzies’ top secret memo summarising the use of pigeons in WWI by both sides (including that pigeons on parachutes were dropped over enemy-occupied zones with questionnaires for patriots, and that Abweher pigeon lofts were ‘contaminated’ by English pigeons disguised as German pigeons) and identifying a need to continue this work. The Committee’s role was to collect and circulate information on the latest developments in the area and to ‘be responsible for research, experimental work, and the training facilities required by personnel of the Intelligence Services’.

During its existence the Committee supported the publication of the ‘Pigeon Racing Gazette’ (through Caiger) in order to foster international contacts, tried to encourage pigeon racing from East to West as opposed to South to North, and mused whether experiments involving human powers of water-divining and coloured pieces of cotton on the face of a compass might be of interest in connection with the different coloured liquids in the eyes of pigeons.

Sadly, the Committee was unceremoniously disbanded in May 1950 because ‘the active use of pigeons was no longer contemplated by any of the potential user Departments’.

Caiger went on to publish ‘The secret of the eye’.

The purchase of the database was made possible through the Ada Booth Benefaction.








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22 May 2017

Insults in early modern Italy' - History Seminar in the Library 2017

Emma Swiney, Honours student, reports on this year's History Seminar in the Library.  

Watch the video of the full lecture below and view Jonathan's slides here.


Dr Jonathan Davies and guests view a Rare book display
 at 2017 Arts/Library History Lecture 

Among some beautiful examples of Early Modern pieces from the Matheson Library Rare Books collection, visiting historian Dr Jonathan Davies from Warwick University presented some of his research into the history of "Insults in Early Modern Italy".

In studying the history of insults in Early Modern Italy, one must contextualise these insults within the violence of the time. It is from this approach that Davies introduced us to Delle Considerationi e Dubitationi Sopra la materia delle mentite, e offese di parole ('Reflections and Doubts on the subject of Falsehoods and Verbal Insults') by Bolognese professor Camillo Baldi.

Davies has been working with this text, often overlooked by other scholars as a reprint of one of Baldi’s other works, as an alternative to the Judicial records that have most often been used to examine the history of insults. From this perspective Davies challenges the traditional conception of Early Modern insults as static and based around shared taboos, and instead posits that, based on research by Trevor Dean, the most powerful insults are, in fact, culturally specific.

Dr Jonathan Davies (R) Warwick University, with
 Peter Howard, Deputy Dean of Arts, Monash
Focussing on Early Modern Italy, these insults are directly related to a culture of honour, which is reflected in the levels of violence and violent crimes in Italy, more so than anywhere else in Europe during the same period. Davies uses evidence quoting homicide rates up to triple that of other contemporary European societies and, more recently, on research into the prevalence of factionalism and feuding in the Italian states. This type of violence shocked contemporaries, as reported by Sir Robert Dallington who travelled the Italian Peninsular in 1596-7. Dallington reported two ways that quarrels were often settled, being through Duals or Vendettas, the latter of which he says caused twenty-one deaths between Pisa, Siena, and Venice only during the time he was travelling in those cities. These two types of quarrels are intrinsically tied to the culture of honour throughout Italy at the time.

Nowhere else was this factionalist violence more pronounced than in Bologna, the city from which Baldi, the author of Davies’ focus text, was writing. Davies suggests that this was caused by the emasculation of the Bolognese aristocracy, upon the defeat of the city by Pope Julius II. The estimated homicide rate of the area quadrupled during this time, and it is in this context that Baldi wrote his Considerationi e Dubitationi. This work, wherein Baldi identifies situations that might arise, and theorizes the most appropriate outcome, was dedicated to the Bolognese Elite, indicating that the situation in Bologna was something that Baldi felt the need to comment on.




As Davies listed the focus of each of the numerous chapters in Baldi’s books, he asked that the audience consider which subjects Baldi highlighted or repeated most, and if there were any patterns they might notice. Additionally, the audience were asked to keep in mind how recent methodologies, such as Gender or Class, might be used to analyse the works. Certainly, notions of hierarchies (such as what do do when insult is handed down by a prince) and gendered concepts (seen in the many chapters on lovers and affairs) were clearly present throughout these texts.

Baldi’s Considerationi e Dubitationi reveals to us a wide range of insults which may have arisen in Early Modern Italy, and also examines the relationships between the quarrelling parties and how this may have affected the given situation. To conclude his presentation, Davies contended that, when looking at insults in this period, we need to examine texts such as Baldi’s alongside the often-used judicial texts, to get a richer view of the relationships between quarrelling parties.


The author:
Emma Swiney (@emma_swiney) is currently completing her Honours degree in History. Her research focuses on the formation of Identity in late-15th Century Florence, and how politically active men related themselves to their city through an understanding of Florentine traditions and history. She also commits some of her time to mentoring undergraduate students, especially in helping them to formulate questions for independent research. In the coming years she hopes to continue her studies in Renaissance history within the supportive framework of the Monash History Department.





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30 March 2017

VFG collection of musical scores at Monash

Have you been looking for repertoire for your ensemble or chamber group? You may find inspiration in a collection of over 1500 scores in the Sir Louis Matheson Library, says Jackie Waylen, the Subject Librarian for Music.


If you play a musical instrument, and have been seeking repertoire that is both excellent and perhaps a little less familiar, be it solo instrumental music, or music for your ensemble or chamber group, then you may wish to delve into the collection of over 1500 scores that were gifted to the Library by the Victorian Flute Guild in 2010. Over 300 of these scores have so far been catalogued, including solos, duets, trios, quartets and quintets. Flute music includes studies and exercises for improving technique, music for chamber groups with flute, and music for flute choir. Some of the scores have been digitised and will soon be available in a new online special collections repository.

Most of the works in the collection were composed in the 19th and 20th centuries. So, quite soon, a flautist and pianist will be able to access the fifth of Andersen's “Five easy pieces,” as it was published in 1894.

Some of the concert repertoire and pedagogical works were composed in the 18th century, but they appear in the collection as later editions. Many of the works are related to teaching. A survey of prominent flute teachers in North America and Europe, undertaken by Molly Barth, and published in The Flutist Quarterly in 2016, revealed that études were an "integral component of their teaching regimen". Of the 26 composers of études cited by these teachers, the Victorian Flute Guild's scores, which have so far been sorted, contain études by 17 of these composers.

The Victorian Flute Guild Collection includes many virtuosic concert pieces for flute and piano, and miniatures that would be suitable for encores. The range of European composers and publishers from the late 19th century is extraordinary, and so a finding aid for all the works is underway. Once the whole collection has been catalogued, performance students and others will certainly have an interesting collection to browse. 


The earliest works in the collection belonged originally to Leslie Barklamb (1905-1993) who, in 1969, founded the Victorian Flute Guild in order "to promote and encourage the learning of the flute, flute playing in all idioms, and to support all forms of music education". To attain this goal, a main aim was "to establish, build up and maintain a library of music of all types". Barklamb's personal library constituted a who's who of composers who both wrote for and played the flute, such as Andersen (1847-1909), Büchner (1825-1912), Doppler (1821-1883), Gariboldi (1833-1905) and Kuhlau (1786-1832). His library also included composers whose works or melodies have since been arranged for flute and piano.

In her centenary tribute to Leslie Barklamb, the current President of the Guild Mary Sheargold, refers to him as the "father of the flute in Australia." Over a teaching career of more than 65 years he taught many flautists who went on to become professional players (including some who had success overseas). Barklamb studied for two years (1917-1919) with John Amadio, an internationally renowned flautist, before learning from Alfred Weston-Pett. After obtaining a Diploma of Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium in 1925, Leslie Barklamb taught flute there (from 1929 to 1974), and he also played in Bernhard Heinze's University Orchestra and Alberto Zelman's Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. From 1958 onward he devoted his career to teaching, following hand problems and his retirement from the MSO. His pupils remember him as being a wonderfully enthusiastic teacher always happy to lend out his flutes and music. 


Amongst the countries represented in the Victorian Flute Guild Collection are Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Ada Booth benefaction has enabled the cataloguing of over 150 of the scores relating to Slavic countries. Australian composers represented range from John Lemmoné (1861-1949, born in Vic.) to, Geoffrey Allen (b. 1927, living in WA., and soon to add a woodwind CD to his existing Iridescent Flute.)

Scores added to the collection since the 1970s tend to include works that have a particular focus on ensemble music, from flute duets to flute choir works; for instance, Kummer's flute trios have been added from Annette Sloan's personal library.

Not all of the music is for flute. Students seeking repertoire for other instruments may be interested to browse the whole range. On the one hand you might retrieve a ricercare from a canon originally composed by Palestrina (1525-1565), but arranged in the 1950s for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn; or you might instead find violin music such as the Schubert lied, "Ständchen," arranged for violin and piano by Mischa Elman in 1910.

One can retrieve all the works that have been catalogued to date by entering "Victorian Flute Guild Collection" into Library Search. If "Leslie Barklamb" is added, then all the works that were part of Leslie Barklamb's personal library can be identified. To find trios, for example, enter "Victorian Flute Guild trios" and limit the result to scores. Or you might wish to look for Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" from Prince Igor, as arranged for piano.

Much of the earliest repertoire is in a fragile condition and needs to be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room. In the spirit of continuing Leslie Barklamb's and the Victorian Flute Guild's legacy, our Library has first set about digitising the repertoire that is not readily accessible elsewhere, so that performers, teachers and students can enjoy a wider range of solo and chamber music.

Researchers will also be able to look at those rarer works from the 19th century that reveal fascinating insights into the publishing and dissemination of printed music, especially of sheet music for flute.

The Library is also digitising the back covers of these scores. The covers often contain useful information, such as advertisements for other music that would have been available at the time of the publication (see example at left).



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1 February 2017

Women’s Letters and Diaries databases

The two resources featured here provide a valuable way to see into the past, says Melanie Thorn, Subject Librarian. 



Mary Queen of Scots is one of hundreds of writers whose
experiences are published here. 
British and Irish women's letters and diaries: 1500 to 1950, and its companion North American women's letters and diaries: colonial to 1950 are databases that reveal the personal experiences of over 400 British and more than 1300 North American women from various historical eras.

For example, the American database includes the story of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who enlisted in the confederate army as Harry T. Buford in the 1870s. She wrote of her experiences in battle and as a Confederate spy, and her arrest for ‘being a woman in disguise’. "There was, evidently, something suspicious and mysterious about me; and, suspicion having once been excited, some lynx-eyed detective was not long in noting certain feminine ways I had, and which even my long practice in figuring as a man had not enabled me to get rid of." [1] 

Not only does the story point out that women fought in the Civil War, but provides insight into cultural and social understandings of women and femininity.

Gerda Lerner, an American historian who was involved in the creation of the first graduate program in women’s history in the United States, was unimpressed at the lack of interest in the topic when she entered academia in the mid 1960s.  “In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist.” [2] This was replicated in terms of research, with Lerner noting that the number of historians interested in women's history “could have fitted into a telephone booth”. [3]

Thankfully this has changed, but primary sources written by women can still be difficult to find and this is what makes these databases so valuable.

The search tool in these databases is incredibly powerful and allows you to easily search for very specific content, for example, content written by widowed women who lived in New York city in the 1860s, or for women who were writing about a particular historical event, like the bombing of Pearl Harbour. A good example of the latter is the American, Natalie Stark Crouter, who was confined in a Japanese civilian camp in the Philippines with her businessman husband and their two children throughout World War II.

She writes,  "After the children left for school, we turned on the radio about 8:15 -- and heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While listening, we heard planes and went out as usual to see them. Almost over the house, quite high, came seventeen big bombers in formation. We could see them plainly and thought they were American. I remarked, "Well, we probably won't be standing here looking up at planes like this much longer. As they passed almost opposite the house, we heard a long ripping sound like the tearing of a giant sheet and saw an enormous burst of smoke and earth near officers' quarters at Camp John Hay -- the first bombing of the Philippines before our eyes." [4]

In addition to the raw material like this, the database also includes biographies of many of the authors, providing the context of people who would otherwise be little known in history.

The two Diaries and Letters databases are available through Library Search, and the Databases A-Z. Please contact your subject librarian if you would like more details or help in using the databases: Melanie Thorn (Clayton) or  Rod Rizzi (Caulfield).

To discover more primary source databases for history see the Primary Sources library guide.






[1] Loreta Velazquez, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Valazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieut. Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army, (Hartford, CT: T. Belknap 1876) 278,  [accessed 10 January]

[2] William Grimes, ‘Gerda Lerner, a Feminist and Historian, dies at 92’, The New York Times, 3 January 2013 [accessed 16 January 2016], (para 4 of 24)

[3] Grimes, New York Times

[4]Natalie Stark Crouter, Forbidden Diary: A Record of Wartime Internment, (New York, NY: Burt Franklin & Co. 1980) , [accessed 10 January]

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20 June 2016

Rare Books Week a must for book-lovers


Book lovers, local historians and collectors will be interested in the Melbourne Rare Books Week, to be held between July 14 and 24, 2016.

The mid-year program is a major attraction for book collectors, librarians and all who have a love of words, print on paper and literary heritage.

Monash is associated with a number of items on the program, with staff presenting topics including The Tyranny of Distance, 50 years on (Emeritus Prof Graeme Davison), Banned books exposed (Dr Patrick Spedding), Illustrated books (Stephen Herrin) and Keeping the originals (Professor Wallace Kirsop with a panel). Other speakers during the week include Emeritus Prof. Chris Browne, Adj Assoc Prof John Arnold, and former Rare Books Librarian Richard Overell.

Two of the free events are to be held at the Monash Law Chambers in Collins Street, while others are to be held at the State Library of Victoria, the Library at the Dock, the Supreme Court Library and other city venues.

All events are free, but bookings are needed in most cases. The full program and links for individual rsvps can be found on the web page.

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2 September 2015

Explore old texts in new ways

Read old texts as they were originally intended by their famous or non-famous authors, with Oxford Scholarly Editions Online , says Anne Melles, Subject Librarian for Literary Studies.


Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) has recently added three new modules of literature to its collection. These are extensive collections of Romantics Poetry and Romantics Prose, and a very limited collection of Romantics Drama.

Works from the most famous English and European Romantic authors and poets are included, for example, Byron, Goethe, Shelley,  and Dorothy and William Wordsworth.  In addition the modules contain the works of selected philosophers of the time, including Bolzano, Godwin, and Hegel.  The collection contains fascinating insights into the world of that time:
• Lord Byron saw the waltz as "a sign of indecorum, even depravity", and his poem, Waltz: An Apostrophic Hymn By Horace Hornem, Esq, conveys his distaste.
• What did Percy Bysshe Shelley have to say of Frankenstein, the famous Gothic horror penned by his wife, Mary Shelley? Read his review of her book.
• An alderman meets his untimely demise during a fantastical feast in this prose, attributed to William Hazlitt and inspired by the opulence of the Lord Mayor's Banquet.

Primary texts in OSEO are annotated by respected scholars, for example many of the Shakespeare texts are edited by Stanley Wells.  The annotations are both textual and background in nature and provide a much useful information for students working on assignments and scholars researching this period.

Oxford provide some excellent material to help researchers learn about OSEO. You can browse A-Z and chronologically by Author, Work and Edition. Click here to take a tour of the collection. 





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29 April 2015

WWII maps of Pacific preserved online

Monash University Research Repository has recently completed a mammoth project digitising   World War II maps and terrain studies....by Barbara Wojtkowski and Bronwyn Foott.


Terrain Studies - Repository
One of the AGS maps: Seeadler Harbour, Manus Island,
 Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea
Since Australian and New Zealand Forces landed at Gallipoli 100 years  ago, Australian Forces have taken part in many campaigns all over the world, including, during World War II, in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) immediately north of Australia.

Monash University Research Repository has now digitised all Monash holdings of a critical geographic resource from that period, the Terrain Studies.

The South West Pacific was a key destination for Australian Forces, but unfortunately very little was actually known about it. After all, who had actually mapped all the island chains, all the numerous archipelagos and highlands? What were the conditions? Who lived there? Was there any food that could be found locally? What about diseases? And thousands of our young people were about to go into these areas to survive, fight and die. What to do?

In the background, away from the front line, an organisation called the Allied Geographical Service (AGS) was formed in 1942 with the task of remedying this situation. Its function was to prepare various ‘publications’ to address this lack of fundamental and critical information. Among the AGS’ publications were the Terrain Studies whose purpose was to cover a specified area as completely as possible from a military perspective. This they did under difficult conditions, with very limited resources, often with only three weeks’ notice. By the time of its dissolution in November, 1945, the AGS had produced 110 Terrain Studies.

The Studies themselves contain detailed text, photographs, diagrams, maps and often annotations, as new information came to hand; everything that could be found from every possible source in Australia and overseas in the time allowed. They were used in planning and later as the basis for another publication, the Terrain Handbooks, which had a wider distribution. These Terrain Studies have now been digitised in their entirety – each Study, the text, the photos, maps and diagrams in exquisite and intricate detail.

So, why are they so important? Why make a fuss about something which was used so far in the past?....  History, is one major reason. In addition to valuable academic research in the field, these resources may be useful to personal researchers who are tracing the last movements of relatives.

For use with a modern application, the maps and annotations are highly accurate. Their application to coastal change, climate change and related disciplines is unquestionable.


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2 February 2015

American Congress historic papers now available

An outstanding new collection acquired by the  Library is a U.S. ‘national treasure’.....by Jenny Casey

The United States Capitol, the home of Congress,
 in the 1840s.

The Library is delighted to announce the acquisition of two prestigious primary sources from Readex which combined provide comprehensive, digitised access to documents on people, issues and events in American history, politics, law and culture since 1817.

Often described as a “national treasure”, the United States Congressional Serial Set (1817-1994) provides 11 million pages of reports, documents, maps, illustrations, statistical tables and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives from the 15th to the 103rd Congress.  American State Papers (1789-1838) covers the legislative and executive documents of the first 14 Congresses during the period 1789 to 1838, filling the critical historical gap from 1789 to the printing of the first volume of the Serial Set in 1817.

Dr. Taylor Spence, Lecturer in American History at Monash University, said “The United States Serial Set is the complete archive of every word written or uttered in the U.S. Congress and is a treasure trove of data for all aspects of American history.”

A powerful search engine enables researchers to explore in minute detail every document in the collection, whilst also searching related collections such as America’s Historical Newspapers.

Interested staff and students are invited to register for an information session at the Matheson Library on Tuesday February 17th. This session will highlight examples of the rich content and provide tips for easy searching.

For further information please contact:
Jenny Casey, Subject librarian, history: jenny.casey@monash.edu
Sue Little,Subject librarian, government publications; sue.little@monash.edu

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