Map-a-thon for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

Contribute your time to open-source mapping to aid relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

  • Date: Thursday, October​ ​5,​ ​2017​
  • Time: noon-3pm​
  • Place: ​Library Classroom (Room 160), Thompson Library

Mapping project #3661: Hurricane Maria | 2017 - Puerto Rico 5 (Cidra to Santa Isabel)

Mapping project #3661: Hurricane Maria | 2017 – Puerto Rico 5 (Cidra to Santa Isabel)

Following the recent hurricane, people around the world are using the OpenStreetMap platform to donate their time to hurricane relief efforts. The Red Cross in Puerto Rico has requested help with their relief efforts, and libraries (Columbia, Rutgers, Univ. of Miami, and more) are responding! (Thanks to @elotroalex for the idea!)

No​ ​mapping​ ​experience,​ ​knowledge​ ​of​ ​local​ ​geography,​ ​or​ ​software​ ​installation​ ​is required. Just bring yourself, lunch if you’d like, and a laptop (if you’d prefer to work on your own device rather than a classroom computer).

We’ll have a training session from 12-1 p.m., but will be available until 3 p.m. — drop in at any time to get started.

Learn more about the process through our guide, Humanitarian Mapping with OpenStreetMap.

Puerto Rico map-a-thon flyerDownload a copy of our flyer to distribute on campus.

Thank you for your interest in helping this effort!  #prmapathon

An overview of the mapping process

An overview of the mapping process (courtesy Missing Maps / Learn OSM)

Notes for a Captive Audience: Wendy Graham

If you have gone to the washroom in Main Library lately, you will have noticed the Library Research Services’ monthly newsletter. For poetry month, our research intern, Molly James, interviewed Professor of English Wendy Graham about her research on author Henry James.

What is your current research focusing on? How did you decide on it?

When I finished Henry James’s Thwarted Love, I realized I did not want to become a cottage industry in Gay studies approaches to James, in other words, typecast. I’ve spent the last 14 years working on a manuscript about the British Pre-Raphaelites. This work focuses on artist collectives, homoeroticism, and fame. The Pre-Raphaelites relied on their friends, and paradoxically their enemies, to drum up interest in their poetry and painting in the Victorian media. I’ve relied on the library’s databases for access to hundreds of periodical and newspaper reviews, published between 1848-1945, to substantiate my argument that scandal was a vehicle for a serious reputation in Victorian cultural circles.

How did you become interested in Henry James? Why did you write a book on him?

Henry James is the greatest American writer from a stylistic point of view. Whenever I pick up a book to read recreationally, whether Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart or Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels, I invariably find references to Henry James’s craftsmanship. This is less surprising in Virginia Woolf or even Bowen, who’s writing in the 1930s, but Aubyn is writing this minute. Speaking both of the protagonist and, I very much fear, the author, that a drug addled upper class British twit, who was sexually abused by his father, finds James’s prose transfixing is good enough for me.

I’m looking forward to teaching Henry James in my six-week course in the fall.

Which resources do you use for your research and how do you access them? Do you use any of the resources that the Vassar Library offers?

I use databases that provide access to primary sources as well as current scholarly articles. The library used to have more hard copies of 19th-century periodicals, both American and British. I find it useful to browse in actual copies of newspapers and magazines, because advertising and marginalia, the layout of the magazine, and other details provide context that is hard to access in a digital format.

Does your research interests intersect with the courses you teach? If yes, how so?

There is a tricky balance between riding a hobby-horse in class, which can make students feel that their expectations or interests have been sidelined, and showing enthusiasm for research interests that intersect with courses. If I spend time on art in my Victorian literature class or English 170, it is partly because the visual evidence is such a compact and succinct way of delivering a message. For example, when I am trying to explain the Freudian concept “displacement,” I show students René Magritte’s 2 paintings titled Rape, which superimpose a torso on a human face.

April is National Poetry Month. What is a poem that you enjoy, and why?

I am teaching Swinburne this coming week, so I’ll pick one of his poems: “Laus Veneris,” which was inspired by a drawing on the Tannhäuser legend, and then inspired a painting by Edward Burne-Jones. I like the theme of the ‘sister arts’.

Ruminations on finals

Ah, exam week. Worried? Unprepared? Rundown? Procrastinating? Can’t wait to find out what your grades are? You’re not alone. Despite not having Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or other social media, Vassar students from years past had their own outlets for recording their feelings about this most stressful time of the year. Lest you think venting about exams is something new, here are some excerpts from the Vassar Digital Library’s collection of student diaries and letters.

Library students studying ca 1901-1904

Library students studying ca 1901-1904

1865: Christine Ladd diary entry

We have had private examinations this week, which have done a good deal to take down my self conceit.  They have been demonstrative proof that impressions made on my mind have no more durability than if a seal plunged into the water.  … I am so inconceivably illogical.  It is impossible for me to apprehend the relations of things.  Education of such mental imbecility is a gross mistake.

1870: Ellen Adee diary entry

The revel of examinations is done and two days worry and cramming tell their tale in exhaustion mentily and bodily.  But that chapel essay could be postponed no longer, and what Nature could not do, green tea must.  It did help this morning I am sure, but this evening every muscle and nerve in my body seem about to give out.

ph.f 3.21 Main Building Library ca 1880

Main Building Library ca 1880

1871: Bertha Keffer diary entry

I wish it were the June examination instead of February.  I wish the Faculty had to be examined before a lot of people twice a year when we are.  They would soon do away with all such botherations if they came home to themselves.

1872: Frances Bromley diary entry

Examination days tire me more than almost any others. It’s a different kind of tired.


Student at desk in dorm, n.d.

Student at desk in dorm, n.d.

1872: Letter from Julia Pease to her mother

The examinations come off this week, Thursday and Friday. I dread them a good deal for I am not nearly as good a scholar as I was last year. It sometimes seems that I have grown most miserably stupid, for It is with the greatest difficulty that I can learn my lessons at all, and when I have learned them I cannot remember them long. Then, I think my teachers are none of them very good.

1896: Letter from Adelaide Mansfield to her mother

A hard week is over and a comparatively easy week is before as. Our exams, were harder than usual, and also harder to prepare for. Our exam, in Thucydides was the worst. Miss Leach gave us for the first question a passage to translate, which was the very hardest passage in the book. Some of the girls had just reviewed It, but a good many – including myself – had not looked at it since we had it about two months ago.

1915: Helen Hartley Pease Diary

Rained all day. Horrid walking. No flunk notes. Passed all my exams. Slept two hours in P.M. Didn’t go to new presidents’ reception for the weather. Only 5 nuts went. Retired early.