Happy Ada Lovelace Day 2016!

Ruth Fulton Benedict (VC 1899)

Ruth Fulton Benedict (VC 1909)

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! On October 11, 2016, we’ll celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, an annual event recognizing achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. This year we’re adding a new reason to celebrate: we are thrilled to announce that the papers of Ruth Fulton Benedict (VC 1909) are available digitally through Alexander Street Press’s Anthropological Fieldwork Online via open access. Though Benedict was a social scientist rather than in a field identified with STEM, her use of the scientific method to learn about others helped her advance her life’s work in anthropology. As she stated during her acceptance speech for the Annual Achievement Award of American Association of University Women in 1946, “I have faith of a scientist that behavior, no matter how unfamiliar to us, is understandable if the problem is stated so that it can be answered by investigation and if then studied by technically suitable methods. And I have the faith of a humanist in the adventures of mutual understanding of men.”

The Papers of Ruth Fulton Benedict are available through a partnership with Alexander Street Press.

The Papers of Ruth Fulton Benedict are available through Anthropological Fieldwork Online.

Over the past year, the Vassar College Libraries have worked with Alexander Street Press to digitize and make freely available more than 8,000 pages of diaries, field notes, articles, teaching materials, and correspondence (much of which is transcribed), as well as photographs.

The papers of Benedict, a renowned anthropologist, are housed in the Archives & Special Collections Library at Vassar. As the finding aid to her papers notes:

In 1909, after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, New York, [Ruth Fulton] Benedict traveled to Europe with college friends. Following that, she was a social worker for a year, then spent three years teaching before marrying Stanley Benedict, a biochemistry professor at Cornell Medical School, in 1914.

In 1919 Ruth Benedict began taking courses, first at Columbia University with John Dewey and then at the New School for Social Research with Elsie Clews Parsons whose course in ethnology of the sexes kindled Benedict’s interest in anthropology. Under the guidance of Franz Boas, Benedict received her doctorate in 1923 from Columbia, where she remained throughout her career. In 1948 she was promoted to full professor in the Faculty of Political Science, the first woman to achieve such status.

Benedict’s fieldwork was done in California among the Serrano and with the Zuñi, Cochiti, and Pima in the Southwest. Student training trips took her to the Mescalero Apache in Arizona and Blackfoot in the Northwest. From her work in the field, several of her books were developed: Tales of the Cochiti Indians (New York: 1931); Zuñi Mythology (New York: 1935); and Patterns of Culture (Boston: 1934), which became a bestseller and influenced American life in that it explained the idea of “culture” to the layperson.

open-accessWe are thrilled that these materials are able to reach the widest available audiences through open access.

Wishing you a happy Ada Lovelace Day and best wishes for a wonderful semester for the arts, sciences, and social sciences alike!

Resources about Benedict:

Romance? Yes? No? Either way: Criterion!

Plough and the Stars

To Valentine or not to Valentine? Either way it’s freakin’ cold! Just in time for these freezing days and nights when watching a great movie indoors sounds like a fine plan, the Vassar Library is taking two streaming platforms for the Criterion Collection of films out for a test drive.  Criterion offers many of the greatest films from around the world and remains committed to publishing the defining moments of cinema by building a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films including the work of such masters as Renoir, Godard, Kurosawa, Cocteau, Fellini, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Hitchcock, Fuller, Lean, Lang, Dreyer, Eisenstein, Ozu, Buñuel and Powell.  Recently, they have begun to offer their collection of films on streaming platforms, including HuluPlus for individuals, and Alexander Street and Kanopy for colleges and other institutions.  We’re running a simultaneous trial of the two platforms so that we can compare their features and decide which one we like best.  So watch a great movie this weekend – with a loved one, a pal, your dog, just you… whatever! Did we mention it’s freakin’ cold??



Yay for Valentine’s Day!


Not so much…

no love

If you have comments or questions, or a platform opinion, please get in touch with Gretchen Lieb, Film and Video Librarian.



New Resource – NYTimes Academic Pass

Welcome back!  We wish you a successful, fun, and information-filled new academic year.

There have been many resources added to the Library since summer began, but one of the biggest has been our new access to all of the features available through the New York Times website, NYTimes.com.  Over the summer, the Library arranged access to NYTimes.com through its Academic Pass program. 

Through this program, you will have full access to NYTimes.com for a period of 52 weeks (364 days) from the date you sign up .


In order to participate, you must follow the instructions on the library’s FAQ page: http://library.vassar.edu/search/nyt.html.  We urge you to read thoroughly the FAQ prior to signing up, especially if you are already a subscriber to the New York Times.

Please note these important aspects of the program:

  • You must have and use a valid email address from Vassar College to participate.
  • If you have problems signing up or have problems with your access after you have signed up, you will need to contact the New York Times directly at edu@nytimes.com, not the library.  The library does not manage the accounts and cannot troubleshoot.
  • Access does not include e-reader editions, Premium Crosswords or The New York Times Crosswords apps. NYTimes apps are not supported on all devices.
  • Access to archived articles within the date range 1923-1980 is limited; you should continue to use the New York Times Historical Newspaper (ProQuest) for research.  Please consult a Research Librarian (http://library.vassar.edu/research/assistance.html) for help.
  • If you have an existing paid NYTimes.com digital subscription, you are not eligible for an Academic Pass unless you prefer to cancel your own digital subscription.  However, the New York Times Academic Site License has some restrictions (some of which are noted above) that your personal subscription may not have. Consider the options carefully before deciding one way or another.

Please contact researchhelp@vassar.edu with general questions or comments.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Libraries!