Category: Collection Highlight

Your Archival Horoscope: Taurus

Letterhead with abstract bull head logo from the Madrid office of Taurus publishing office
Letterhead with abstract bull head logo from the Madrid office of Taurus publishing office.

This month’s dip into the distinctive collections of the MIT Libraries brings us to a Spanish language publisher called Taurus. Correspondence between Taurus director Jesús Aguirre and Roman Jakobson are found in MC-0072 Roman Jakobson papers. Taurus was interested in publishing Jakobson’s The Poetry of Grammar and the Grammar of Poetry, but was not able to as a Spanish language edition was already being published by Fondo de Cultura Economica of Mexico.

Letter dated 15 May 1973 from Pamela Chester, assistant to Roman Jakobson, to Taurus Ediciones publishing office stating that Fondo de Cultura Economica of Mexico is scheduled to publish the Spanish language edition of his studies in poetics.
Letter dated 15 May 1973 from Pamela Chester, assistant to Roman Jakobson, to Taurus Ediciones publishing office stating that Fondo de Cultura Economica of Mexico is scheduled to publish the Spanish language edition of his studies in poetics. Roman Jakobson Papers, MC 72, box 49. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Horoscope: Now is an excellent time to make summer travel plans (Madrid, Mexico, or anywhere else!) or brush up on a foreign language.

Jakobson, a prolific writer and linguist was influential in expanding the field of linguistics to include “phonetics, semantics, poetics, Slavic studies, language acquisition and pathology, and mythology.”1

Taurus was founded in 1954 by Francisco Pérez González, Rafael Gutiérrez Girardot and Miguel Sánchez López. Jesús Aguirre was director from 1954 to 1977. Today Taurus is an editorial stamp of Penguin Random House Publishing Group.

Books published by Taurus are found in the MIT Libraries collections, including the below book about Pablo Neruda.

Cover of Pablo Neruda biography published by Taurus - http://library.mit.edu/item/000220484
Pablo Neruda biography published by Taurus – http://library.mit.edu/item/000220484

Other posts in this series include:

Your Archival Horoscope: Aries

Your Archival Horoscope: Pisces

Your Archival Horoscope: Aquarius

Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction

1 = Roman Jakobson resource record

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Touch This Page!

During April 4-5, Touch This Page! A Symposium on Ability, Access, and the Archive was held at Northeastern and Harvard. Multiple members of the IASC attended and Emilie Hardman, interim head of IASC, presented at the symposium.

The day-and-a-half Touch This Page symposium addressed many topics over the duration, from the history of creating accessible materials, to the creation of 3-D surrogates of Boston Line Type (a raised typeface that was a precursor to Braille), to rethinking ways of describing materials for those that may not be able to interact with books or texts in person, to the ways in which the brain “reads.”

In learning more about the history of accessibility, I realized that the IASC has a small example of Boston Line Type within its collections. This form of raised lettering could be read using either sight or touch.

Front page of "The Weekly News" a current events magazine for the blind distributed by the National Braille Press. From the Jonathan Allen papers (MC-0557, box 71)
Front page of “The Weekly News” a current events magazine for the blind distributed by the National Braille Press. Both Boston Line Type and Braille are displayed. Jonathan Allen papers (MC-0557, box 71)

This copy of The Weekly News is located in the papers of Jonathan Allen (MC-0557). Allen, 1934-2000, was a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, 1981-2000, and a principal investigator in the Circuits and Systems and the Speech Communications research groups in the laboratory. His research centered on speech processing, computational linguistics, computer architecture, and VLSI circuit design.

Detail of a plate of braille type.
Raised Braille type printed on a sheet of metal. Jonathan Allen papers (MC-0557, box 71)

One of the projects worked on by Allen was the creation of automatic transcription of text to Braille. At MIT, the program DOTSYS (begun by Robert Mann) translated the text, while the MIT Braillemboss machine was created to print out the Braille text in raised dots.

Chris Tanguay

Your Archival Horoscope: Aries

Searching the collections for Aries related material, I came across the folder “Rhines, Peter, correspondence, computations, comments on the Aries Observations” in the Mid-Ocean Dynamics Experiment (MODE) records, AC-0042.

Hmmmm, what were these “Aries Observations”? Apparently, nothing to do with stars, but rather with the deep blue, and specifically a boat named Aries.

According to J.C. Swallow who published comments about the Aries observations in 1971, they are, “A series of current measurements made using neutrally buoyant floats, mainly from the research vessel Aries, in the western North Atlantic Ocean in 1959-60, revealing unexpectedly strong variable currents in the deep water.” The Aries current measurements in the western North Atlantic, 1971.*

In the MODE records, we find Peter Rhines’s comment to Swallow’s comments also written in 1971 when Rhines was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Meteorology at MIT. The opening lines read,

“Dr. Swallow’s observations of the vertical profile of currents show how different a view of the deep ocean is now emerging. The tendency of currents to increase with depth below the permanent thermocline is so striking that it seems timely to point out that just this possibility was suggested recently by linearized theory (Rhines, 1970).”

"A Comment on the Aries Observations" by Peter Rhines in Mid-Ocean Dynamics Experiment records, AC-0042, box 2, folder 76. MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.

“A Comment on the Aries Observations” by Peter Rhines in Mid-Ocean Dynamics Experiment records, AC-0042, box 2, folder 76. MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.

A full description of the collection is available on EMMAS (the new! MIT Archives and Special Collections public discovery interface). Below is a little more context from that description about the collection:

The records of the Mid-Ocean Dynamics Experiment (MODE), 1970-1976, document the development, organization, progress, and results of a large-scale, intensive and logistically complicated oceanography program. Robert Heinmiller, a research associate at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and later coordinator of the succeeding POLYMODE project, collected the MODE records from the working files of Nick P. Fofonoff of WHOI, Executive Officer Dennis Moore, Curt Collins of the National Science Foundation, and Carl Wunsch of MIT.

Horoscope: Scientific inquiry may confirm your hunches about what lies beneath the surface.

Other posts in this series include:

Your Archival Horoscope: Pisces

Your Archival Horoscope: Aquarius

Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction

*Swallow, J. C. “The Aries Current Measurements in the Western North Atlantic.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, vol. 270, no. 1206, 1971, pp. 451–460. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/73905.

Your Archival Horoscope: Pisces

Today we are celebrating Pisces (February 19 – March 20) whose zodiac symbol is the fish! Pisces is usually represented by two fish that are tied together and swim in opposite directions, but in this blog post it’s represented by the majestic perch fish. In the book Ichthyology vol. 1 The Perch Family, there are many examples of beautifully colored illustrations of perch. 

  • Multiples images of the cover, spine, insides, and on a shelf of The naturalist’s library. Ichthyology vol. 1 The perch family by Sir William Jardine. MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections - Noncirculating Collection 1 | QL615.J37 1835

Horoscope: Be inspired by the perch fish, don’t be afraid to let your true colors shine!

Other posts in this series include:

Your Archival Horoscope: Aquarius

Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction

Greta Kuriger Suiter

New Digitized Collections in DOME

In the past few months, three sets of content from IASC were added to DOME, the access platform for much of the MIT Libraries’ digitized materials! This included the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, MIT Handbooks, and additional MIT Course Catalogues which bring the dates available up to 2005-2006 where the Course Catalog official website back issues leaves off.

Rules and Regulations of the Faculty

The Rules and Regulations of the Faculty spans the Institute Archives and Special Collections copies of the publication from 1879-2007. They establish the roles and responsibilities of the Standing Committees of the MIT Faculty, governs its legislative processes, and states its regulations pertaining to the academic calendar, admissions, registration, grades, degrees, and more. The Rules and Regulations of the Faculty also describe the processes via which they can be changed by vote of the Faculty. Parts also address important topics related to syllabi, midterms, scheduling assignments at the end of the semester, and final exams.

Do you qualify for the 1879 entrance requirements to MIT? I, for one, would fail the section on “the first two books of Voltaire’s ‘Charles XII’.” See the entire Rules and Regulations for 1879 here.

Image of MIT entrance requirements in 1879

Image of MIT entrance requirements in 1879

From page 7-8 of the MIT Rules of the Faculty, 1879. Call number: T171.M4199

MIT Handbooks

The MIT Handbooks consist of books with general information about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, local culture and social activities, and academics. The publications have various names and creators, The Handbook of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Social Beaver, This is MIT, MIT Today, How to Get Around MIT (HowToGAMIT) but generally provide similar information on how to navigate life in and around MIT.

Here is some advice in the 1913 handbook for what to do in case of accidents. If struck by lightning, this guide recommends dashing cold water over the person struck. I wouldn’t recommend following that advice today! Take a look at the whole 1913 handbook here.

Image of "Help in Case of Accidents" instructions given to MIT Students

From page 95 of the Handbook of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1913. Call number: T171.M42.S678

MIT Course Catalogues

The MIT Course Catalogue, also referred to as the MIT Bulletin and the MIT Course Catalog, is a rich source of information on the courses and programs that have made the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the major institution it is today.

Do you think you would be interested in taking “Communicating in Cyberspace” back in 1996? Read the full 1996 catalogue here.

Image of course desciption for 21W.785 Communicating in Cyberspace

From page 521 of the 1996-1997 MIT Course Catalogue. Call number: T171.M42

Your Archival Horoscope: Aquarius

Image of Aquarius in Zodiac no. 1 1906-1907, Thomas F. Peterson Jr. collection, TK5101.A1 Z63, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.
“The Zodiac” was the in-house journal for employees of the Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies, and subsequently a liaison between the telecommunication staffs of Cable and Wireless Limited and its subsidiaries. The series is featured in the Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction post. “Aquarius” in Zodiac no. 1 1906-1907, Thomas F. Peterson Jr. collection, TK5101.A1 Z63, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.

To start off this Zodiac series with the sign Aquarius, I searched for “Aquarius” in ArchivesSpace (a magical system that holds descriptive data about collections in the Institute Archives and Special Collections). One of the two results was a review of The Age of Aquarius: Technology and the Cultural Revolution by William Braden from 1970. (The above image is from the series The Zodiac featured in the Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction post). The review is titled, “The dawning revolt against the controllers of our technology,” and is by Noam Chomsky. It was published in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 3, 1970, the same newspaper that Braden worked for as a reporter.

"Reviews: The Age of Aquarius," 1970. Noam Chomsky Papers, MC 600, box 137. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Reviews: The Age of Aquarius,” 1970. Noam Chomsky Papers, MC 600, box 137. MIT, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Chomsky writes that Braden has mostly missed the mark by focusing on technology as a negative influence on society and that he has taken on too large a task. “His subject is ‘the contemporary American crisis,’ many-faceted and severe. We are threatened, he suggests, by a ‘technetronic dictatorship,’ but also by a humanistic revolt against technology.”

Chomsky suggests that the real threat “to democratic values is concentration of power in the economic and political systems.” And that, “The technical intelligentsia serves this system by disguising the reality of power with a myth of scientific objectivity.”

Today we still struggle with the myth of scientific objectivity. It is easy to believe that technology exists and is created in a vacuum, but there is much current scholarship (for example research around Algorithmic bias) exposing this false assumption.

Horoscope:

Not all is as it seems, and it is often much more complex than you know. Have courage this month to ask questions and listen more.

Further research:

  • For another perspective on Braden’s book, see the New York Times review
  • The Age of Aquarius is available through the MIT Libraries and is found in the catalog here.
  • At this time, parts of Noam Chomsky’s archives (MC-0600) are open for on-site use in the reading room of the Institute Archives and Special Collections. Specifically, his Lectures and Notes on Talks are available for access and use.

Other posts in this series include:

Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction

Your Archival Horoscope: Introduction

In an effort to post items from the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections more regularly, I chose a theme for the year that I could post monthly about. I thought it should be a theme that aligned with natural changes throughout the year, something that would remind me to post, and maybe something that isn’t necessarily thought of as having much to do with MIT. It would be a somewhat random dive into the collections.

I decided to go with the theme of horoscopes, or more precisely the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. According to Wikipedia,

The zodiac is an area of the sky that extends approximately 8° north or south (as measured in celestial latitude) of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. The paths of the Moon and visible planets are also within the belt of the zodiac.

In Western astrology, and formerly astronomy, the zodiac is divided into twelve signs, each occupying 30° of celestial longitude and roughly corresponding to the constellations Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

I searched the archives and special collections for the Latin names and English translations (Aries, ram) and was able to find something for each. Look for zodiac inspired posts appearing at the end of each month. First up will be Aquarius at the end of January.

For now, enjoy this gem from special collections titled The Zodiac which is part of a collection of materials on telegraphy donated to the MIT Libraries by Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (class of 1957).

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“The Zodiac” was the in-house journal for employees of the Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies, and subsequently a liaison between the telecommunication staffs of Cable and Wireless Limited and its subsidiaries. Each issue features editorials, staff updates, photographs, drawings, poetry, and a much coverage of employee cricket matches.

Look for more zodiac inspired blog posts throughout the year, and please comment if there is a theme you would like to see highlighted in the future!

-Greta Kuriger Suiter