Wednesday, December 19, 2012


FirstBASE is a brand new website from the Social History Curator's Group which allows users to search a well-stocked cellar of resources including books, articles, websites and museum collections to better inform your research.

The website has been designed primarily as a job-aid for museum professionals who are finding in their jobs that they need to know a bit about everything. The aim of the resource is to provide the means to interpret and improve their identification of social history objects. Don't let this curatorial slant put you off however, as the search criteria are broad enough to allow searches by theme, product or period in history. The interesting results return books, websites and details of museum collections. Add your own suggestions for resources to the site and comment on the ones you've used. The editor's choices are particularly good.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bibliodyssey Blog

Bibliodyssey's blog showcases the best and most arresting illustrations found in unique, archival collections. The one pictured for example, forms part of December's blog on plant anatomy charts which is taken from a nineteenth century plant systematics wall chart series called 'Dodel-Port-Atlas.' More drool-inducing illustrations have been added since the blog-posting, this time looking at 'Le Buffon Choisi,' a humorous children's zoology book modelled loosely on the 18th century scientific works of Buffon, a leading figure of the French Enlightenment. Alongside the drip-feed of beautiful pictures, the blog also recommends other blogs and resource sites. Navigate your way to previous blog postings by clicking on the images in the central right-hand margin to find more natural history images and other esoteric collections.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Audio Interviews with Popular Music Icons

Retired music executive Joe Smith has donated his collection of over 200 interview recordings with popular music artists and moguls to the Library of Congress in Washington who have turned it into a digital resource. The collection was put together by Smith over two years whilst he was president of Capitol Records/EMI. There are 238 hours of unabridged conversations with artists from all popular music genres talking about their lives, music, experiences and contemporaries. Bob Dylan's thoughts on the 1960s, the creation of the first Les Paul guitar in 1929 and the culture of work in Motown are some of the excerpts to eavesdrop on.

Smith made all of his recordings on cassette tape and the library have kept any modifications to a minimum to allow the distortion and dropouts in the audio to be    preserved. With 50 years of the cassette past, this resource is interesting not only for its content but for its retro format and the endeavoring of the Library of Congress to preserve the original, tinny sound quality.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Gothic Ivories Project- The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art recently reported that their Gothic Ivories Project founded in 2008 is thriving with over 2,800 objects from a variety of sources now searchable online. Thanks to funding from charitable arts foundations, new research is being done into the field which will advantage those interested in the study of  European, medieval and neo-Gothic art.

The online collection of Gothic ivory sculptures has more than tripled in size since the website was launched in 2010 and is expected to expand yet further. Each object has been meticulously catalogued to provide a description, size dimensions and information about its provenance making it possible to learn more about the tradition of the art-form whilst browsing for inspiration. Add your images to an online folder and compare the results across cultures and time periods.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Costume Inspiration - World of Steam Age

Fashion and textile designers can browse a colourful selection of bourgeoisie, period dress at the Pinterest site 'Costume Inspiration.' The social, photo-sharing site allows you to browse the pinboard for inspiration,'re-pin' images to your own collection, or 'like' photographs. The array of costume on show reveals fashions trends and social traditions from the late eighteenth century through to the turn of the twentieth century. Photographs, drawings and magazine cuttings decorate the site which not only shows the corseted, heavy-skirted fashions of the day, but also has an interesting collection of accessories. Aristocratic Russian and Japanese fashions features prominently as does British dress from the 1800s.