Thursday, May 31, 2012

Queen Victoria's Journals Now Online (for a limited time)

This book, Mamma gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it.”
Just in time for the current Diamond Jubilee celebrations of HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria's Journals have been  released for the first time and made available online.

The site makes available online digital images of every page in the entire sequence of Queen Victoria's diaries, and will eventually provide full transcriptions and keyword searching of the journal entries covering the period from Queen Victoria's first diary entry in July 1832 to her marriage to Prince Albert in February 1840.

NOTE: Only for a limited time is this online collection being made available for free to users around the world. From July 2012 onwards it will remain freely available in perpetuity to all users within the United Kingdom as well as some specific libraries elsewhere (the site does not mention the United States). Hurry and check this site out today!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Map of Life - Demo Version

Pacific tree frog
Folks interested in ecology, the environment, geography and evolution take note. The Map of Life, which recently launched in "demo" mode, has launched, with the goal to show the global distribution of all plants and animals. In its current format, users can click on a region of a map and retrieve a list of terrestrial vertebrate species (as well as North American freshwater fish) in that area. Data is culled from field guides, museum collections, reports from wildlife scientists, conservation organizations and "citizen scientists." Coverage will be extended to more vertebrates, plants and invertebrates in future releases.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Discovering the History of Your House - Updated

Porter House, Fauquier County
The following is an online adaptation of a library handout put together by Vicky Ginther, Senior Reference Librarian and Virginiana Room expert at the Warrenton Library.

Researching the history of a house can be time-consuming, but also rewarding and a lot of fun! Use a combination of resources, including the Fauquier County Records Room, the Virginiana Room at the Warrenton Library, your neighbors, and the Internet.

Where to start
Start by writing down all you know about the house, such as the address, block/plot number, lot size, architectural style. Then, talk to your neighbors or the house’s previous owners, if possible. Longtime neighbors and previous owners may be familiar with the area’s history and changes in the neighborhood. They also may have interesting stories about the house and events that occurred there, even photographs of the house or neighborhood.

County Clerk’s Office
Next, initiate a deed search to find the names of the house’s previous owners, starting with the current owner. The Records Room at the Fauquier County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has copies of deeds to all properties in Fauquier County. Deeds show the progression of ownership of a house and any legal notices against the house, such as liens and mortgages. You should be able to trace the property back to its original owner. Note any address or street name changes; these will be crucial for researching the area’s history.

Virginiana Room at the Warrenton Library
The Virginiana Room has these resources for researching your house:

•Telephone directories: The Virginiana Room has Polk Directories for most years from 1963 to the present. The directories list head of household, owner’s occupation, and names of business owners. They also have a reverse directory to look up properties by address, which is useful for locating neighbors.

•Newspapers: Once you have the names of previous owners, you can check the local newspapers for any articles mentioning them or the house. The Virginiana Room has an index to articles in The True Index newspaper (1865-1904), an index to articles in the Fauquier Democrat (1936-1966), and an index to births, deaths, and marriages noted in the Fauquier Democrat (1907-1981).

•Federal census records: U.S. Census records are taken every 10 years; Virginia are available from 1810 to 1940. For some years, the census will give you information on the house’s owners, such as names, ages, and how the people who lived in the house were related. Censuses from 1810 to 1930 are available on microfilm. Fauquier County Public Library also has subscriptions to (access available within the any library branch) and Heritage Online, which have scanned images of the census records.

•Books on the local area: The Virginiana Room, the Bealeton Library, and the John Marshall Library have books on Warrenton, Marshall, The Plains, and Fauquier County history in general. These will give you information on the county’s towns, historical events, famous people, and some historic houses.

•Sanborn Insurance Maps: These are detailed maps of urban areas, originally used for assessing fire insurance liability. The Virginiana Room has Sanborn Maps on microfilm for Warrenton, 1886-1931. They cover only the town of Warrenton.

•Historic Records Surveys: Virginia did two surveys of historic properties: one by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s, and one by the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission in the late 1970s. Only properties of historical significance were surveyed. Both sets of surveys are available in the Virginiana Room, and are listed under the name of the house or property. The WPA surveys are also scanned and available from the Library of Virginia’s Web site.

•Tax Records: Tax documents will tell you what taxes were assessed on the property. A large change in the tax value may indicate an addition to or remodel of the house, a jump in real estate prices, or neighborhood rezoning. The Virginiana Room has land tax records on microfilm from 1783 to 1857.

•Wills: Wills (or Probate Records) of previous owners may contain a description of a property or house or an inventory of the house’s contents. The Virginiana Room has wills on microfilm from 1759-1866. Wills after 1866 are found in the county’s Records Room.

•Photographs: The John Gott Library in Marshall, Virginia, has a collection of Fauquier County photographs, including some houses. You can contact the library at (540) 364-3440. The John Gott Library is staffed by volunteers and is open a few hours each week, so call before visiting.

•Vertical Files: The Virginiana Room has files of information on Fauquier County people and places, including some houses and other buildings.

Compiling Your Research
You might want to keep your information in a loose leaf binder; this makes it easier to add new items. It can be organized in chronological order, by subject, or by the name of each family who lived in the house.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Watch the Kentucky Derby Online

Plan on being at the Virginia Gold Cup or just can't make it to Chuchill Downs this year? Gigaom has published this guide to enjoying the Kentucky Derby online.

If you prefer a fun read about the sport of horse racing  or steeplechase, over watching it, grab a copy of one of Dick Francis' mysteries, like 10 lb. Penalty or the Kit Fielding series.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the achievements of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States. Comprising many ethnic groups, including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, and peoples of more than 20 other ethnicities, Asian Americans enrich the national landscape with their respective histories, traditions and cultural heritage. To learn more, check out these online resources:

  • View online exhibits from the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities and others
  • Students, check the library's online databases, including encyclopedias and the Gale Biography In Context, for additional information and features related to Asian Americans
  • Educators and homeschoolers, use these teaching resources in your classroom
  • Take a journey to discover the richness and diversity of the Asian-American experience with PBS' Searching for Asian America
  • Watch over 800 videos on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month using the Google Video search
  • Create Asian crafts
  • Visit historic properties highlighting important aspects of the Asian and Pacific experience in America
  • has a number of resources, including biographies of notable Asian Americans, quizzes and geographical information

  • Offline, delve into works of Asian American authors like Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston and Lisa See, all of whom explore balancing one's heritage against the values and expecations of American society.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    e-Resource of the Month: Health and Wellness Resource Center

    Because the month of May is marked by several national health-related campaigns, including Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month, Arthritis Awareness Month and Women's Health Week (May 13-19), what better time to promote the library's Health and Wellness Resource Center database?

    Gale's Health & Wellness Resource Center can help you find health and wellness information as quickly as a Google search, but with the accuracy of library-quality results.

    Features and Benefits
    • Includes the respected Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine
    • Authoritative reference material as well as full-text magazines, journals, and  pamphlets from a wide variety of authoritative medical sources
    • Current health news headlines
    • Video content and physician-authored articles
    • Database of drugs and herbal remedies
    • Up-to-date contact information for various service agencies, offices, companies, people and health products
    • Links to numerous calculators and risk assessment tools
    • An alternative medicine module that looks at health care from a holistic lens
    In addition, make sure to check out our Health & Wellness Resources page on our website for additional online health information, as well as lists of recommended books and videos to check out from our collection.

    If you're wondering about other health-related events during the year, check out the National Wellness Institute's 2012 Health & Wellness Observances Calendar.