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    doctor white

    Hospitals can be scary places for kids. All of the machines, strange noises and people that they do not know can be confusing. Sometimes, they endure painful procedures. They do not feel well, and they do not know what is going on. They miss their friends and family. Luckily for them, they have Dr. White.

    Dr. White takes his job seriously. He loves being at the hospital and caring for the sick kids. He makes his rounds, and the children love him. Dr. White mitigates their hardships and brings them back to health. Dr. White is a special kind of doctor, the kind that is furry and has four white paws.

    The puppy lays with very sick kids for hours. He seems to know just what to do with each child. However, the health inspector does not want canines in the hospital ward. He insists that the dog be expelled from the facility.

    Dr. White gets very sad. He never wags his tail, and he lays on the ground looking despondent. His life lacks the purpose that it had when he roamed the hospital corridors.

    Then, the health inspector's daughter becomes very ill. The nurse allows the pooch to sneak into the hospital; once again, the dog is in his prime. He lays with the little girl, and after a long night, she gets better! Dr. White is thrilled to be in the hospital once again!

    Doctor White by Jane Goodall, 2014



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    I love a book with a strong female character, so here are eigh of my favorite titles with phenomenal leading ladies:

    Strange Angels, by Lili St. Crow, is a series that I adore. In Strange Angels we meet Dru Anderson. Dru is one of my favorite heroines because she has a special ability that allows her to sense when bad things are about to happen . Her grandmother calls this ability “the touch”. Having “the touch” is useful to Dru because she hunts  ghost, suckers, and wulfen with her father. Dru’s life changes when her father is killed. With the help of her best friend, Graves, Dru seeks   answers about why her parents  were killed…

    Divergent, by Veronica Roth, tells the epic story of a young girl named Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who resides in a dystopian world set in Chicago. Tris lives in a world divided into five factions. Tris was born in the Abnegation faction. At sixteen years old she has to choose in which faction she wants to belong. In order to choose a faction, all young people must take a test that tells them where they belong, but Tris’s test results are inconclusive. Tris is divergent; she does not fit in to just one faction. She fits into three…now she must decide whether to venture into the unknown or stay with her family in Abnegation. Tris’s choice surprises everyone. In her new faction Tris’s finds that her divergent status is dangerous, and she must learn to fight to protect herself…

     Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead, begins with guardian-in-training Rose Hathaway, a half human-half vampire (Dhampir), and Moroi Princess Vasilisa Dragomir (Mortal Vampire) being captured and returned to St. Vladimir's academy. There, Rose must protect Lisa from something that is praying on her from within the school and the ever looming threat of Strigoi (Evil Immortal Vampire).

    Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Mass, is one of my favorite all-time series. The series began as a Cinderella retelling and became its own original tale. The series tells the tale of a young assassin named Celaena Sardothien. Celaena has been caught and imprisoned in the salt mines for her crimes. The Crown Prince, Dorian, offers her a way out of her sentence. If she becomes his champion in the kings tournament and wins the title of royal assassin, she earns her freedom. Celaena accepts and begins training with the captain of the guard, Chaol Westfall, for whom she begins to fall, although there are more dangers in the castle than she could have imagined.

     “I volunteer!” are words that resonate with many people at the mention of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen won the heart of all of Panem and the readers of the series. We meet Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who makes the choice to stand up and save her sister. Her choice sends her to The Hunger Games, a televised event in Panem. The Hunger Games usually only has once victor at the end. However, the rules have changed this year: There can be two winners, as long as they are from the same district. Katniss is paired with Peeta, also from District 12, and she is determined to save him…

    Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, tells the story of Katsa. Katsa lives in a land where people are born with unusual skills called a Grace. A "Graceling" is a person with special powers. A Graceling is known for having two different eye colors. Katsa has the Grace of killing, and she is forced to work as a killer for her uncle, the King. Katsa’s life begins to change when she meets Prince Po, who has the Grace of combat skills. Po and Katsa go on a fantastic adventure together and learn dark secrets about their land, while Katsa learns more about her power.

    Legend,by Marie Lu, is another of my favorite books. The story is told from the perspective of June and Day. June is a the best soldier in the republic and Day is the most wanted criminal of the republic. When Day is accused of killing June's brother, June decides to go undercover in a quest for vengeance. In a shocking turn of events, June and Day discover the secrets of the corrupt government and begin to work together to fight against it.

    Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the story of Mare Barrow. Mare is a Red blood young girl who lives under the rule of Silvers. The Reds are poor and the Silvers have god-like powers. When Mare begins to work in the Silver palace, she finds that she, too, has dangerous powers. To hide her power, the Silver king forces Mare to pretend that she is a lost Silver princess. However, Mare secretly defies the king by working with rebels known as The Scarlet Guard.

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    Enrollment Now Open! SAGEWorks Boot Camp. This two-week intensive training course will provide participants with essential skills to lead them toward job placement. The first session is MondayFriday, June 8June 19, 9:30 a.m. 2:00 p.m.  Participants must attend every day at the SAGE Center, located at 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

    NYC Fire Department Information Sessions for career opportunities: EMT, Paramedic, and Firefighter on Monday, June 1, 2015, at NYS Department of Labor, Queens Workforce 1 Careeer Center, 168-25 Jamaica Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11432.

    International Cruise and Excursions Gallery will present a recruitment on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 9 a.m. for Sears Vacations Marketing Associate (10 P/T openings), at NYS Department of Labor, Workforce 1 Career Center, 250 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. 

    Concrete Connect Inc. will present a recruitment on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 10 a.m.2 p.m., for Airport Shuttle Driver (five P/T openings) at NYS Department of Labor, 9 Bond Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    ASPCA will present a recruitment on Wednesday, June 3, 2015,  10 a.m.1 p.m., for Licensed Veterinary Technician (one opening), Kitten Nursey Caregiver (Seasonal) (one opening), Licensed Veterinary Technician (Evening) (one opening),  Nursery Licesnsed Veterinary Technician (Seasonal) (one opening), Senior Veterinary Asssistant (one opening), Veterinary Staff Manager (one opening) at NYS Department of Labor, 9 Bond Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    Apprenticeship Opportunities in New York City.             

    affiche le pour

    The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCE&TC) is an association of 200 community based organizations, educational institutions, and labor unions that annually provide job training and employment services to over 750,000 New Yorkers, including welfare recipients, unemployed workers, low-wage workers, at-risk youth, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and the mentally and physically disabled. View the NYCE&TC Job Listings.

    Digital NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company,  startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workplace, accelerator, incubator, resource, and organization in the five boroughs. Search  jobs by category on this site.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT).  Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development or call 718-302-2057 ext. 202. 

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement. Currently, BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel. This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Class runs for eight weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer. CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Training runs Mondays through Fridays for six weeks and includes test prep and taking the HHA certification exam. Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition. For more information for the above two training programs, email:, call 212-571-1690, or visit. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future. For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of May 31  become available.

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    What do Pliny the Younger, Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, and Tom Wolfe have in common?

    The phrase "they all knew shorthand," written in Gregg shorthand

    Or in longform: they all knew shorthand.  Whether you call it stenography (narrow-writing), brachygraphy (short-writing), tachygraphy (fast-writing), or phonography (sound-writing), shorthand represents our quest to write at the rate of speech. Through multiple gifts over the years, The New York Public Library has gathered an outstanding and extensive collection of shorthand material. These items can help answer such wide-ranging questions as: What was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius like?Why are some of the lines in Shakespeare’s King Lear so weird? and How can I take faster notes in my classes and work meetings?

    Ye Olde Shorthande

    Forms of shorthand have been in use since Greek antiquity. One of the earliest systems is attributed to Marcus Tullius Tiro, a freed slave of the famous Roman orator Cicero. In order to record Cicero’s dictations, Tiro developed several thousand symbols to stand in for common words. Medieval scribes continued this system, called the notae Tironianae, or Tironian notes. They found the one-symbol-for-one-word exchange easier to read in a time when words were written with little space between them. Tironian notes eventually fell out of favor as their aura of secrecy and exclusivity became connected with runes and witchcraftnot a great association to have in the Middle Ages. The exception was the Tironian et, which remained a symbol for “and” until it was superceded by that crazy upstart, the ampersanditself a melding of the word "et" into one flowing character. The Manuscripts and Archives Division holds a number of digitized Renaissance and Medieval manuscripts, where you can spot many instances of the Tironian et.  This convention did not end with the era of scriptoria; as you can see in the Library’s Gutenberg Bible, printers cut sorts of Tironian et type to save time and space as well.

    A page from NYPL’s Gutenberg Bible, Book of Numbers
    A page from NYPL’s Gutenberg Bible, Book of Numbers. Four Tironian ets, highlighted, are used alongside the longform ‘et’ in the twelfth and thirteenth lines. A later owner has added a manicule, or drawing of a pointed finger, to note a particular portion of the text.  Rare Book Division.

    The Fathers of Modern Shorthand

    Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, written in Pitman shorthand
    Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, written in Pitman shorthand. General Research Division.

    Since Tiro’s time, various shorthand systems have gone in and out of style; our collection guide lists 131 originating between 1569 and 1836 alone. Writers and reporters frequently adopted some form of shorthand, whether of their own devising, like Daniel Defoe, or following an established system, like Isaac Newton. Charles Dickens, himself a reporter before turning to fiction, claimed in an 1856 letter to Wilkie Collins, “I daresay I am at this present writing the best shorthand writer in the world.”  He learned Gurney’s system; in fact, NYPL has the very edition of Gurney that Dickens presumably studied. Dickens came to understand the very steep learning curve required by shorthand. It no doubt influenced the writing of his semi-autobiographical David Copperfield, whose titular character bemoaned the “procession of new horrors” and “despotic characters” of a system that was “almost heart-breaking.”

    If shorthand lessons were part of your educational experience, then the names Isaac Pitman and John R. Gregg are probably familiar ones. These gentlemen introduced the two most popular English shorthand systems, with Pitman achieving greater popularity in England and Gregg in America. (If you take notes using a steno pad, you may have noticed it is “Gregg Ruled.”) They are just as important to NYPL, as materials pertaining to their systems form a key portion of the shorthand collection. Gregg himself was a donor, and Pitman was honored by the Library and the Isaac Pitman Shorthand Writers' Association of New York with a dedicatory plaque that has occupied the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room since 1913.   

    The goal of any shorthand system is efficiency by reducing the amount of effort needed to write and thus increasing writing speed. Rather than the abbreviative method employed by Tiro, where symbols replaced words or common letter combinations, Pitman and Gregg are phonetic systems. Each symbol represents a specific sound, and these symbols are combined to form words. Letters that are unnecessary, either because they are not pronounced or easily inferred, are discarded.  Pitman and Gregg do employ abbreviations, or  “brief forms,” for commonly-used words like “please” and “which”oh, and “and,” of course! The more brief forms you use, the longer it takes to learn. Students can expect to dedicate years of study before achieving fluency in these systems.

    Plaque dedicated to Sir Isaac Pitman, located in the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
    NYPL plaque dedicated to Sir Isaac Pitman. Image ID 1813534.

    Shorthand may seem quaint or outdated today, but Pitman and Gregg’s work was praised, studied, and supplemented through much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Pitman was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1894, and his system was employed by playwright and shorthand enthusiast George Bernard Shaw. In the forward to Pygmalionwhich he initially wrote in Pitman shorthand Shaw reveals that the character of Henry Higgins was influenced by Henry Sweet, inventor of the Current Shorthand system. He mentions receiving postcards from Sweet that inspired the “pretty postcards in your patent shorthand” mentioned by Mrs. Higgins in Act III, as well as a manual for learning Current Shorthand that is part of NYPL’s collection.  

    Shaw was so passionate about the benefits of a phonetic alphabet that he allocated funds in his will for a “Proposed British Alphabet,” to be selected by contest and used to publish his play Androcles and the Lion. The winner, a phonetic system dubbed Shaw’s alphabet or the Shavian alphabet, was praised for its higher legibility and economy of spacein comparison to the Roman alphabet which, proponents argued, would increase one’s speed of reading as well as writing. (These traits were, incidentally, also goals for the Times New Roman typeface.) James Pitman, grandson of Isaac, claimed that someone proficient in the Shavian alphabet could write 60-100 words per minute, and a rudimentary grasp was possible after only three to four hours of study. The younger Pitman seems quite devoted to the Shavian cause: Androcles and the Lion was dedicated to his nine years of support, and in the forward he even offers to organize circles of pen pals for those interested in practicing their Shavian.

    George Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion, written in the Shavian alphabet on the left and the Roman alphabet on the right
    George Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion, written in the Shavian alphabet on the left and the Roman alphabet on the right.  This juxtaposition emphasizes the space saved by the Shavian characters. General Research Division.

    Like a proper Henry Higgins, Shaw specified that his play should be transcribed into his new alphabet with a “pronunciation to resemble that recorded of His Majesty our late King George V and sometimes described as Northern English.” One major complication for phonetic systems is the standardized spelling of wordssince each letter is based on a distinct sound, pronouncing a word differently would also change its spelling. This is less of a concern for personal note-taking, but when publishing an authoritative text, a single “voice” is neededso no American or Cockney accents here; sorry, Eliza.

    Musical Shorthand

    I sit at the piano and try to keep up with a flow of “Semiquaver, B-G; semibreve, A-flat  hold it four beats, no, six  crotchets!  F-sharp  no no no no F-sharp — and...B! Tar-tatty-tatty-tarrr!” — David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

    Reading David Mitchell’s compositionally inventive Cloud Atlas, I couldn’t get enough of the inter-war “Letters from Zedelghem” sections. They describe protagonist Robert Frobisher as he pursues employment with esteemed Belgian composer Vyvyan Ayrs.  (The storyline was a nod to real-life team Eric Fenby and Frederick Delius.) Illness prevents Ayrs from playing and notating music, so Frobisher acts as his amanuensis, frantically attempting to score music as it is quickly dictated by Ayrs. Frobisher may have appreciated NYPL’s musical shorthand books and pamphlets, held mostly by the Library for the Performing Arts, to move at a faster clip while serving as “V.A.’s sentient fountain pen.”

    Rousseau's Dream, notated in White's musical shorthand
    Rousseau's Dream, notated in White's musical shorthand.  Library for the Performing Arts.

    Like those for English words (and French, German, Italian, etc.), various systems arose for quickly recording music. NYPL holds books pertaining to musicology, sequentialism, musical stenography, and other systems, most dating to the nineteenth century. Their authors adopted a variety of methods to streamline musical notation. Some employed relative scales, also known as the “tonic-sol-fa system.” Here, the key for a musical work is indicated by letter at the beginning of the piece. This letter becomes the “tonic” or “do” notethe first note of the key’s diatonic scale. The remaining notesre, mi, fa, sol, la, and tiall follow relative to the tonic. The traditional five staff lines are therefore not necessary, since the scorer need only indicate the position of seven notes, or their equivalents in different octaves. Musicography uses only one staff line (relying on note shape to distinguish the other notes in the scale), while sequentialism uses three. As a bonus, key signatures can also be discarded; instead, the reader infers the appropriate flats or sharps based on the tonic note.  

    Notes and other symbols are also “new and improved” in these musical shorthand systems. Traditional notes often have multiple components: for example, the note head, stem, and flag of an eight note, or quaver.  Taylor replaces these with circles and dashes; White with letters; Sinn with up- and down-strokes that blend together like the phonemes of Pitman and Gregg shorthand. Some elements are even removed entirely. White and Sinn discard flats, preferring to indicate half-tones as sharps only, while De Stains considers rests optional.

    Johann Strauss’ La Rosa Waltz, rendered in standard notation above and musicography’s shorthand form below
    Johann Strauss’ La Rosa Waltz, rendered in standard notation above and De Stains' musicography’s shorthand form below.  General Research Division.

    All of these compositional shortcuts produce sheet music that often doesn’t look much like sheet music. And while White promises that only “a few minutes of study” will bring you up to speed on his brand of musical shorthand, I’m guessing that full fluency requires more of a commitment. For approachability, I would recommend starting with Sinn’s A Self Instructing Method of Short Hand Musical Notation. Framed as a series of letters to his musically-inclined nephew, this pamphlet gives a solid overview of musical shorthand principles with helpful illustrations accompanying the text.

    Shorthand Today

    Poem for remembering Pitman’s phonographic rules, from the pamphlet Pitman’s Shorthand Rhymes
    Poem for remembering Pitman’s phonographic rules, from the pamphlet Pitman’s Shorthand Rhymes.  An enterprising student has annotated the text with manuscript shorthand notes.  General Research Division.

    Today, the instruction of shorthand has all but disappeared from classroomsKingsborough Community College is perhaps the only New York City educational institution to offer Gregg shorthand classes. Dennis Hollier recently defended the usefulness of shorthand for the reporter, and after watching videos of people writing by hand at 140 words per minute (240 words per minute with a stenotype machine), I can see the benefits. A big barrier to learning is the memorization of an entirely new alphabet, as well as the many brief forms of the main shorthand systems. If you would like to speed up your own writing, but do not want to commit to the training required of Gregg or Pitman, you could try speedwriting.  Speedwriting keeps more or less to the traditional Roman alphabet, but spells words phonetically and drops easily inferred letters.  It also uses a smaller number of abbreviations, such as underlining the end of a word to signify an “-ing” ending. You won’t achieve the kind of speed that’s possible with Gregg or Pitman, but you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned in much less time.

    Even if you don’t wish to write in shorthand yourself, you may need to decipher it in order to pursue archival research. NYPL’s archival collections contain numerous documents written in shorthand: a Civil War soldier’s diary, a World War II-era German seaman’s notebook, a collection of George Bernard Shaw’s papers, and performance notes from a modern dancer and choreographer, to name a few.  One of the Library’s most noteworthy recent acquisitions, the papers of author Tom Wolfe, include Wolfe’s notes for books such as The Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff, taken in a form of Gregg shorthand.  As the number of people capable of reading shorthand decreases, these unique manuscripts practically become cipherssymbols for future research codebreakers to tackle.

    Shorthand notes from the Tom Wolfe papers
    Shorthand notes from the Tom Wolfe papers.  Manuscripts and Archives Division.  Top left: Notes from a December 6, 1978 interview with John Glenn in preparation for The Right Stuff. Top right: Interview with Edward Hayes, inspiration for the character Tommy Killian in The Bonfire of the Vanities.  Bottom: Research notes for The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

    If these words have piqued your interest in shorthand, then remember: Fortune favors the brave!  (A phrase written in shorthand around 100 A.D.)  Start with the 1935 guide to the Library’s shorthand collection, or browse over 1,300 subjects related to shorthand in our online catalog.

    Selected Resources

    Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Pitman shorthand
    Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Pitman shorthand. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy begins at the bottom of page 44’s second column and ends at the top of page 45’s second column. General Research Division.

    First image created from shorthand examples in the Gregg Shorthand Dictionary, Anniversary Edition and 5,000 Most-Used Shorthand Forms. All other images: New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox, Tilden Foundations.


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    Honestly, nothing discombobulates me more than to be asked, "What's a good beach read?" Aside from the fact that I'm not really a beach person ("Why couldn't God just make the grass extend all the way to the edge of the ocean? Why was sand created?"), I also don't find it very relaxing to read standard beach fare. That is not to say I don't like popular fiction—I do. I just happen to like very particular types of popular fiction, and one that I find more entertaining than most is what can loosely be described as "country noir"—sometimes called "hillbilly noir".  What is "country noir?" Well, it usually involves criminal activity, and the setting is usually in the rural South, particularly in Appalachia or in the Ozarks, but anywhere that has a hardscrabble rural population will suffice. If you like good, dark crime fiction, than you also might enjoy reading some of the following examples—even at the beach.


    Perhaps the best (and most accomplished) writer in the genre is Daniel Woodrell.  He is best known for his novel Winter's Bone, which was made into a very popular film that made a star out of Jennifer Lawrence. But, I want to focus on a collection of stories he wrote called The Outlaw Album because it demonstrates his greatest gifts as a writer: an unflinching gaze and a writing style that is at once both ornate and flat (believe me, I don't know how he does it). The first sentence of the first story, "The Echo of Neighborly Bones" acts as a magnet that compels you to keep reading: "Once Boshell finally killed his neighbor he couldn't quit killing him."

    Tom Franklin's Hell At The Breech is based on a real event in Alabama's history when the Hell-At-The-Breech gang terrorized the local community. Of course, the only person who can stop them is the broken-down, aging sheriff who just wants to be left alone with his whiskey bottle. Imagine the movie Rio Bravo being directed by Sam Peckinpah instead of Howard Hawks, and you'll have a sense of the visceral ferocity that is generated by Franklin's prose.

    In The Devil All The Time, Donald Ray Pollock places his young protagonist Arvin Russell in the backwoods of West Virginia to live with his grandma. There he learns to survive amidst a misfit cast of characters: a crooked sheriff and his serial-killing sister, a murderous preacher, a revivalist huckster, and a strychnine-drinking Pentecostal.  Through it all, Arvin learns many life lessons, none more useful than that "...the world was a sorry-ass place to be stuck living in."

    Rural Kentucky is the setting for Alex Taylor's debut novel The Marble Orchard. After Beam Sheetmire accidentally kills his half-brother, he tries to run and encounters a disparate collection of characters that it would be best not to encounter. Through all the Gothic plot twists, Taylor relentlessly drives his story forward with his diamond-hard, precise prose. This is a novel about hard, pitiless men trying to live in a hard, pitiless place.

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    This is a guest post from volunteer, Joanne Dillon. Joanne has interviewed several people for the NYPL Community Oral History Project and continues to share her experience and the experience of others who are participating in this historic initiative.

    Retired executive Henry Blaukopf brings to “A People’s History of Harlem” the same discipline he used while in business development positions for the music industry. With 38 interviews completed to date, it’s an approach that has served him—and the oral history project—well.

    Henry began by making a list of prominent residents and then contacting them. He visited restaurants and shops on his block and asked their owners to participate, and he talked to friends and strangers. “People were generally supportive,” he explains. At the end of each conversation, he asks for referrals, hoping to get the names of at least three additional potential storytellers.

    Harlem oral history project volunteer, Henry Blaukopf

    Henry has had conversations with an amazing group of Harlem residents, among them Congressman Charles Rangel; Alvin Reed, owner of the Lenox Lounge; Jim Robinson, who played baseball for the Negro League in the 1950s; Bill Saxton, an accomplished saxophonist and owner of Bill’s Place, a jazz club on West 133rd Street; Lloyd Williams, CEO of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; and Sharif, a peddler who sells goods from a table near Henry’s home. “I’ve heard some great stories,” Henry says.

    Henry is one of 85 dedicated volunteers who have amassed more than 145 recorded conversations with Harlem residents. State University of New York history professor Sylvie Kande is another equally dedicated volunteer.

    Sylvie joined the project in the fall of 2014 and has since completed 15 interviews. Sylvie was intrigued by how people shape narratives about themselves and their neighborhood. “This has been one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever been involved with,” she says.

    Harlem oral history volunteer Sylvie Kande

    Sylvie began by asking neighbors if they would agree to be interviewed. While she looks to record diverse experiences and different viewpoints, she has found a common theme among all the storytellers. “Harlem is an area where both culture and counter-culture have thrived,” she explains. “The people I’ve met have all spoken about Harlem with the same fervor and enthusiasm.”

    Sylvie believes her experience has helped expand her professional knowledge. “I’ve now gained practical oral history skills that I bring to the classroom,” she said. “And I’m encouraging my students to capture stories from their own families.”

    Henry, too, has benefitted from participation. “I’ve met some fabulous people, made some great contacts, and expanded my world,” he says.

    Others, too, see the benefits of the project. Alison Williams, manager of the Macomb’s Bridge branch in the Harlem River Houses, believes that “A People’s History of Harlem” has helped increase awareness of the facility in the surrounding area. “Macomb’s Bridge is one of the smallest libraries in the branch system. But this project is helping us expand the community we serve,” she explained.

    Alison also believes that because Harlem is changing so rapidly, its history is at risk of disappearing. “Gentrification is taking place all over; it’s important we record Harlem’s history before it’s lost to future generations.”

    For Helen Broady, a librarian at the 115th Street branch, the project presented an opportunity to connect newcomers to Harlem with long-time residents. Interviewers and storytellers meet and mingle at regularly scheduled community meetings, where they get to know one another in a relaxed setting. She’s also conducted memory circles, where several neighborhood residents met and reminisced in group interviews. And she sees potential in recording the history of community organizations, too, as they are valuable contributors to the well-being of a neighborhood.

    Helen, who has conducted several interviews herself, has great admiration for all of the project’s volunteers: “To a one, our volunteers are friendly, curious, dedicated, and, above all, good listeners.”

    A People's History of Harlem: Our Neighborhood Oral History Project has captured over 150 oral histories. The collection process is coming to a close on Friday, May 29th. If you want more information about how you can share your story (if you're just hearing about this!), please contact or 212-621-0552.

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    Andi and Bruce love their dogs, Bebe, Friday, and Red Rover more than anything. One day, they have the great idea of posting an online newspaper for dogs. It will be full of feature stories all about dogs and for dogs.

    • Bully is a bulldog who sits in a high chair to eat dinner with his family. He even gets mashed potatoes in his ears.
    • Andi posts a poem about a glamorous poodle. Poetry about canines is the best.
    • Pooches being dognapped is another lead story! Andi and Bruce are on a chase to find them before it is too late!

    Andi and Bruce record their adventures of their canine companions on cyberspace.

    News for Dogs by Lois Duncan, 2009

    Another book by this author, Hotel for Dogs, was made into a movie.


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    push girl

    Kara Moore was a dancer: The dance studio was home to her, and she even had a Dance Mom to complete the picture. Add to that a boyfriend and trusted friends Jack and Amanda. The major trouble in her life was her parents bickering. Then, Kara gets hit by a drunk driver on her way to Taco Bell.

    She regains consciousness some time later with both of the parental units looking over her, haggard and worried. She is a bit disoriented, but nothing could prepare her for the shock of her life. Kara Moore will never walk again.

    Dance was her life.

    Kara learns how to use a wheelchair. She looks online at designer chairs, and she visits an online message board to learn how others with disabilities are coping. She deals with her own emotions and those of others about her spinal cord injury.

    Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love, 2014


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  • 05/29/15--08:10: Up Your Kid-Lit Game
  • Everyone knows Goodnight Moon and Blueberries for Sal, but there’s a world of undiscovered children’s books just waiting for a new audience.

    This week, NYPL staff recommend pairs of children’s books: a classic plus a newer release, for adults ready to move beyond their own beloved childhood stories.

    If you're a fan of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, be sure to check out Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. Jeremy spends his days sitting alone in his room, until one day he uses his fancy pen to draw a monster. The monster is one of my favorite (and most memorable) picture book characters! —Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge Library

    Just as Charlie found that golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Kyle Keely gets a chance to be one of 12 kids who spend a night in the town’s newest library in Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Will Kyle be the first to solve the puzzles in the library to claim the prize? —Anna Taylor, Children’s Programming

    If you enjoyed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, take a gander at Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making. Both titles are part of a series (for an immersive experience!) and include world-altering adventures, lovable characters, and enchanting new places.—Alexandria Abenshon, Countee Cullen

    How about Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker for fans of Ramona by Beverly Cleary?  Both are about spunky little girls navigating the trials and travails of everyday life!—Susan Tucker Heimbach, Mulberry Street

    If you loved George and Martha or Frog and Toad, try the lovably hilarious odd couple Bink and Gollie for wild mini-stories with concise writing, a relatable gamut of emotions, and a sincere core of friendship. The books also share an attention to small, funny, fitting details in the illustrations, which add an extra laugh. —Jill Rothstein, Andrew Heiskell

    Matilda is a smart girl with magical powers; Flora is a smart girl with a squirrel with magical powers. In Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, join this duo as you learn about love and family, while laughing out loud. —Anna Taylor, Children’s Programming

    One of my favorite classics isHappy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch. Try pairing this with I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. Both endearing stories about bears and their hats! —Ronni Krasnow, Morningside Heights

    I had fond memories of Marshmallow by Clare Turlay Newberry. For today’s kid on the go, Moon Rabbit and Brown Rabbit in the City by Natalie Russell have a similar appeal and more modern and cosmopolitan aesthetic. —Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

    If you liked Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, then try the Jackaby series by William Ritter. The second book, Beastly Bones, will be published this September. (It does not disappoint; I read an Advanced Readers Copy in a day.) Both series feature young, independent protagonists and are filled with intrigue and fantastical happenings. —A.E. Butler, Muhlenberg

    If you're a fan of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Burton, try Dig! by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. Both feature protagonists who love their diggers, and both diggers get the job done and save the day! 

    And speaking of things that go: If you like Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky, check out Toot and Pop! by Sebastien Braun, both of which feature winning tugboats.—Susan Tucker Heimbach, Mulberry Street

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    Welcome back to our online book discussion of Nick Harkaway's Tigerman as part of Reader's Den at New York Public Library.

    This week, we will be discussing the first six chapters of the novel. Please see below for our the schedule for our upcoming posts:

    Week 1: Introduction
    Week 2: Chapters 1-6
    Week 3: Chapters 7-14
    Week 4: Chapters 15-21

    Tigerman is driven by its vivid characters. In the opening chapters, we are introduced first to a local Mancreu boy, nicknamed Robin, whose worldview is shaped by Star Wars, comic books (particularly those penned by Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison, and Warren Ellis), and online interactions:

    "The boy's English was self-taught and uneven, peppered with guest appearances from movies and TV, from online games whose players were in America, Europe and China. When he spoke he could shift in one moment from the manner of a too-serious Harvard freshman to that of a teenaged Shanghai goldfarmer sweating in a vast warehouse of machines" (p. 4).

    His companion is Sergeant Lester Ferris, a British officer who is approaching middle age and has been stationed on the island in a purely prefunctory role, three years after the official withdrawal of Great Britain from Mancreu:

    "The man was of medium height and craggy. he was still six months shy of forty, but he looked fatigued and even a little lost. His face was leathered by a life of actual soldiering in inclement places, and he had scars, about which he was self-conscious. Scars were supposed to be narrow, white lines which looked raffish, not puckered worms slithering forever across your shoulder nad itching abominably. They should be discreet, so that a man could boast about them to girls. He was thickset--and some of that was this recent bout of soft living, he had to concede, even if the rest was working heft--but he semmed to move carefully, as if the world was fragile and he didn't want to break it" (p. 5).

    Beyond the two central protagonists of the novel, we meet a wide cast of striking characters, including: the mysterious trickster figure of Bad Jack who is known sometimes to help and other times to rob lost travelers, the albino scrivener White Raoul and his famously beautiful daughter Sandrine, the brilliant Japanese xenobiologist Kaiko Inoue, and the crass but endearing American Jed Kerhsaw.

    And this is not even to mention supporting characters such as: Dirac the Frenchman, the Ukranian Pechorin, The Witch, and the cafe proprieter Shola. The narrative is a sprawling yarn, bursting with memorable faces and incorporating elements of science fiction, detective novels, and superhero comics. Perhaps what is most interesting, though, is the way in which these genre tropes are balanced by prose which is often brutal, unflinching, and realist in its depiction of the action. A sudden and seemingly senseless murder in Chapter 3 captures this blending of pulp and realism and serves as a sort of origin story for the hero who will become Tigerman.

    Some discussion questions:

    1. Was there a specific character you enjoyed or with whom you identified?
    2. How would you describe this novel to a friend in terms of genre?
    3. What was your reaction to the violent events in Chapter 3 and the invention of the Tigerman persona?

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    Nerdfighters are counting down the days until “Paper Towns”the movie version of John Green’s 2008 novel, following last summer’s blockbuster version of The Fault In Our Starshits theaters on July 24.

    While you wait to watch Q and co. take their road trip on the big screen, help pass the time with a few other character-driven YA titles with elements of mystery and travel.

    Join 17-year-old Evie O’Neill at the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult in Libba Bray’s The Diviners. Set in New York City in the Roaring Twenties, the book follows Evie as she and her unclethe curator of the museuminvestigate a rash of murders. (The second book in this trilogy is due out in August.)

    A blind protagonist and her brother travel from London to New York to look for their missing father in She Is Not InvisibleAuthor Marcus Sedgwick tells the story in first person as Laureth experiences it, without visual clues or context, and makes readers question what it really means to see.

    Take the ultimate road trip with Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This classic tale of intergalactic travel after Earth is destroyed to make room for a space highway appeals to all ages. Don’t panic, and don’t forget your towel.

    Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff also features a London-to-New-York journey. After the disappearance of her father’s best friend, exceptionally perceptive Mila collects clues about his life and her own relationship to her family. (Rosoff’s debut, How I Live Now, flips that journey, with a protagonist traveling from NYC to London, only to be trapped there when a world war breaks out.)

    Try some magical realism with Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar. Five students at a school for “fragile” teens take a special English class in which journals transport them, literally and figuratively, to the sources of their grief. They have to find their own ways out.

    And don’t miss John Green’s backlist, including An Abundance of Katherines— another book with a teen road trip.

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    New York, 1890

    Are you an immigrant business owner? Start planning now for the future of your enterprises and your familes and learn to create an exit strategy that works for you.

    Blueprint for your Business Future is a set of six three-hour workshops on Succession Planning, which covers:

    Transition Planning - Why Plan Now?

    • Anticipate unexpected circumstances
    • Find the best strategy for you   
    • Avoid costly expenses and taxes


    Selling your Business  

    • How to make a smart sale 
    • Understand the sales process 
    • Locate trustworthy sales professionals 
    • How to find qualified buyers 

    Business Valuation -How Much is Your Business Worth? 

    • Determine the value of your business
    • Common valuation approaches
    • Steps you can take to increase the value of your business

    Legal and Accounting Issues 

    • Structure a business to minimize taxes
    • Deal with regulatory and legal issues
    • Organize legal and financial documents 

    Transferring Ownership 

    • Who will take over?
    • Select and train successors
    • Understand the role of the family
    • Manage the transition smoothly

    Estate Planning 

    • Continue business operations after owner’s death
    • Minimize taxes during business transition
    • Optimize benefits to family members

    Workshop instructor Barbara Roberts has forty years of experience helping small businesses reach next stage growth.  

    Blueprint is funded through THRIVE, a program of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

    Please email with any questions. 

    To register for the workshop which begins on June 23, 2015, 4:30-8:30 pm at Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Road please click here.




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  • 06/01/15--07:07: It's Tony Time!
  • This is it: The Super Bowl for theater fans! The 49th annual Tony Awards will be presented on Sunday, June 7th, and the Library can help you get familiar with some of this year's nominees.  

    The Tony Award

    In the Best Play category, the front runner seems to be The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Nighttime, based on the acclaimed novel by Mark Haddon. When I first read that this was going to be a play, I could not imagine how it could be done, but director Marianne Elliot does a brilliant job of bringing the world of Christopher Boone, a young boy with Asperger's Syndrome, to life. You actually see the world as Christopher sees it, at once scary, confusing, funny, overwhelming, and surprising. I would highly recommend reading the novel before seeing the play, only because each is excellent in its own way. Also in contention are Wolf Hall, based on the best-selling novel by Hilary Mantel, and Disgraced, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner by Ayad Akhtar. Sadly, Disgraced has already closed, but I found it to be a very provocative piece about religion, identity, the Islamic experience, and assumptions people make about other cultures. A reading of the script could lead to an interesting and intense discussion.

    In the Best Musical category, there's An American In Paris, based on the famed movie starring Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly. The musical makes some signifcant changes to the story about soldiers in the city at the end of World War II, but it features amazing choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. Tying An American in Paris with 12 nominations is Fun Homewith a book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori. Based on the graphic novel by Allison Bechdel, Fun Home is the autobiographical story of Bechdel's coming to terms with her sexuality, her father's hidden life and subsequent suicide, and the oddities of living in a house that also functioned as a funeral home. If it wins, Fun Home will be the first musical with a creative team comprised entirely of women to take the top honor. Also in the running are The Visit, based on the play by Friedrich Durrenmatt, and featuring the last score by the legendary songwriting team of Kander and Ebb, and Something Rotten, which, without spoiling the surprise, makes Shakespeare and Hamlet  hilarious in ways you can't imagine.

    The musical revival category is chock full of shows with scores by masters of the form. There's The King and I, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, On The Town, by Leonard Bernstein and Comden and Green, and On The Twentieth Century by Cy Coleman and Comden and Green.

    Hopefully, some of these resources and links  will help you discover something new or different that opens your eyes, heart, and mind, and maybe even convinces you to experience the joy of live theater.

    Happy Tony week!

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    Registering Names
    Registering Names at Castle Garden, 1871 IMAGE ID: 800772


    Like any word in the dictionary, a person’s name has meaning. The study of names is called onomastics or onomatology. Onomastics covers the naming of all things, including place names (toponyms) and personal names (anthroponyms). Given names, often called first names, and surnames, often called last names, usually derive from words with distinct origins.

    The most common reasons to explore the field of personal names in onomastics is for genealogical research and for choosing a name for a child. The Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy is an excellent place to start research into personal names.

    Feeding babies in the nursery.  IMAGE ID:1536546

    Choosing a Baby Name

    For most, choosing a name for a newborn is an activity of utmost significance. “The act of naming a newborn infant is an important rite of passage in society.” (Nuessel). Filling in a birth certificate, making a name announcement to family members, and holding a formal religious naming ceremony all represent “a process of individuation in which a person becomes a separate entity who will ultimately develop a unique personality.” Nuessel also attests “most people recognize that giving a name to a child is a significant social function with profound and lifelong consequences.”

    In The Anthropology of Names and Naming, this significance is upheld: “The right to a name is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, recognizing the implications of carrying a name that begin at the earliest moments of social being.” Names help a person establish an identity, and the process of “naming is a crucial aspect of converting ‘anybodies’ into ‘somebodies’.” Names also help tie a new child into a family identity because “the act of naming has the potential to implicate infants in relations…Individual lives thus become entangledthrough the namein the life histories of others.” (Bodenhorn).

    farmer with child
    Tenant farmer with child , Lee Co., Miss. Aug. 1935 IMAGE ID: 1260027

    Finding the Meanings of Names You Like

    A name dictionary is the best resource, though it is a good idea to compare entries in more than one dictionary as they may differ in methodology and scholarship. A reliable online dictionary is Name dictionaries are available as general dictionaries or specialized ones, such as by language or culture, e.g. Your name is your blessing : Hebrew names and their mystical meanings and 1,001 African names : first and last names from the African continent, or thematic, e.g. The Arthurian name dictionary.

    Man with child
    W. Braese holding a baby, 1921 IMAGE ID:1537080

    Looking for a Related Name

    Name dictionaries will list cognate names. For example, if you wanted a feminine version of Charles, you could choose from Charlene, Charlotte, Carole, Caroline, Carolina, Carly, Carla, Carlotta, Carolyn, Carrie, Charlize, as well as other names and a variety of spelling variants with “Sh” and “K”.

    Looking for Inspiration

    If you are searching for a name with a particular meaning, you may want to use a reverse dictionary: e.g. First name reverse dictionary : given names listed by meaning.

    Finding the Popularity of Names

    Each year the Social Security Administration releases statistics for the registered births of the United States for the previous year. You can also use the SSA data to track previous years’ popular names back through 1880 or see what is popular by each state. Many other countries also compile and release this data to the public annually.

    Typical Joyous Family
    Typical American Family IMAGE ID: 1685171

    Finding the Meaning and History of Your Family Name

    The meanings of surnames can often tell us a bit about our ancestors’ lives, sometimes including the region from which they came or the occupations for which they were known. However, one should not just guess. “Guessing the meaning of a surname is a dangerous game to play. What seems to be an obvious explanation is often completely wrong. One reason for this is that surnames have changed considerably in form over the centuries, and another is that even where the word is the same it may well have had a very different meaning at the time when surnames were being formed.” (David Hey, Family Names and Family History).

    Many surnames fall into these general types:

    • Locative : the name is also a place name, usually where the family was from at some point on their timeline. This can also include a feature of the landscape such as Hill or River.

    • Occupational : the career of the person. e.g. Baker, Brewer, Smith, Miller. This can be less obvious for lesser known or outmoded careers such as Cooper (barrel maker) or Fletcher (arrow maker).

    • Descriptive : A distinguishing characteristic of the person. e.g. Short, Fairchild, Friend.

    • Descendant / Relationship: a prefix or suffix added on to an ancestor’s given name to show kinship. e.g. Robertson, Pierrot, Fitzpatrick, O’Connor, Tomkins, MacGregor.

    A good name dictionary is created using historical evidence from documents to locate the name throughout history. The study of surnames in onomastics requires a combination of language studies and genealogical methods to match the evolution of words with the individuals who used those words as their names and how that usage changes over time. Check the introduction of the name dictionary for methodology on how the data was compiled. It is also a good idea to compare the entries for a name in several name dictionaries. A name dictionary will often provide an immediate answer to the meaning of the name and often its etymology, but not your family’s genealogy. However, your family’s genealogy may help you discover the meaning of your surname (Redmonds).

    One of the best reference works to consult for a surname origin is The Dictionary of American Family Names, also available via Oxford Reference online.

    Dictionary American Family Names
    Dictionary of American Family Names

    The Dictionary of American Family Names contains more than 70,000 of the most commonly occurring surnames in the United States, giving their comparative frequencies, linguistic and historical explanations, selected associated forenames, and occasional genealogical notes. The product of a ten-year research project gathering the contributions of thirty linguistic consultants led by Editor in Chief Patrick Hanks, it explains the meanings—some intuitive, some amusing, and some quite surprising—of the family names for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population.

    Other surname dictionaries are generally specific to the country of origin or dominant culture. Some of the most popularly requested reference works include:

    French: Encyclopédie des noms de famille
    German: Dictionary of German names
    Irish: Sloinnte uile Éireann = All Ireland surnames | Surnames in Ireland
    Italian: I cognomi d'Italia : dizionario storico ed etimologico

    Jewish: Jewish family names and their origins : an etymological dictionary
    Scottish: The surnames of Scotland : their origin, meaning, and history
    Spanish: Diccionario de apellidos españoles

    Names Document
    A page of signers to the Declaration of Independence IMAGE ID: 4005342

    Origins of the Use of Surnames

    Different cultures began using surnames at different times and not uniformly across social classes. In general, landowners tended to take the names of their estates long before working and peasant classes adopted surname usage. In China, surnames amongst nobility date back to circa 2800 BCE. In Spain, surnames amongst landowning aristocrats date back to the 10th century. In the United Kingdom, English surnames date back to the 14th century, yet Wales and the Shetland Islands did not use surnames consistently until the 19th century. In Iceland, surnames are not hereditary, and a child is named after their parent, usually the father, with the suffix -son or -dottir. African-Americans, Eastern European Jews, Native Americans, and Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam largely had surname customs imposed onto them by outside agencies. To understand the origins of a surname, you will need to investigate the distinct history of family names in that culture (Bockstruck). Surnames can also originate independently in different cultures. Lee (alternate spelling Li) is a popular surname in China, Korea and English speaking countries, having arisen independently in China and England and spreading outward from those places.

    Why so many variations of the same names?  

    “Names have often had different forms before they settled down to an accepted spellings and pronunciation. Patrick Brontë’s name was recorded as Branty, Brunty, Bruntee, Prunty and so on before he made his idiosyncratic choice of spelling” (Hey). William Shakespeare signed his name with at least three different spellings (Davis).

    Essentially, corruption of speech, regional accents, translation, and conscientious name changes cause evolution over time. “It has long been recognized that any surname can have a variety of spellings in the course of its history. Some of these are predictable, reflecting differences of pronunciation between one region and another, or between one century and another, others are the result of ignorance, misunderstanding or even deliberate remotivation. It is probably a much more complex aspect of surname development than is generally realized, particularly in the case of migrating surnames which had no obvious or apparent meaning” (Redmonds).

    Martel Family Souvenir Photo IMAGE ID: TH-33810

    An illiterate or semi-literate person may have had no say on how their name was written on documents. In addition, spelling was more negotiable in the past and the same name spelled in a variety of ways would have still been considered to be the same name. An example representing the same family: Mally, O’Mally, Meahley, Malley, O’Malley, Mealy, Ó Máille etc.

    Another common spelling morph occurs when a non-English name retains its pronunciation in another language, but the spelling is adapted to English phonetics. Examples provided by Bockstruck include Tacquet (French origin) morphing to Tacket and Schoen (Dutch origin) morphing to Shane. Bockstruck also recounts this tale of surname morphing involving sound-alikes and translation:

    “in Lincoln County, North Carolina, descendants of a colonial German progenitor named Klein held a family reunion. In addition to descendants who appeared under that name, direct male line descendants also appeared as Cline, Short, Small, and Little, all of which were English equivalents.”

    Strictly adhering to one form of spelling of a name becomes more consistent over time as areas adopt forms of legal identification, such as passports and state-issued driver’s licenses, and even more so as those records are kept in computer databases where the spelling needs to be exact to retrieve the correct result.

    Father and child
    Russian father and child IMAGE ID:51879

    Spelling Fixations

    Newcomers to genealogy research can be fixated on the spelling of names, often dismissing a spelling error to mean that the family found in a document was not the correct one for whom they were searching. This is roughly equivalent to refusing the drink you already paid for at a coffee shop because the barista misspelled your name on the cup.

    Names in Translation

    For many, translating a name from one language to another is not the same as changing a name since the meaning of the words remains intact. In The name is the game : onomatology and the genealogist, Bockstruck cites this example:

    “Theophilus Taylor was a settler in the Carolina piedmont. At the time of his arrival in the British colonies he bore the name of Gotlieb Schneider. He eventually translated both his forename and surname into English and became Theophilus Taylor. Making that discovering ought to have allowed a genealogical researcher to bridge the Atlantic Ocean and to locate his baptismal entry in his village of origin in Germany. The entry in the parish register, however, was actually in Latin, and his name appeared as Amadeus Sartor.”

    Bockstruck cites another language name morph in the case of a Scotsman named Ian Ferguson. Ferguson moved to an area of the colony of New York settled by Palatine Germans and amongst those German speakers was known as Johann Feuerstein. Many years later he moved on to Philadelphia and his name was rendered in English as John Flint. His grandson, Peter Flint moved to French-speaking Louisiana and his name was recorded as Pierre a Fusil. When moving on to Texas some years later, the name was translated from Fusil to Gunn. In three short generations the surname had morphed four times to fit into the colloquial language of the area where the person was living.

    This practice is not entirely over. If you read a newspaper article in Portugal about Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, you will find her name written as Isabel. Likewise, if you read an American newspaper about a visit from a foreign diplomat of a country that uses a non-Roman alphabet, you will see their names rendered into the Roman alphabet instead of being printed in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese, or Arabic, etc. Although this process is somewhat more standardized now than it has been in the past, you will still find variations in translations. You may remember different news organizations reporting on Osama bin Laden (most common) as also Usama bin Laden, Osama bin Ladin, Ussamah bin Ladin, and in French media as Oussama ben Laden. Some members of this family use the surname Binladen on western paperwork.  

    Tenement family
    Tenement Family, New York IMAGE ID: 416564

    One-Name Studies

    One-Name Studies are the research on all individuals with one particular surname (and usually its variant spellings). One-Name studies are not limited to those who are related to each other, and include all individuals with the same name in the past or present, though there are some studies to that limited the study to certain geographic boundaries such as a country or county. Indeed, surname maps can be useful for genealogy research. The ultimate goal of most one-name studies is to identify the origin of a name, particularly locative-based surnames. The Guild of One-Name Studies, active mostly in in the United Kingdom, is an organization of many of these one-name societies and researchers.  

    Names Can Be Changed

    Although there is a formal legal procedure to the process, usually anyone can change their name for any reason in the United States. The process is different in each jurisdiction, but in general, if a person files the correct paperwork in the correct court of law, the name change will be granted. This process is simplified in most states for those who change their name after marriage. According to LegalZoom, common reasons for name changes currently are

    • Taking the natural father's name (e.g., after being born out of wedlock or adopted).

    • Changing to the mother's maiden name (e.g., after a divorce).

    • Identifying with a foreign nationality (e.g., to show grandparents' nationality).

    • A cumbersome name (e.g., difficult to spell and/or pronounce).

    • Professional identity (e.g., legally maintaining a maiden name or changing to a pen name).

    • Gay or lesbian (e.g., both partners want to share the same last name).

    Few are denied requests for name changes, though you cannot legally change your name to avoid debts or prosecution, or with the intent of defrauding someone. This has generally been true throughout United States history, and there is a likelihood that you may encounter a relative that has changed his or her name when doing genealogical research. However, the name was not changed at Ellis Island, but a person may have elected to change their name during the naturalization process. Current applications for naturalization still allow for name changes as part of the process. In some modern cases, people are “reverting” to a version of the name their ancestors once had. For more information about name changes during the naturalization process, see New York State Archives: Records of Name Changes in Naturalizations.

    Some name changes are to avoid certain associations. For example, to bypass infamy of others with the same family name: there are few people with the surname Hitler. Other name changes are related to colloquial terms, perceptions of crudeness, and slang. Bockstruck cites legal name changes for the surname “Hoar” which so closely sounds like “whore” and names with the suffix “-cock” such as Woodcock, Haycock, and Glasscock.

    Find more about the study of names:

    Family Names


    Research Your Surname


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    The Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce presents the 2015 Career Expo with the support of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security of Spain on Friday, June 19, 2015, 12:00 p.m.6:00 p.m. at Citi Executive Conference Center, 153 East 53rd Street, 14th Floor, New York City.

    Spainish citizens under 35 years old are invited to attend. 


    chamber of commerce

    Employers offering internships and/or full-time positions are invited to participate. Please contact Sandre Martin, Career Services Coordinator, at or call 212-967-2170 for further information.


    Employers are seeking candidates across all majors and degrees: architecture, engineering, computer science, business, accounting, finance, law, marketing, media, advertising, journalism, hospitality, and retail.

    The 2015 Career Expo will offer you the opportunity to meet with a large number of employers and recruiters from diverse industries and learn more about both domestic and international positions.

    Additional information and registration

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    The lame jokes, the corny repertoire. None of it is funny, yet you are supposed to laugh. We've all been there with our parents.

    "Would you like some dinner with that ketchup?" is one such question a parent might elicit.

    My father says, "Good morning," when it is evening.

    My father says, "the sky," when I ask what's up.

    My father says, "Don't get wet." when I go swimming.

    Whether you want a confusing answer or an obvious statement, turn to Dad.

    My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein, 2010.




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    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement.

    Currently BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.

    Brooklyn Woods trains individuals in the basics of woodworking, preparing them for entry-level jobs in woodwork and related fields. Upon successful completion of the program, job placement assistance is provided.  About 85% of successful graduates obtain entry level employment at a starting wage approximately $ 11.50 per hour.

    This free, seven-week, full time training course (Mon-Fri from 8 AM to 4 PM) includes instructions in:

    • The proper use of hand tools, power tools, and woodworking machinery
    • An introduction to finishing and sanding, veneering, wood identification, and reading shop drawings
    • How to cut, machine, sand, and assemble a cabinet
    • Shop math and measurement
    • Comprehensive safety training including a 10-hour OSHA course
    • Soft skills training to aid in getting and keeping employment
    • Job placement assistance (for successful graduates)

    Minimum Requirements2876.jpg

    To be Eligible Applicants MUST:

    • Have minimal or some experience working with wood or as a laborer, as a carpenter’s helper, in a trade or working with your hands
    • Have a strong interest in working in woodworking or a related field as a career
    • Be unemployed or underemployed
    • Be able to attend class Monday-Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM for 7 weeks
    • Be 21 years or older
    • Resident of NYC; Eligible to work in the U.S.
    • Pass an 8th grade reading test and 6th grade math test
    • Be physically fit/able to lift 70 lbs.                                                                                            

    Those receiving public assistance, including food stamps, and individuals with criminal backgrounds are welcome to apply. Individuals who have previously completed a BWI training program are not eligible to take another BWI training.

    Next cycle free job training in woodworking will begin in late June 29, 2015 to August 14, 2015. To apply, you must attend an Information Session in June.


    Please bring Photo ID and a pen. Be prepared to spend about three hours at the facility. You will fill out an application, receive detailed information about the program, tour the state-of-art workshop, and complete the tests.

    Location: 125 8th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue) in Brooklyn.

    Subway: Take R Train to 9th Street or F/G Trains to 4th Avenue. Walk north on 4th Avenue to 8th Street and make a left. Walk down 8th Street, cross 3rd Avenue and continue until you see a gray metal door marked 125. Ring the buzzer for Brooklyn Woods, which is located on the 2nd floor.

    Car drivers: Please note that street parking is extremely difficult to find on 8th Street and the surrounding blocks.

    For information, please contact Drew Furnari, Program Associate 718-389-3636 x0 or email Toby Gardner at

    You can learn more about woodworkers from the Occupational Outlook Handbook  Jan. 2014:

    The following are important qualities of woodworkers from the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

    • Detail oriented. Woodworkers must pay attention to details to be certain that the products meet specifications and to keep themselves safe.
    • Dexterity. Woodworkers must make precise cuts with a variety of saws, so they need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.
    • Math skills. Knowledge of basic math and computer skills are important, particularly for those who work in manufacturing, where technology continues to advance. Woodworkers need to understand geometry to visualize how the wood pieces will fit together to make a 3-dimensional object, such as a cabinet or piece of furniture.
    • Mechanical skills. Modern technology systems require woodworkers be able to use programmable devices, computers, and robots on the factory floor.
    • Physical strength. Woodworkers must be strong enough to lift bulky and heavy sheets of wood, such as plywood.
    • Stamina. The ability to endure long periods of standing and repetitious movements is crucial for woodworkers, as they often stand for extended periods when manufacturing parts and products.
    • Technical skills. Woodworkers must be able to understand blueprints and technical manuals for a range of products and machines.

    You can also learn about carpenters from the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014.

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    George Bruce Library is an example of the importance and relevance libraries are to the communities they serve. They have become epicenters to the people who visit their branches every operating day. 

    The George Bruce branch of The New York Public Library will be 100 years old this year. 

    George Bruce Building Now

    Did you know that this is not the original location of the George Bruce Library? 

    It's true. It was originally housed along 42nd Street. In 1877, Catherine Bruce donated $50,000 for a library to be built and books to be furnished in memory of her father. The library was completed in 1888, but sold in 1915. The funds of that sale were used to construct its current building location.  

    Old George Bruce Branch at 226 West 42nd Street. Image ID: 1151288
    New George Bruce Branch, before opening. Image ID: 1151289

    The building underwent a renovation in 1999, housing a temporary trailer which offered modified library services. George Bruce reopened to the delight of the community in 2001, with one major addition which the previous building lacked… an elevator. 

    Did you know that George Bruce was one of the earlier innovators of fonts? 

    Well, sort of. He partnered with his brother David, and together they became successful in creation of typeface, a set design for characters. It was George who would become the innovator and leader in typography. Typography would evolve into fonts. These fonts would grow and mature into what now utilize in everyday computing. 

    In a way, George Bruce's legacy is still evident after all these years. From the typeface of the books housed in the building bearing his name. To the computers within the branch, where users can select the type of fonts used for documents onscreen. It all goes back to his tenacious work of the past. 

    To celebrate, we are holding a Centennial Celebration at the branch on Tuesday June 2, 2015.

    Come in and celebrate with the staff and various members of the community as we ring in 100 years of service.  And of course, commemorate the generous gift his daughter left to New Yorkers... the George Bruce Library.

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    Damien Echols spent eighteen years on death row before being released. His book Life After Death recounts his story about upending the ruling that threatened to end his life, and he has also worked with Peter Jackson on the film West  of Memphis. We were fortunate to have him at LIVE from the NYPL in conversation with musician and actor Henry Rollins. The two spoke about life in prison, hope, and writing.

    Henry Rollins and Damien Echols LIVE from the NYPL
    Henry Rollins and Damien Echols LIVE from the NYPL

    Although Echols spent almost two decades on death row, he explains that it's nearly impossible to ever adjust to prison life:

    "I was in prison probably five years before I started to really come out of that fight-or-flight response and to be able to function even semi rationally as a human being anymore. Five years it took. But even then, that’s not a one time thing either. You know, to take it in, for it to become the new normal is also a process. Because the horror and the atrocities and everything else you see keep building. In the beginning you’re dealing with things like the food they’re feeding you. Just how horrendous that is, or the conditions you’re living in, the bugs, the rats, the heat, whatever it is. As soon as you start getting used to that, then they start executing people, so it’s always like there’s a horror, a next horror that comes along that’s a little bigger than the last one, so you never really get used to it."

    After receiving the death sentence, Echols could neither entirely harbor hope nor fall into hopelessness. Instead, he was able to tamp down the extremity of his emotions to cope with the unthinkable punishment he had been handed:

    "I think what sort of starts to happen at first, is it’s almost like you’re on a roller coaster. You know, every time something comes up, you know, for example, say DNA testing comes in. Or a new eyewitness comes forth or somebody comes up and says, 'I lied on the stand. I want to tell the truth now.' You start thinking, 'Okay, this is it, I’m finally going home. Surely now when somebody sees the absurdity of this, surely someone is going to step in and do something about it.' But they don’t. Something happens and another year goes by, another two years go by, and eventually it gets to the point where I would call home and Lorri would tell me about some huge development in the case, and I would say, 'oh okay,' and then I would go back to reading, because it gets to the point it burns you out inside, it’s almost like living in an adrenaline rush. And you have to let go of it, you have to move beyond it, it is, that’s what it is. It’s going beyond hope and hopelessness. If you live in this constant state of hope, you’re wasting your days. You’re wasting the time that you have there alive. Maybe a day’s going to come when you’re going to be outside again. Maybe it’s not, maybe they’re going to kill you. But if you spend every single moment looking toward the future, then you don’t enjoy what you do have. The hopelessness, you have to move beyond that, too."

    During his time in prison, Echols wrote as a way of maintaining possession of his memories. He describes writing as a way of treasuring:

    "By the time I got out I remembered that pizza had been my favorite food, but I couldn’t remember what it tasted like anymore. And there were so many other things that I was scared to death of losing. The only thing I had that I cherished that I wanted to hold on to were the years before I came to prison. So I would write those out and just think about the tiniest detail to keep from losing it. You know, for example, the way the doorknob of my grandmother’s front door would feel on a cold winter day when I would put my hand on it, and I would write that out, almost to engrave it in my brain to keep from losing it... I would write about all these different things and do it over and over and over again because it was all I had. You know, it was almost like taking out your most valued possessions and then turning them over and over."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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    I came to Iris Owens and her 1973 novel, After Claude, after looking through seemingly endless lists looking for the perfect literary antiheroine, in keeping with this year's Reader's Den theme of superheroes and antiheroes.  

    After Claude's Harriet might be the ultimate anti-heroine: rude, racist, delusional, manipulative, but above all, sharp as a tack, and very, very funny.  She opens the book with the line, "I left Claude, the French rat," but we soon learn that Harriet's version of reality doesn't fall into line with that of anyone else. Not Claude, who has finally succeeded in throwing her out of his Greenwich Village apartment, not with her former friend Rhoda-Regina, committed to Bellevue after Harriet's insane attempt at matchmaking goes predictably awry. 

    It's easy to draw comparisons between the fictional Harriet and Iris Owens: both were from Brooklyn, and returned to New York after spending some years in Paris. Owens supported herself while she lived in Paris by writing erotic fiction under the name Harriet Daimler After coming back to New York, she lived for years in an apartment on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village, which at some points in her life she rarely left.  In a lengthy and fascinating interview with the writer Stephen Koch, he describes his complicated friendship with Owens, her "wide sadistic streak," her ability to manipulate her friends, and above all, "the spell" that she cast over people.  

    When After Claude was published again as a NYRB classic in 2010, Emily Prager described in the introduction the difficulties in maintaining a friendship with Owens. She had a long list of falling outs with a long list of well-known people, "including Samuel Beckett, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Ad Reinhardt, Rudy Wurlitzer, and Robert Mapplethorpe." She played poker with Woody Allen, who may have based Anjelica Huston's character in Manhattan Murder Mystery on her. Koch describes her intelligence, her beauty, and her ability to manipulate and even humiliate the people around her.

    In the next Reader's Den post, we will look more closely at After Claude, both its setting in the Greenwich Village of the 1970s, its wild ending in the Chelsea Hotel, and Harriet, the anti-heroine who brings drama and turmoil to everyone she meets! Please leave your comments below. 

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