Archival footage from Binghamton University Archives Captured in Video

Binghamton University has a rich and unique history. This video captures that history through footage recovered from the Binghamton University archives, shot on 8mm and 16mm film, and digitally transferred by Binghamton’s own James Pitarresi. Video by Andrew Hatling.

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Ball, Bat & Bible Baseball and Sunday Observance in New York is Special Collections’ Featured Book for August 2015

baseball bookIn honor of a national pastime, Ball, Bat & Bible Baseball and Sunday Observance in New York, has been selected as the featured book for August 2015.  Written by Charles DeMotte, baseball historian, this book chronicles the social and moral controversy over New York State’s blue laws, which sought to restrict social activities on Sundays, the traditional day of religious observation.  During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries baseball was the center of this conflict.

From its inception, baseball, was part of the fabric of communities across the country and played an important social role.  The baseball and Sunday observance question involved the clash of religious organizations, civil and lobbying groups, and local and state politics.  The debate intensified as other movements, such as temperance and the crusades against boxing and gambling were beginning to gain momentum.  Deep class, racial, religious, and ethnic divisions in New York’s social order contributed to the issue as well.

Bat, Ball & Bible chronicles not only baseball during this period, but rather illuminates a “culture war” whose effects are still being felt today.  Reflecting a number of contemporary religious and cultural issues, the book has appeal far beyond baseball.

Ball, Bat & Bible Baseball and Sunday Observance in New York is part of the Local History Collection.  To see the book visit Special Collections, located on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library off of the North Reading Room.  Special Collections is open to the public 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday.

Call number:  GV863.N72 D46 2013. The Local History Collection

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‘Oldest’ Koran fragments found in Birmingham University

By Sean Coughlan   BBC.COM

What may be the world’s oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham.

Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

The pages of the Muslim holy text had remained unrecognised in the university library for almost a century.

The British Library’s expert on such manuscripts, Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, said this “exciting discovery” would make Muslims “rejoice”.

The manuscript had been kept with a collection of other Middle Eastern books and documents, without being identified as one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the world.

Oldest texts

When a PhD researcher, Alba Fedeli, looked more closely at these pages it was decided to carry out a radiocarbon dating test and the results were “startling”.

The university’s director of special collections, Susan Worrall, said researchers had not expected “in our wildest dreams” that it would be so old.

“Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting.”

Koran fragments

                        The fragments were written on sheep or goat skin                    

The tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Koran.

These tests provide a range of dates, showing that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645.

“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, the university’s professor of Christianity and Islam.

“According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

Koran at Birmingham University

                        The fragments of the Koran are still legible                    

Prof Thomas says the dating of the Birmingham folios would mean it was quite possible that the person who had written them would have been alive at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach. He may have known him personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with,” he says.

First-hand witness

Prof Thomas says that some of the passages of the Koran were written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels – and a final version, collected in book form, was completed in about 650.

David Thomas

                        Prof Thomas says the writer of this manuscript could have heard the Prophet Muhammad preach                    

He says that “the parts of the Koran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death”.

“These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Koran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed.”

Media caption Susan Worrall says the university wants to put this internationally significant discovery on public display

The manuscript, written in “Hijazi script”, an early form of written Arabic, becomes one of the oldest known fragments of the Koran.

Because radiocarbon dating creates a range of possible ages, there is a handful of other manuscripts in public and private collections which overlap. So this makes it impossible to say that any is definitively the oldest.

But the latest possible date of the Birmingham discovery – 645 – would put it among the very oldest.

‘Precious survivor’

Dr Waley, curator for such manuscripts at the British Library, said “these two folios, in a beautiful and surprisingly legible Hijazi hand, almost certainly date from the time of the first three caliphs”.

The first three caliphs were leaders in the Muslim community between about 632 and 656.

Dr Waley says that under the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, copies of the “definitive edition” were distributed.

Muhammad Afzal

                        Muhammad Afzal of Birmingham Central Mosque said he was very moved to see the manuscript                    

“The Muslim community was not wealthy enough to stockpile animal skins for decades, and to produce a complete Mushaf, or copy, of the Holy Koran required a great many of them.”

Dr Waley suggests that the manuscript found by Birmingham is a “precious survivor” of a copy from that era or could be even earlier.

“In any case, this – along with the sheer beauty of the content and the surprisingly clear Hijazi script – is news to rejoice Muslim hearts.”

The manuscript is part of the Mingana Collection of more than 3,000 Middle Eastern documents gathered in the 1920s by Alphonse Mingana, a Chaldean priest born near Mosul in modern-day Iraq.

He was sponsored to take collecting trips to the Middle East by Edward Cadbury, who was part of the chocolate-making dynasty.


The Koran

A copy of the Quran
  • Muslims believe the words of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel over 22 years from 610
  • It was not until 1734 that a translation was made into English, but was littered with mistakes
  • Copies of the holy text were issued to British Indian soldiers fighting in the First World War
  • On 6 October 1930, words from the Koran were broadcast on British radio for the first time, in a BBC programme called The Sphinx

Discover how the Koran became part of British life


The local Muslim community has already expressed its delight at the discovery in their city and the university says the manuscript will be put on public display.

“When I saw these pages I was very moved. There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes. And I’m sure people from all over the UK will come to Birmingham to have a glimpse of these pages,” said Muhammad Afzal, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque.

The university says the Koran fragments will go on display in the Barber Institute in Birmingham in October.

Prof Thomas says it will show people in Birmingham that they have a “treasure that is second to none”.


More stories from the BBC’s Knowledge economy series looking at education from a global perspective and how to get in touch.

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Free access to for NY State residents!


Your tax dollars at work!  Portions of pertaining to New York are free to NY state residents.  The New York State Archives partnered with Ancestry to digitize some NY state records of interest to genealogists.  The resulting databases are free if you live in New York State.

Once you enter your zip code, you’ll be asked to register for a free account

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The Serpent Charmer is the Special Collections Featured Book for July 2015


The Serpent Charmer:  a Tale of the Indian Mutiny is an English translation of the 1879 French edition:  Le Charmeur de Serpents.  Published by Charles Scribner & Sons, this book is the First American edition.  Its highly decorated binding is typical of the crowded ‘bulletin board” style of the late 1870s and early 1880s.  The book has a full red cloth binding with reflective black and gilt stamping and overlapping elements on the front cover and spine.  The titles are in gilt, black and red.  The front cover is illustrated with an elaborate wood cut print of Kali, the Hindu goddess of empowerment, and taken from one of the books sixty-three black and white prints.

Louis-Théophile Marie Rousselet 1845-1929) was a French writer, a photographer and pioneer of the darkroom, and traveller. He was in India from 1864 to 1870. He spent much time in central India (Alwar, Baroda, Bhopal, Gwalior, Udaipur) and Rajasthan). The Serpent Charmer is a fictional tale based on the Sepoy Rebellion [also known as the Indian Rebellion or the Indian Mutiny] of 1857.

In May of 1857, sepoys [Indian infantrymen] in the British East India Company’s army rose up against the British in response to rapid cultural changes being imposed upon Indians by the ruling British. The unrest spread to other army divisions and civilian towns across north and central India and, by the time it was over, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people had been killed.

The Indian Revolt of 1857 lasted until June of 1858. In August, the Government of India Act of 1858 dissolved the British East India Company. The British government took direct control of the half of India formerly under the company, with various princes still in nominal control of the other half. Queen Victoria became the Empress of India. The last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was blamed for the revolt (although he played little role in it). The British government sent him into exile in Rangoon, Burma.

Unfortunately, the Indian Revolt of 1857 did not result in freedom for India. In many ways, Britain reacted by taking firmer control of the “crown jewel” of its empire. It would be another ninety years before India gained their independence.

The Serpent Charmer: A Tale of Indian Mutiny can be found in Special Collections located on the second floor of the Bartle Library.

One of the sixty-three wood engravings in The Serpent Charmer

One of the sixty-three wood engravings in The Serpent Charmer


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President’s Quarterly Report Features Libraries’ Incoming Dean

Binghamton University is an interesting place in the weeks following Commencement. There is a striking transition from the bustle of the last weeks of the academic year to the more relaxed days of summer. With most students home for the summer, there are days when the Peace Quad seems quieter — and it’s definitely easier to find a parking space. But this stillness is deceptive, as our faculty and staff — and yes, our students, too — keep the campus humming.

This year, the spring quarter has been especially busy. We’ve successfully graduated another class, and are now in the process of welcoming next year’s students. Summer courses are underway, though most students opt to learn online. Faculty are busy with research, and the University is strengthening its role in regional economic development while taking the next steps on the Road Map to Premier.

I’m proud to note, as well, that Binghamton was recognized on the last day of this quarter with the prestigious national designation as an “Innovation & Economic Prosperity University” by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities. We are the only SUNY school, and in fact the only school in New York state, to receive this recognition for our strong commitment to economic engagement through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development. We continue to be a significant player in the economic development of Binghamton, the Southern Tier and New York state, and we are honored to earn this designation.

These are exciting times at Binghamton, and I am looking forward to additional progress in the months ahead.

Read more here

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Libraries and Special Collections Honored with Public Relations Award

The 2015 selection committee of the PR Xchange Awards Competition recently shared the announcement of our win in the category “Materials Promoting Collections” for the Miniature Books Exhibit and Reception.

The PR Xchange competition is sponsored by the Public Relations and Marketing Section (PRMS) of the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLMA).

The annual contest is designed to recognize “the very best public relations materials by produced by libraries” throughout the year.  Contest submissions were evaluated by experts in public relations, communications, graphic design and marketing and were judged on content, design and originality.

Our Power Point entry summarizes information about the collection and includes fun photography from the opening reception:  2015 PR Xchange Award Winner.   Our entry, along with the other winners, will be displayed at the PR Xchange program during this year’s American Library Association Conference, to be held June 25-30th in San Francisco.

Beth Kilmarx, Curator of Rare Books and one of the primary organizers of the Miniature Books Exhibit and Reception, will be in attendance at the conference and will accept the award on behalf of the Libraries. The Libraries is deeply grateful for the support and interest of the campus community and extends special thanks to friends and colleagues who enriched the miniature book experience for all through the generous loan of their own editions!

The award-winning Miniature Books Exhibit will remain on display through the end of July in the Libraries’ Special Collections,  located on the second floor of the Bartle Library.
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I, Toto is Featured Book for June 2015


During the expansion of the Ventura Freeway in Los Angeles, Willard Carroll unearthed a leatherbound scrapbook from a site that was once a pet cemetery. To his amazement, its yellowing pages contained the rags-to-riches story of Terry, the female brindle cairn terrier who played Toto in the enduring film The Wizard of Oz.  [Incidentally, Terry was paid a $125 salary each week during the filming of The Wizard of Oz, which was far more than many of the human actors.]


Terry’s official studio portrait.

When she died in 1945, Terry’s manager and animal trainer, Carl Spitz, buried her on his ranch in Studio City, CA. However, the construction of the Ventura Freeway in 1958 destroyed her grave [which led to Carroll's discovery]. On June 18, 2011 a permanent memorial for Terry was dedicated at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

I, Toto traces the canine star’s tragic beginnings, her exhilarating film career [she appeared in 13 different films!], and her happy retirement in Southern California with Carl Spitz. This book offers the inside scoop on Toto’s signature role, her costars [including Shirley Temple, Spencer Tracy and Joan Crawford], and the making of The Wizard of Oz. Toto’s lovingly illustrated scrapbook features 150 photographs collected over the dog’s life.

Willard Carroll is an Emmy Award–winning producer, writer, and director. He has written and directed the feature films The RunestoneTom’s Midnight GardenPlaying by Heart, and Marigold. He has amassed the world’s largest collection of Wizard of Oz memorabilia, documented in 100 Years of Oz: A Century of Classic Images from The Wizard of Oz Collection of Willard Carroll. Together with Tom Wilhite, he founded the National Oz Museum.

I, Toto is part of the Allan Rogg Collection and is located in Special Collections on the second floor of the Bartle Library. Please come visit us and learn more about this star canine!


Terry working with Shirley Temple in the film “Bright Eyes.”


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June 9 is International Archives Day!

Did you know that the 9th of June is the International Archives Day? You maybe had the opportunity to celebrate it your country, through activities and events organized by National or local archives institutions, or professional associations, like in Senegal, Japan, or municipalities in Catalonia…

All around the world, professionals unite their voices on the 9th of June to make you understand why it is important to support archives and the profession. An excellent opportunity to discover or better know our profession, and to get in closer touch with a fascinating domain!


At the international Congress in Vienna in 2004, the 2000 participants adopted a resolution requesting the United Nations to create an International Archives Day. Some countries had already decided to have a national archives day, to raise awareness of the general public and the decision-makers about the importance of archives.

The UNESCO General Conference at its 33rd session in Paris 2005 proclaimed the 27th October as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. The World Day is an appropriate opportunity to raise public awareness of the importance of audiovisual archives. It brings new incentives to the benefit of the preservation of these archives. This was an excellent initiative, but these are not the only archives that are at risk and in need of attention.

This is the reason why the ICA decided at its Annual General Meeting in November 2007  to launch the International Archives Day by its own, on the 9th of June. The date was obvious: on the 9th of June 1948, the International Council on Archives was created under the auspices of the UNESCO. This choice was adopted by ICA Executive Board, and adopted by the archives community as a whole.

Why an International Archives Day?

One might think that we have got a full calendar of international days to celebrate. However the public’s image of the archives is foggy: often confused with libraries, archives continue to be perceived as documents for internal use only, which are difficult to access and are of interest only to historians. The perception of records and archives by the public and the organizations that create them is not clear. This troubled image has an impact on the financial and human resources that responsible managers and administrators dedicate to records and archives operations and/or institutions.

It is therefore essential to remember that records and archives are documents, created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations, or in the transaction of business. Archival records are those documents that are preserved by their creators, successors or an appropriate archive institution because of their legal value or enduring historical significance. Archives constitute a major cultural heritage and information resource. The archival heritage is a valuable testimony about the economical, political and social development of humanity. The diversity of archival sources and formats is considerable. To ensure the preservation of these sources, a comprehensive approach that considers all types and formats of archives, is required. It is not possible to focus solely on one type of record, as other categories of archives also deserve attention.

Visit the International Council on Archives site to learn more

Learn more about International Archives Day 

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Turkish election outcome is blow to Erdoğan and breakthrough for Kurds

Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, smiles after his party’s breakthrough in Sunday’s elections. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, smiles after his party’s breakthrough in Sunday’s elections. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

The mould-breaking outcome of Turkey’s general election on Sunday will be viewed as a personal rebuff for the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and as a historic political breakthrough for the country’s 18 million-strong Kurdish minority, which will be represented by a political party in parliament for the first time.

With 88% of votes counted, the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which Erdoğan helped to found, appeared to have lost its overall majority, falling just short of the 276 seats required for control of the 550-seat national assembly. Its share of the vote, at around 43%, was well down on the 49% it obtained in 2011.

The AKP had aimed for a total of at least 330 seats, which would have enabled the government to hold a referendum on the constitutional changes that Erdoğan needs in order to create an executive presidency. Erdoğan personally travelled the country trying to boost the AKP vote.

But concerns about a slowing economy, jobs, civil rights and a lack of progress in the Kurdish peace process appear to have combined with worries that Erdoğan could assume quasi-dictatorial powers to thwart the president’s ambitions.

Erdoğan, a three-time prime minister who has wielded power since 2002, now faces the prospect of continuing in the largely ceremonial post of president, to which he was elected last year, while real executive power is in the hands of his protege Ahmet Davutoğlu, the current prime minister.

Parliamentary democracy in Turkey was also a big winner as the pro-Kurdish, secular centre-left grouping, the People’s Democratic party (HDP), appeared to slip past the mandatory 10% threshold for representation with about 11% of the vote. Projections suggested that total would translate into about 74 seats.

This result gives Turkey’s Kurds and the other voters who deserted the AKP and flocked to the HDP banner an unprecedented national platform from which to counter the neo-Islamist AKP’s assault on Turkey’s secular tradition, which has gathered pace in recent years.

The peace process that followed the 2013 ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) may now also receive a much-needed shot in the arm, after a recent period of stalemate and sporadic violence.

Read more here

To learn more about Kurdish culture and History visit the Vera Beaudin Saeedpour Kurdish Library and Museum Collection located in Special Collections on the second floor of the Bartle Library.

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