Author Archives: Mary

Confidential Print Online


Defenses of Tobruk, 1940, from Confidential Print: Africa

The Library has recently acquired online versions of the Confidential Print series, a collection of British government documents.  Beginning in the late 1820's, the British government began printing copies of important correspondence from diplomatic and consular officials (including letters, telegrams, policy documents, and reports) which were then circulated to Foreign Office and Cabinet officials, and to British missions overseas to keep these officials informed about the important issues.  These series were printed up to about the 1970's, when, according to the British National Archives, the photocopy machine arrived.  The original documents are in the British National Archives, but the Confidential Print, to quote from a review of the North American Series are "a selection from what was often a vast swathe of material …It is not the full, unabridged story [but] there is no doubt that an early trawl of the relevant Confidential Print series is a must for anyone setting out to investigate British or Colonial policy."

The online series are North America: Canada, the Caribbean, and the USA (1824-1961); Middle East (1839-1969); Latin America (1833-1969); and Africa (1834-1966).  The series for Europe and for Asia have not been digitized, and, according to the publisher, there are no current plans to do so.  Selected documents from the European and Asian Confidential Prints issued by the Foreign Office have been reprinted (these are more voluminous than the Confidential Print issued by the Colonial Office), and Columbia has these volumes listed in CLIO under the title British documents on foreign affairs–reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print.  There are several series, and they have slightly different call numbers.  The European volumes are especially useful for material relating to the two world wars, since the printed compilations British documents on the origins of the War, dealing with World War I, and Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939 (both available online as Documents on British Policy Overseas) don't have material on wartime activities.

The Confidential Print include much more than diplomatic chit-chat, and looking through some of the documents gives the impression that every British official was sending detailed notes on local conditions, so these documents are a phenomenal resource for economic, social, agricultural, and geographic information.  To take a page at random, this is from The West Africa Correspondence (1889-1901) dealing with Botanical and Forestry Matters

Page 66
Rubber collectors have now to go 15 or 16 days off Ibadan for rubber, beyond the
Protectorate of this Colony. The countries where active rubber working is going on
are the Benin and Akoko forests. Unfortunately we could not proceed to these parts,
which we were made to understand are without the Protectorate of the Colony.
Consequently we did not go further than Owo (a place only three days off Benin), which
we understood is the limit of our Protectorate on that side.
During Our travels through all the above-named towns, we did not only pay attention
to the rubber industry, for which we were sent up, but also spared a little of our
time for noting down and gathering interesting information on things in general, which
we have no doubt will be of some use or benefit to this Department.
As one leaves Lagos, and travelling on the lagoon en route for Epe, Ejinrin, or
Ikorodu, a different and more interesting scenery is at once noticed than what is
generally seen by the inhabitants of Lagos. This is a large and continuous expanse of
virgin forests on the banks of the lagoon, stretching from Ikorodu (2 hours' steam
from Lagos), and continuous up to Benin.
Taking it from Ikorodu, the forest extends inland to Ibadan (three days' journey
off Ikorodu), and joined by the expanse of forests from Epe and Ejinrin, which in parts
are cultivated. Branching off at Jebu Ode and proceeding Ikire way, via Atikori,
there is another larger and more extensive forest to be seen, and continuous with lie
Ife, Ondo, and Ilesa forests which in turn run in with the other Ekiti countries, thus
forming one large extensive range of forest from Atikori right on to Owo, and which,
adjoining the Ikale, Sekiri, and Ijo forests, thus spread on to the lagoon.
The range of forests along the banks of the lagoon, and to a limited extent inland,
is peculiarly grown with Mangrove trees (Id Egba), which are valuable as timber
trees (the wood of which is very hard), and the bark of which is very astringent, and
is valuable for its tanning properties.
Inland the forests, especially Jebu and Ekiti forests, abound in large quantity of
valuable timber trees, which are used by the natives for various purposes, and also
(being ignorant of its value) for firewood.
The various timber trees found in Jebu, Ekiti, and Ibadan forests are numerous.
The following are trees observed, and also the purposes for which they are used: —
Iriko, Afara, Opepe, Otutu, Agono, Apa, Oro, Ayon, Em, Ara, or Opepe, Agbonyin,
Apara, Oro, Bonobono, Ayon, Arere, Idi, Sedun, Ira, Orowo, Akika, or Aka,
Irosun. The Ekitis as a rule have different names from those given by the Yorubas;
as such, it was difficult to get the correct names of the different trees. The general
uses of the above-named trees vary more or less among the different tribes, but we
will simply classify them all according to the general use in the interior.
TABLE of the different uses to which the above-named Trees are put by the Interior People
Trees used for Canoes.
1. Iroko.
2. Arere.
3. Idi.
4. Apa.
5. Ara.
6. Agono.
7. Olutu.
8. Opepe.
Trees used for Doors.
Trees used for House Posts.
Trees need for Motars.'
Trees used for Motar Pencils
Trees used for
Native Bowk.
Trees used for Drums, &c.

We do not deem it necessary to include in the list such trees as are used for
carving idols, warri-bowls, native spoons, &c, because they are more or less very soft,
and, in consequence, cannot stand hard usage.
As our mission and instructions were chiefly in the interest of the rubber industry,
we could not spare time to collect specimens of wood, flowers, leaves, &c, of these
trees, which are very large and high. Consequently we were obliged to return to the
Colony without bringing these specimens.
Page 67
As the general work of interior women and girls is the weaving and dyeing
of cloths, &c, this report will be an incomplete one without the mention of the indigo
plant. There are two kinds of indigo used by the natives for colouring their cloths, &c,
jet black, deep or light blue. The native names under which these two distinct plants
are known are Elu (Lonchocarpus cyanescens) and Sense (Indifofera sp.). A
report on an experiment tried in the former plant (Elu) will be seen in the 29th Report
of the Botanic Station.
Elu is a shrubby tree, the young leaves of which are generally used for extracting
the dye.
This operation is simple. The young leaves are pounded, balled, and then left to
ferment, after which it is well dried, when it can be stored and used whenever required
without any danger of its getting spoilt. When required for dyeing these balls are
steeped in an acid water, and as soon as the water becomes coloured the cloths are then
dipped in and dyed.
This dye is very strong, and we have no doubt that if it can be prepared in a
better way, so as to get out of the leaves the pure dye without any other impurities, a
good and lucrative trade will be started in this direction.
The Sense dye plant is much used by the Ilorins, Tapas, and Hausas.
It takes much longer time to extract the dye matter out of the leaves than Elu
does. The same process is adopted as in the case with Elu.
This plant is a dwarf shrub, of about three species, found plentifullv in the
interior, where it grows wild; but we have no doubt that in course of time, when the
value of such plant is known by all, more attention will be paid to its cultivation,
and not be allowed to waste.
Fibre Plants.
Several fibre plants were seen, both cultivated and wild up country. The commonest
met with are Bolobolo (Urena lobata), Boko, Pineapple, species of Corchorus,
Bowstring Hemp (Sanseviera guineensis).
Of these, Boko, Bolobolo (a white-skinned variety of it) are cultivated in Yorubaland
for their fibrous barks, which are used for tying purposes. Pineapple is also
cultivated all over the Protectorate nearly, though not for its fibre, but more for its
delicious fruit.
Bolobolo, especially the red-skinned variety, is wild and plentiful everywhere is all
waste places, and it would be a grand thing if this valuable fibre plant is taken up and
Already sample of its fibre has been sent by this Government to England in 1886,
where it was reported on to be superior to jute in quality and strength, and would
always command a higher price and a readier market, if it could be shipped regularly
and in good quantity. Ever since that year the matter has dropped entirely, from want
of energy and enterprise to develop the industry.
The Boko plant is found only under cultivation, but there seems to be a brighter
future for it, even than that of Bolobolo, for it is considered by the natives generally to
be much superior in quality and strength than Bolobolo fibre.
The bark of it, as well as that of Bolobolo, is woven into all sorts of ropes by the
The Bowstring Hemp, called Oja Ikoko by interior countries, is found wild more
or less all over the interior countries, especially in forest lands near swamps. The
fibre of this is much more valuable commercially than those of either of the two former,
being worth £40 to £60 a ton if well prepared and cleaned. The natives also extract
its fibres and make it into strings, which they use for leather work. This fibre plant
ought to have a grand future.
The species of Corchorus, though found wild here and there, are not known as
fibre-yielding plants by the natives; consequently thev are not cultivated or put to
any use.
Gum Trees.
On the 25th of June, when we were on our return journey, we received a letter
from the Acting Resident, instructing us to make strict enquiry about the different
gum trees found in the interior forests.

UWP sources

Here are some new, and not so new, encyclopedias that might be useful for students in UWP classes if they are having trouble coming up with a topic or need a brief discussion of a concept.  Often the bibliographies can help locate some useful titles for very general subjects, as well.

General Encyclopedias

Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Butler Reference Desk R031 En2 and online via the Gale Virtual Reference Library
Besides general philosophical concepts, this is useful for the plagarism/influenct topics, especially the article on "Responsibility"; it is also helpful for animal rights, and the idea of nature.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Butler Reference Desk R031 R76 and online
Ditto for the above topics, but I have found that often the Routledge articles are a bit denser.

International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Butler Reference R033 In818 and online
Good, general entries, including one on "Nature, concepts of"

Specific Subjects

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics
Butler Reference R037.01 En19
Also available in Oxford Art Online (though there are no page numbers, so it is harder to cite than the print)
There is a very useful article on the aesthetics of photography, and also one on nature, the "Moral Rights of Art", as well as one on originality, very useful for "The Extacy of Influence".

Encyclopedia of Ethics
Butler Reference R031.17 En191
Has entries on "Plagiarism", "Copyright", and also on ethical issues relating to animals.

Encyclopedia of Bioethics
Butler Reference R031.7 En18
More animal rights, as well as ethics and nature.

Mythical and Fabulous Creatures
Butler Reference R398.4 M44
A collection of monsters.

Tobacco in History and Culture: An Encyclopedia
Butler Reference R033.941 T55
A tour of Cancerland.

Science, Religion, and Society: An Encyclopedia
Butler Reference R035 Sc27

Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics
Butler Reference R036 En2

Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy
Butler Reference R036 En1928

Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience
Butler Reference HQ1973.E544 2009
In case suicide is revived.

A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory
Butler Reference HM621.D53 2010
A convenient collection of modern ideas.



Columbia has recently acquired the online version of Germanistik

This index lists books, essays, and articles published from 1960 to the present on German language and literature, including theater, media, and cultural history.  The entries for the first ten years have fairly basic search terms ("Shakespeare and English drama in German popular journals, 171701759, for example is only listed under the author and Shakespeare), but beginning in 1979, more detailed keywords (in German only) are provided.  This is much more complete for German material than the MLA, though of course, the MLA has older material.

The instructions are available in both English and German, and the searching is fairly straight forward, though there isn’t a lot of information provided about the search terms; "Type of publication" is one option, but there doesn’t seem to be a list of the types the reader can search.  The only one I have found that works is "Buch" (there is nothing for "Artikel", and no articles I found had a type listed), and that only works for recent publications–the oldest book I found about Goethe searching for "Buch" was published in 1996.  So it seems that the best way to search is the simplist–author (called Name), and title.  Keyword only searches what we would recognize as subject headings.

Unfortunately, the source doesn’t have elinks, so the reader will have to look the journal up in CLIO.  These journals are often abbreviated, but putting the cursor over the abbreviated title will show the complete title and citation. 

Citing Kindle

We recently received a question on ref-ref about citing works read on a Kindle, and found several sources which might help.

The 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style

has this:

14.166Books downloaded from a library or bookseller

The majority of electronically published books offered for download from a library or bookseller will have a printed counterpart. Because of the potential for differences, however, authors must indicate that they have consulted a format other than print. This indication should be the last part of a full citation that follows the recommendations for citing printed books as detailed throughout this section. See also 14.4–13.


Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2007. Kindle edition….

Note that electronic formats do not always carry stable page numbers (e.g., pagination may depend on text size), a factor that potentially limits their suitability as sources. In lieu of a page number, include an indication of chapter or section or other locator. See also 14.17.


1. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Penguin Classics, 2008), Microsoft Reader e-book, chap. 23.
The style manual also has a  Q&A section, which includes this: 

Q. Are there any conventions yet for citing a text on Kindle? That is, because the type size is variable, there are no page numbers in a Kindle edition; instead, there is a running locator at the bottom of each screen. I’m wondering whether it would be permissible to cite these location numbers rather than look up my quotes in a hard copy of the text.

A. Yes, you can cite the location numbers, although unless a reader has the Kindle edition of that work, the numbers will be of little use for finding the text. Like unpaged online content, Kindle editions are best cited with reference to chapter titles or numbers, subheadings, or a unique phrase that can be located by searching.


The APA style blog has a discussion of this too.  Here is the original entry.

How Do I Cite a Kindle?

Chelsea blogby Chelsea Lee

E-book readers, like the popular Kindle from, are revolutionizing the way we interact with the printed page. Although most e-book content has leaned toward the nonscholarly, major textbook manufacturers are now partnering with Amazon to produce e-textbooks, with a pilot program to be run at six universities in Fall 2009. They have recently debuted the Kindle DX ($489 retail), which in comparison to the original Kindle boasts a bigger screen (9.7” vs. 6” diagonally) and native support for PDFs, both key to good textbook reproduction.

For the students and scholars who use Kindles (or other e-book readers) when writing papers, the next question becomes, how do I cite material I read on a Kindle?

For the reference list entry, you’ll need to include the type of e-book version you read (two examples are the Kindle DX version and the Adobe Digital Editions version). In lieu of publisher information, include the book’s DOI or where you downloaded the e-book from (if there is no DOI). For example:

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success [Kindle DX version]. 
 Retrieved from 

Brill, P. (2004). The winner’s way [Adobe Digital Editions version]. 

Consult Chapter 7 of the 6th ed. of the Publication Manual (examples 19, 20, and 21) for some more help. If the full URL is very long (the one for Gladwell’s book was), you may give instead the homepage URL with a description of where to go from there, or the store name—your preference (e.g., Amazon Kindle store or

In the text, however, citation can get confusing because e-books often lack page numbers (though PDF versions may have them). Kindle books have “location numbers,” which are static, but those are useless to anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle too. To cite in text, either (a) paraphrase, thus avoiding the problem (e.g., "Gladwell, 2008"), or (b) utilize APA’s guidelines for direct quotations of online material without pagination (see Section 6.05 of the manual). Name the major sections (chapter, section, and paragraph number; abbreviate if titles are long), like you would do if you were citing the Bible or Shakespeare.

Gladwell’s book has numbered chapters, and he’s numbered the sections in the chapters. An example direct quotation might be this: 

One of the author’s main points is that “people don’t rise from nothing” 
(Gladwell, 2008, Chapter 1, Section 2, para. 5).

The comments also have some useful points.


This may be soon be easier, because, according to Amazon,  there will soon be a free update for Kindle which will have

•    Real Page Numbers – Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class.  Rather than add page numbers that don’t correspond to print books, which is how page numbers have been added to e-books in the past, we’re adding real page numbers that correspond directly to a book’s print edition. We’ve already added real page numbers to tens of thousands of Kindle books, including the top 100 bestselling books in the Kindle Store that have matching print editions and thousands more of the most popular books.  Page numbers will also be available on our free “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” Kindle apps in the coming months. As with all of Kindle’s features, we want you to lose yourself in the author’s words, so Page Numbers are only displayed when you press the Menu button.


Presidential Libraries

Separate presidential libraries are a generally a 20th century phenomenon–previously presidential papers were usually kept by the National Archives or in historical societies.  The privately funded museum/library/shrine of modern presidents has many advantages, and some drawbacks.  The advantages are that there is a focused, dedicated staff collecting and arranging material, and the drawbacks are that each library has its own way of listing material, so that there is no consistency.  However, these libraries contain a great deal of information about the period, not just about the president.   Many of the libraries collect oral histories of people associated with the president, and many have copies of archival documents, which can be easier to plow through than the site.   All of the libraries are listed at

though of course Google will find them as well.

It is a good idea to look for a Research button on the home page–many of the libraries stress material for high school students.   But perhaps someone would really like

hooverhatHoover Wore Many Hats, an interactive game for children of all ages. Play the game!

Military History Institute

The website of the Military History Institute at Carlisle PA (official name: U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center)

is a gold mine of useful information, both bibliographic and full text, for an area in which Columbia traditionally hasn’t been strong.   There are two basic catalogs listed on this link, the Research Catalog, which is basically their card catalog, and the Resource Guides Finding Aids, which is a treasure trove, though it can be hard to navigate.

This is their gateway.

Resource Guides/Finding Aids

Groups of  subject bibliographies are listed in folders, alphabetically by subject, so that for instance, the Women folder has bibliographies on various topics as esoteric as “Woman Disguised as Male Soldiers”, (mainly American ones, but there are references to world history) or a three-page bibliography on “Laundresses”, with the irresistible reference

Wettemann, Robert P., Jr. “The Girl I Left Behind Me?  United States Army Laundresses and the Mexican War.”  Army History (Fall 1998/Winter 1999):  pp. 1-10. 

To print these, click on the upper right icon for “Show document”.

Not everything is as specialized; there is a useful and focused bibliography on “Battle Art”, under the “Art” folder, which can be helpful for the inevitable UWP topic of war and art.  (There is also a short bibliography on “aircraft nose art”, which sounds like a paper waiting to happen.)

These bibliographies are useful for less stridently military questions as well; there is one on civil-military relations, which was useful to a student writing about the influence of the DOD, as opposed to the Department of State, in post-WWII foreign policy, and references to fraternization were helpful answering a question on women in post WWII Germany.  Nor are these all focused on the US–there are some bibliographies on classical and European warfare.

Individual bibliographies (presumably ones which didn’t fit under the subjects) are listed beneath the folders, including the intriguing “Lessons Learned” and “Ghosts”.  There is also another UWP perenial, “Films”,  with some useful references to works on war films.

One recent problem (they have just rejiggered the site) is that sometimes you get caught up in a loop, and either a blank screen comes up, or the last search.   I have found that using the “sign out” link on the left hand side (if it is displaying) helps, but if not, starting over again works.

The bibliographies are probably the most useful item, but the digitized documents and photographs are also fun to look through; the photographs, especially are quite rich and varied from the 1912 German Olympics olympicsto an Indian Chief.


British National Archives, plus Manuscripts

The National Archives, English version, is the newish name for the Public Record Office.   The archives has a very good search engine here:

The search link (simple and advanced) is on the upper right hand side.

If the material either hasn’t been microfilmed or if no one in the U.S. has the film, it is easy to obtain the material digitally–though it does cost.  ILL will pay up to $50 to get items, and this is much faster and much more efficient than ordering it through CRL.

There are links to some general subject guides here

for brief introductions to broad fields like “19th century”.  For more detailed subjects, check here

My favorite subject so far is “Lunacy and the State”, where we learn that “For most of the past, the state has had little interest in the mental health of its subjects, unless they had a sufficient amount of property to require the intervention of the Crown as a feudal lord. Pauper lunatics were dealt with locally”, followed by many references to official papers–some of the guides also list useful book titles.

The catalog searches much more than just the official documents in the National Archives–it is a very useful place to find any manuscripts relating to Great Britain.  I recently had a question about Bram Stoker’s manuscripts and the National Archives search was the most accurate, better than his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, or Archive Finder–the National Archives search found both U.S. and British locations, as well as the reference to the book Location register of twentiethcentury English literary manuscripts and letters.