Category Archives: Databases

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.

RESOURCE: medieval art in CORSAIR, the Morgan Library’s catalog

Scholars looking for medieval illuminations to illustrate their arguments need look no further than the Morgan Library.  The Morgan has digitized and cataloged every image in its vast holdings of medieval manuscripts.  While an image search can be made in CORSAIR, the general catalog of manuscripts and printed books, there is a specific area of the site for searching solely the medieval and Renaissance images in the collection.

Find images in a number of ways:

  • by manuscript number (e.g. MS M.25, selected from a drop-down menu)
  • search by subject term (e.g. archer)
  • browse by category of manuscript (e.g. psalter), by country of origin,  and by century (also, both, selected from a drop-down menu)

Browsing by manuscript is also possible.

Results of searches display in a vertical list or as a "lightbox" grid, five panel across. The cataloging metadata for each image is extensive, and there are often multiple views of a given illumination. 

For example, the page below, a single folio from a twelfth-century English psalter (MS M.724):

also offers four additional detailed images of the upper half of the page and of selected panels, such as this closer look at the third panel in the top row, or "zone":

with extensive accompanying description:

3a) Moses: Burning Bush, and Moses, Miracle of Rod changed to Serpent — Beside burning bush, serpent crawls toward Moses as Shepherd, with head draped, stands with leprous right hand raised, beside five sheep on hill.

3b) Moses: Miracle of Rods, and Aaron: Miracle of Rods — Pharaoh, crowned, seated on cushioned bench, extends right hand toward Moses, with rod in left hand, and Aaron; three serpents on ground at their feet; behind Aaron, two men, possibly magicians.

Scenes in frames decorated with abstract ornament.

Clicking through to the CORSAIR record for this image, one can see the highly granular subject analysis applied to the image:

Psalters –England –Canterbury –Illustrations. 1155-1160.

Pharaoh –commanding Shiphrah and Puah.

Crown –worn by Pharaoh.

Arms and Armor –Sword.

Furniture –Bench.

Jochebed 2. Scene.

Moses –Birth.

Moses –in Bulrushes.

 Furniture –Bed.

Moses –brought to Daughter of Pharaoh.

Moses –Child at Court of Pharaoh.

Crown –worn by Moses as Child.

Furniture –Throne.

Moses –Burning Bush.

Moses –Miracle of Rod changed to Serpent.

Moses –Leprous Hand.

Moses –as Shepherd.

Moses –Miracle of Rods.

Aaron –Miracle of Rods.

Figure, Male –Magician.


For further information on searching CORSAIR, or finding medieval images, please feel free to contact Karen Green, the librarian for Ancient & Medieval History.

New Database: History of Modern Russian and Ukrainian Art, 1907-1930

The History of Modern Russian and Ukrainian Art, 1907-1930 documents the history of modern Russian and Ukrainian art. It encompasses critical literature, illustrated books, and art periodicals.

The collection contains texts by such artists as Wassily Kandinsky, Pavel Filonov, Kazimir Malevich and Anatolii Petrytskyi; publications of art groups such as the Jack of Diamonds (Bubnovyi valet) and Màkovets; theoretical tracts by Nikolai Tarabukin and Boris Kushner; and books by well-known critics such as IAkov Tugendkhol'd, Erikh Gollerbakh, and Nikolai Punin. The collection also offers a selection of early 20th century art-related serials. These historical sources of pre- and post-revolutionary art reflect the diversity of artistic thought in the first thirty years of the 20th century, the intense discussions about the nature of the new art, its form, and its aims.

The collection consists of 215 titles that were published in two parts on microfiche.

New Database: African American Periodicals, 1825-1995

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 is full text journal collection based upon James P. Danky's AfricanAmerican Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography (Harvard, 1998). Drawn from holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society, African American Periodicals ranges over more than 150 years of American life, from slavery during the Antebellum Period to the struggles and triumphs of the modern era.

The database features more than 170 titles, including African Repository (1825-92), Southern Workman (1881-1900), Colored Harvest (1888-1922), Colored American Magazine (1900-1909, Horizon (1907-10), Crisis (1910-20), Black Worker (1929-1968), Liberator (1929-1932), Negro Actors Guild Newsletter (1940-78), Freedom (1951-55), Beauty Trade (1954-1978), Black Panther (1967-1975), Soul (1966-76), Echo (1968-84), Neighbors (1970-79), National Leader (1982-85).


Use the browse feature to page through issues by name and date, or use the search feature to search across the entire contents.  If you are doing full text searches,  use proximity operators to search for terms that are near each other: montgomery NEAR15 bus finds articles where the word Montgomery and bus appear within 15 words of one another (in either direction).  To find words in direct order use ADJ: brotherhood ADJ5 porter* finds articles where the word brotherhood is followed by the words porter or porters.  Consult the database help for more search tips.

Consult our African-American Studies Research Guide to learn more about this and other library resources in African-American Studies.

If you have a questions about this database, or any other research question, please visit, call, email or text us.

New Database: Victorian Popular Culture

Victorian Popular Culture: Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments & the Advent of Cinema

This section of Victorian Popular Culture explores the pivotal era in entertainment history when previously static images came to life and moved for the first time. It features printed ephemera, programmes, sheet music, cigarette cards, postcards, games, toys and other merchandise from the pre – and early-cinematic years. It also features – for the first time – a virtual exhibition entitled "Optical Delights" which showcases a selection of the most interesting optical entertainment artifacts and even some video clips of the devices in action!

If you have any questions about this database, or any other research question, please visit, call, email or text us.

Fashion Research

A few resources for researching fashion and the fashion industry:

Berg Fashion Library
, includes the Encyclopedia of World  Dress and Fashion (Oxford, 2010) and many other books about fashion.

Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Scribner's 2005).

Vogue Archive
-issues from 1892 to the present

WWD (Women's Wear Daily) – current paper issues are in the  Business Library, full-text (no images) is available from numerous sources, the microfilm backfile is in Business

A few other ejournals, including Fashion Theory

Databases: The Ebscohost Research Databases, provide an excellent multidisciplinary search.

Check CLIO for books.  Most books about designers are in Avery Library; general works about clothing and dress will be in Butler, Barnard, or Business.   Try WorldCat to search beyond Columbia's collections.   If material is not available at Columbia, try Borrow Direct or ILL.  If you need to use the FIT library, come to the Butler Reference Desk.

If you have any questions about researching fashion, please Ask a Librarian.

Recent Acquisitions in Streaming Video Databases

Check out some of our recent database acquisitions in streaming video:

World History in Video: English-language documentaries
World history in video is an online collection of streaming video that gives users access to documentaries from filmmakers worldwide, covering Africa and the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania.

March of Time
From 1935-1967, American theatergoers and television watchers were witness to Time Inc.'s unique and controversial film series, The March of Time.

It offers high-quality videos of full-length performances by some of today's most provocative artists working in dance, theater, music and other forms that defy categorization.

Here is the full list of the Libraries' streaming video databases.

CLIObeta: A New Way to Search

The Columbia Libraries are developing a new interface for CLIO which allows researchers to combine elements from the library catalog in powerful new ways.  

CLIObeta offers the ability to refine a keyword search by format; publication date; topical, regional, historical, and genre headings; language; library location; call number; and acquisition date. It is also possible to search multiple data sources with a single query, including:

  • 7.7 million records in the library catalog,
  • 400 million records in Summon (Find Articles)
  • 6,000 records in Academic Commons
  • 4,000 records in the Archival Collections portal
  • 1200 database records
  • 6,000 recently acquired titles
  • 4,000 library web pages

Please take the time to give us your feedback.  CLIObeta is being developed locally using open source software.  Your comments, questions, and suggestions will help us improve the database.   A brief introduction to CLIObeta:

It’s (Streaming) Music to Your Ears

Like to listen to music on the go?

Explore the Libraries' streaming audio databases.

The Libraries offer several databases which feature streaming audio, in a wide variety of musical styles. One easy way to find these is the click on the "E-Resources" tab from the main Library Web page, and then select "E-Music". You can also search under the "Databases" search tab on Library Web, by the title of any individual database listed below.

You can listen to streaming content from these databases from any computer with audio in the Libraries or on-campus, or from off-campus (via UNI login).

Here's a list of the current databases offering music as streaming audio (including the URL you should use if you want to bookmark the resource, to be recognized as a Columbia subscriber, using your UNI to connect from off-campus):

American song  


Classical music library  


Contemporary world music  


Database of recorded American music (DRAM)  


Music online. Jazz music library  


Naxos music library  


Naxos music library. Jazz.  


Smithsonian global sound for libraries  



You may notice, as you browse, that many of the above titles are from Alexander Street Press. They offer a cross-search function, which searches across their audio databases (but also includes their other content, such as music scores and text). It's available at:


Music Online  



Note that many of these databases offer a choice of bitrates for listening – choose the highest, whenever possible, for better audio quality! You'll often see this option in the pop-up player window which launches when you play a track. It's not always set to the highest setting.


You'll also find results in CLIO, for content in Naxos Music Library and Classical Music Library (including the jazz collections). This is convenient because you can search for music in CLIO and see both sound recordings available in the Libraries, and streaming audio content available. You can launch playback directly from within the CLIO record. Note, however, that the records for this content are loaded in periodically to CLIO, not continuously, so the most up-to-date search for the content of any particular database is through that database's search function.


Get to know the streaming audio databases, and let us know what you think! Comments, questions, problems can be sent to

Note: the listening device pictured above is for illustrational purposes only. Professional listener in a controlled space. The Libraries do not recommend the use of such a device for home and/or unsupervised use.

UWriting Students: More Research Tips

As you begin working on your research proposals, use these multi-subject databases to find articles from scholarly journals, newspapers, and magazines:


EbscoHost Research Databases


LexisNexis Academic

Remember to use the truncation symbol (*) and nested searching to improve your results.
Example: (smoking OR tobacco OR nicotine) AND (ethic* OR moral*)

If you need help with your research, please contact me or stop by the Reference Desk in 301 Butler.

Anice Mills
Undergraduate Services Librarian