Monthly Archives: April 2012

UN CountryStats App

The United Nations has just released a new mobile app for data.

UN CountryStats is a data visualization tool to compare key economic, social, environmental, trade, and area & population indicators for 216 countries and territories. Indicators, drawn from the United Nations' unique and authoritative data set, can be viewed as complete country tables or visualized as bar graphs. Other useful tools include detailed definitions of each indicator and the ability to save graphs as favorites.

Available now, for the iPhone and iPad. Also take a look at the other UN apps available, like the UN News Reader and Basic Facts About the United Nations.

World Development Indicators 2012

World Development Indicators 2012 is now available online. The 16th edition of World Development Indicators publication and database update contains updated data through 2010 and 2011 for many indicators. This update contains:

  • more recent data on poverty at international poverty lines for more countries, including global and regional estimates
  • measures of malnutrition disaggregated by sex
  • health indicators disaggregated by income quintile
  • data on carbon dioxide emissions by economic sector
  • data on climate variability, exposure to impact, and resilience

You can access the full range of World Bank data and publications with the Libraries' subscription to the World Bank eLibrary. And don't forget about the World Bank apps for iPhone and iPad!

April 17, 2012 — Tax Day

Today, April 17, is the deadline for submitting your 2011 income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. There is lots of information about the process, including links to tax forms and tips for foreign students, on the CUL subject guide, Income Tax Forms and Resources.

By law, U.S. income tax returns are confidential; however, most presidential and vice-presidential candidates have voluntarily (sometimes reluctantly) disclosed their tax returns to the public. The Tax History Project has compiled an archive of these for your reading pleasure.

100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster

On April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic, flagship of the White Star Line, struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. Two hours and twenty minutes later she broke in two and sank, taking with her over 1500 lives. Both the American and the British government launched inquiries into the accident. In the U.S. the Titanic hearings began on April 19, 1912, at he Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. In total, 82 witnesses testified, published in 1163 pages titled “Titanic” Disaster: Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate, Sixty-Second Congress, Second Session, Pursuant to S. Res. 283, Directing the Committee on Commerce to Investigate the Causes Leading to the Wreck of the White Star Liner “Titanic.” (Note to James Cameron: They preferred longer titles back then)

The relevant documents:

Senate Document 62 726

Senate Document 62 933

Senate Report 62 806

From the testimony of Olaus Abelseth, 26, a Norwegian homesteader living in South Dakota:

"I was standing there, and I asked my brother-in-law if he could swim and he said no. I asked my cousin if he could swim and he said no. So we could see the water coming up, the bow of the ship was going down, and there was a kind of an explosion. We could hear the popping and cracking, and the deck raised up and got so steep that the people could not stand on their feet on the deck. So they fell down and slid on the deck into the water right on the ship. Then we hung onto a rope in one of the davits. We were pretty far back at the top deck.

My brother-in-law said to me, "We had better jump off or the suction will take us down." I said, "No. We won't jump yet. We ain't got much show anyhow, so we might as well stay as long as we can." So he stated again, "We must jump off.," But I said, "No; not yet." So, then, it was only about 5 feet down to the water when we jumped off. It was not much of a jump. Before that we could see the people were jumping over. There was water coming onto the deck, and they were jumping over, then, out in the water.

My brother-in-law took my hand just as we jumped off; and my cousin jumped at the same time. When we came into the water, I think it was from the suction – or anyway we went under, and I swallowed some water. I got a rope tangled around me, and I let loose of my brother-in-law's hand to get away from the rope. I thought then, "I am a goner." That is what I thought when I got tangled up in this rope. But I came on top again, and I was trying to swim, and there was a man – lots of them were floating around – and he got me on the neck like that (illustrating) and pressed me under, trying to get on top of me. I said to him, "Let go." Of course, he did not pay any attention to that, but I got away from him. Then there was another man, and he hung on to me for a while, but he let go. Then I swam; I could not say, but it must have been about 15 or 20 minutes. It could not have been over that. Then I saw something dark ahead of me. I did not know what it was, but I swam toward that, and it was one of those collapsible boats."

1940 Census Records Released

Today the National Archives has released the complete digitized records for the 1940 census. These records are the actual questionnaires, with the answers provided by households, used in the 1940 Census of Population and Housing. By law these records are kept confidential for a period of 72 years. If you are interested in looking at how some of your relatives answered census questions in 1940, start with a Research Guide from the Archives, which includes a FAQ, background information, the questions asked in the 1940 census, finding aids, videos, and more.

Of course the data from the 1940 census has been available for decades. Information on census data 1790-2010 can be found using the Libraries’ subject guide, Decennial Census Information at Columbia University Libraries. For more information on actual census records through 1940, use the Ancestry Library database.