Friday, December 19, 2008

End of the Semester

Last night was my last class of the semester for the class I teach at the College of St. Catherine, "Preservation and Conservation." If you want to get some flavor of the class you can check out the class blog. It was, I think, a fun and productive class. I'm in the process of reading the journals kept by the class (thanks to Kevin Driedger for the idea) and getting grades submitted. All of which is to say that I should be a little more active on this blog again. I've missed writing here, but really needed to keep track of what was happening with the class.

It's been a bit of a crazy fall semester, beyond the class. We have a vacant position (that won't be filled any time soon, given our "hiring pause") and another staff member was out most of the semester with medical issues (thankfully, he's now back), but it meant that I (and my students) were carrying most of the load for keeping the unit going.

On the plus side, I presented at two conferences (at the University of Regina and the Minnesota Library Association). The Canada paper should be posted online sometime in the future. I'll put in a link when that happens.

Now I getting reading to head to New York after the New Year for the annual birthday festivities of the Baker Street Irregulars and then to England in late February and March for a Sherlockian research trip.

We'll be open during the semester break, except for the holidays. Click here for the full rundown on holiday hours.

Happy Holidays to all!

A Pirate Hoax (and a good one)

There's an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed about a class project that is worth some attention, especially as it relates to historiography, archives, and what you can get away with on the Web. Here's the opening of the article:

Did you know that a pirate roamed the Eastern Seaboard as late as the 1870s, and lived into the 20th century? Edward Owens haunted the lower reaches of the Chesapeake Bay after the economic crash of 1873 wiped out his living as an oyster fisherman. Owens robbed but didn't kill his victims, and when the economy picked up, he gave up piracy for good. He died in 1938.

Owens's exploits might have been lost to the mists of time if not for an undergraduate student named Jane Browning, who stumbled on the story in a cafe in Gloucester County, Virginia, and tracked down the man behind the legend. You can read more about Owens in his Wikipedia entry and on Ms. Browning's blog, The Last American Pirate. On YouTube, you can watch Ms. Browning visit the site of Owens's house and interview a couple of historians about his historical status.

It's a good story. None of it is true.