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Archive | July, 2013

Rarely Seen Richmond: Never seen before sights

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Visitors to Capital Alehouse, a popular restaurant located in downtown Richmond, may have noticed some unique pictures of the city hanging on the walls. What they probably don’t know is that these pictures are actually prints of Richmond postcards that Virginia Commonwealth University has been collecting for years.

The images came from a digital exhibit called Rarely Seen Richmond that contains early 20th century postcards of the city. The exhibit was put up by Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library, and contains about 600 unique postcards that anyone can download and use for free – which is how Capital Alehouse got them.

“Both owners were from Richmond and wanted to incorporate Richmond into the restaurant,” said Kyle Johnson, the restaurant’s associate manager. “That’s when they found the postcard series at VCU.”

The exhibit began in 1998, when archives coordinator Ray Bonis put up 50 postcards that focused on Richmond architecture. Then, a few years later, a retired police officer called Bonis with an interesting offer.

“He said, hey, I’ve got a collection of about 2,000 postcards. If you want them, you can have them,” Bonis said. William Schuman donated the 2,000 postcards to VCU, and about 500 of them made it into the Rarely Seen Richmond exhibit.

The cards chosen from Schuman’s collection, as well as the original cards Bonis collected, are all from the same period.

“We stuck with the ones from about 1900 to 1930,” Bonis said. “They picked better scenes, and the color was more natural…. We also didn’t have to worry about copyright, which is the big thing if you put stuff on the Digital Library.”

Bonis called this period the golden age of postcards: lots of people were printing them, he said, and lots of people were buying – both for actual use and for collections like Schuman’s.

“I’d say about 90 percent were used,” Bonis said. “It’s kind of neat to see the writing on the back…. Sometimes they say outrageous stuff.”

But the real attraction of these postcards, according to Bonis, is the history of the images.

“I think the best thing about this is the architectural history,” Bonis said. “It gives people an idea of what Richmond looked like. A lot of Richmond is torn down now, and it gives people a chance to look at how things were.”

Tom H. Ray, the collections management coordinator at the Library of Virginia who worked with Bonis on a book about Richmond postcards, said he is especially fascinated by images of buildings that look very different today. He said some of his favorite cards show the capitol building in its original state.

“I would have liked to have seen the capitol before it had those additions put on and got whitewashed,” Ray said. “It’s the capitol building as Jefferson would have seen it.”

The images of city sights never seen before may be the most attractive thing about the collection, because Capital Alehouse is not the only venue interested in using copies of the postcards; Bonis said he gets requests to use the images three or four times a year. But Bonis is especially interested in the prints at Capital Alehouse.

“They’ve got a ton of our postcards,” he said. “I keep hoping to go down to the restaurant and mention to them that I scanned all these cards, and maybe I’ll get a free meal.”

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To view the collection in person, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library.

By Caitlin Puffenberger, communications intern
Public Relations Office

Image: The Egyptian Building. Rarely Seen Richmond Collection

New England Journal of Medicine: Medical reporting history

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The New England Journal of Medicine has a history of groundbreaking medical reporting, including its coverage of the first demonstration of ether anesthesia, the first successful treatments of childhood leukemia and the role of aspirin in heart health.

Its archives, available through VCU Libraries, include more than 150,000 articles and 85,000 images from 1812 to 1989. The current subscription covers 1990 to present. The full-text of every issue can be searched, browsed and downloaded.

The New England Journal of Medicine has been in publication for two centuries and reaches 177 countries. According to its website, it is the most-cited medical journal in the world and the only one to win an award for journalistic writing.

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By Caitlin Puffenberger, communications intern 

Image: New England Journal of Medicine

Chronicle of Higher Education: University faculty resource

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The Chronicle of Higher Education offers national and international news, job postings, advice, facts and figures and more for university faculty and administrators. It also offers forums on topics like “Tech Talk for Befuddled Academics,” “Diversity in the Workplace” and “The Administrative Track.”

VCU Libraries faculty and staff can access The Chronicle using an iPad, smart phone, tablet or any computer located anywhere in the world. Simply create a free account using your “” email address at Account holders may download The Chronicle’s iPad editions at no cost.

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Image: Chronicle of Higher Education

Business Databases: Five business resources

These business and industry databases are a great resource for students of business, advertising and mass communications, as well as researchers interested in business trends, entrepreneurship and corporate work.

  • IBISWorld: Reports for all 723 U.S. industries categorized by NAICS include market size, competitors, forecasting, business valuations, benchmarking, business environment and global industry reports. A new module includes specialized industries such as forensic accounting services, popcorn production, psychic services, ice cream making machinery manufacturing, fantasy sport services and medical marijuana growing. Find It
  • Plunkett Research Online: Analysis and market research for industry sectors like trend analysis, statistics, organizations, company profiles and information for job-seekers. Plunkett covers some 30 industries plus Asian companies, Canadian industries, international companies and middle market companies. Find It
  • PrivCo: Business and financial data on major, non-publicly traded corporations, including family-owned, private equity-owned, venture-backed and internationally-unlisted companies. PrivCo pulls back the curtain on private businesses such as Subway, pinkberry, IKEA, J. Crew, Levis, Arby’s, Brooks Brothers, Twitter, Chanel and 80,000 more businesses that make up most of our major corporations. Find It
  • WARC: Global advertising and marketing trends, including market intelligence, case studies, conference reports, expenditure data, profiles of major brand owners, consumer insight and a collection of advertising campaign videos. This publisher’s portfolio includes Admap, Market Leader, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research and International Journal of Market Research (full-text). Find It
  • Best’s Library Center: Full-text insurance reports, credit reports and other in-depth insurance industry information and statistics. It also provides insurance industry news and a look at corporate changes dating back to 1819. Find It

Compiled by Bettina Peacemaker, business research librarian

Image: Creative Commons

British Periodicals: Coverage of publications from 1680 to 1930s

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British Periodicals Collection II contains comprehensive full-run coverage of popular and scholarly publications from the 1680s to the 1930s. This collection focuses on the culture and creative industries of Britain and consists of more than 300 journals. Coverage includes publications from the microfilm collections English Periodicals and British Periodicals in the Creative Arts as well as additional selected titles. Journals were chosen based on importance within the field of British studies and availability in American libraries.

Access to full-text primary source materials in indexed digital formats, such as British Periodicals, is changing the nature of teaching and research in the arts and humanities. Researchers can work directly with primary sources for assignments rather than solely relying on interpretive texts.

Multidisciplinary in its scope, Collection II brings the vital British art press directly to researchers. Subjects covered in this collection include literature, music, art, drama, archeology and architecture in Britain and beyond.

Researchers can search the full-text of each page of these publications previously unavailable online. Some 3 million pages are available in high-resolution facsimile images. Page images are available in both bitonal versions, for ease of reading on a screen, and grayscale versions, to provide a more authentic and detailed record.

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By Emily Davis, arts collections librarian

Image: Play Pictorial: Babes in the Woods, British Periodicals