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Posts Tagged ‘Library of Congress’

To the easily exhausted,

Believe it or not, I was a lazy scholar even in high school. Ah yes, the days of Netscape and dial-up service, I remember them like they were yesterday! Even then you could find me at my family’s computer, scouring online archives for primary sources sooner than I’d touch the dusty tomes of the local library.

One of my first discoveries was the vast and amazing archives of the Library of Congress, which, all these years later, still reward a careful search or casual browse. Among the most evocative of their many collections has to be Voices from the Dust Bowl. The songs, beautiful, haunting, and fascinating, open a unique window into the lives of migrant workers in 1940s California.

Take, for instance, the talented King family playing “The Kickin’ Mule,” with the memorable chorus,

Whoa there mule I tell you
Miss Liza you keep cool
I ain’t got time to kiss you now
I’m busy with that this mule.

You can read the complete lyrics here.

Another of my all-time favorites is Jack Bryant singing “Lonely, I’m So Lonely,” but be advised: it might prove difficult to get out of your head once you’ve heard it.

And who can resist the casual misogyny of “A Woman’s Tongue Will Run Forevermore,” sung by “Mrs. Kitt,” who warns, a woman “will talk a man to death.” You can read one version of the lyrics here.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today, dear listeners. But I’ll leave you with one last track, a six-year-old boy imitating a frog, a freight train, and a chicken. We can only hope he eventually found his way to a Hollywood soundstage.

Audibly yours,

Stephen

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Dear siesta sympathizers,

Those of you following the Lazy Scholar blog may be asking yourself, “Who is that handsome devil on the homepage?” No, dear readers, it’s not a portrait of yours truly, but rather the official Lazy Scholar mascot—known in his own time and place as Paul Nebeker Bogart. The mixed-media caricature comes from a clever 1905 portfolio depicting famous businessmen from that center of international commerce: Terre Haute, Indiana. Bogart himself was a locally-born lawyer (and later a banker)–but not one afraid of distraction. As the authors recounted, “Law books do not furnish all of Mr. Bogart’s reading. He enjoys literature of another kind occasionally, and frequently looks up authorities other than law, when ‘down’ for a paper before the Literary Club.”

I stumbled across the book while digging around the Internet Archive’s ample Americana collection, which includes a surprising number of similar books, practically a genre of illustrated guides to your local chamber of commerce, apparently quite popular at the beginning of the 20th century. So whether you’re looking for a realtor in Seattle (pictured below), a banker in Indianapolis, an opera treasurer in L.A., a grocer in Fort Wayne, or a New Haven professor—should you find yourself in the early 1900s, you’ll know where to go!

realtor

My favorite, though, for sheer whimsy, has to be the 1918 book Mother Goose Comes to PortlandMaine, that is—one of the few of its kind to include women, not to mention nursery rhyme parodies. Here’s a verse about the president of the local chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (pictured below): “Where are you going, my pretty maid?”/”I’m going a-milking, Sir,” she said./  “What’s the idea, my pretty maid?”/  “Constructive criticism, Sir,” she said./  “In asking that people shall give up wine,/  I offer a substitute in its stead.”

wctu
For yet more caricatures, check out the exhibits from the Library of Congress’s Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. And don’t forget our Canadian neighbors!

Internationally yours,

Stephen

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