Each Tuesday or Wednesday, I try to post a link to one of the many amazing resources for learning that I've found online. Our collection so far includes the free cell biology lectures by top researchers at iBioSeminars and the 25,000 free e-Books from Munseys.com. Commenters have suggested the medical resources The Doctor's Guide (via Margot) and Patient Care (via chch16), the archeology site The Archeology Channel (via Elliott), and the philosophy videos compiled at a brood comb blog (via creepydude).
Having touched on biology and literature, this week I want to look into a little history through one of my favorite sites, The American Memory collection at the Library of Congress. It's an enormous trove of scanned documents, photos, maps, old advertising, and audio and video recordings from the mid-1800s to the present.
In fact, it's so big that it's difficult to know where to begin. (It's also organized in an unfortunate way that can be difficult to browse. But that's more than made up for by the sheer volume of material available.) Here's one place to begin: the Sound Recording directory. Click into an individual collection (Folk Music, Dust Bowl, for example) and then browse the photos and mp3s of the people and their music. Since I think Woody Guthrie said just about everything that ever needs to be said, that's where I began. But for purposes here, why don't I start a little closer to home: New York City.
Here's a map, for example, from the railroad maps, of NYC's rail system around 1881. In light of the news today that federal funding will likely come through to finally build the Second Avenue Subway, it's fun to see that 125 years ago they already had a Second Avenue rail line. It's a map you can't do without if you need to know how to get to Tammany Hall, or the Homeopathic Hospital (it's right over there on... um, Fourth Ave.)
The collection includes the modern day, right through Alan Lomax's landmark WPA-era recordings (his recordings, in the first days of portable audio recording machines -- "portable" meaning you could fit the devices in your car, barely -- let everyday people listen to themselves and each other for the first time, and launched the folk music movement) and up to interviews around the country in the months following the September 11 attacks. In the Lomax tradition, the recordings don't include pundits or politicians, but ordinary people like you and me -- including NYC school kids and doormen like Amanda Mummery and Daniel Dominguez, below.