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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Census + Librarians = Nuggets

Recently, I was searching for a boarding house in the 1860 U.S. Census. When I found it, I had a nice surprise. I managed to translate the census taker's looped scrawl into "librarian." That's right--in 1860, the Mississippi State Librarian was living at the Dixon House in Jackson, the very place I was trying to find:

1860 U.S. Federal Census - T.W. Johns
"Wouldn't it be even nicer," thought I, "if I could find a little nugget about this T.W. Johns, Librarian State, to share with our readers?" I snuck into Tracy's office and borrowed her copy of A History of Mississippi Libraries. (Thanks, Tracy!) As I scanned the list of former State Librarians, two facts grabbed my attention. One was that good old T.W. only lasted one year. (That's OK, T.W. Librarying isn't for everyone.) The second? The first female State Librarian, Mary Morancy, appeared in 1876. I managed to find her census record, too:

1880 U.S. Federal Census - Mary Morancy
Let me amend that. The list of State Librarians actually looks like this:
J.B. Harris for Mrs. Mary Morancy, 1876-1880
F.M. Shelton for Mrs. Mary Morancy, 1880-1884
Frank Johnston for Mrs. Mary Morancy, 1884-1892
T.J. Buchanan for Miss Rose Lee Tucker, 1892-1896
I found an explanation when I flipped the page:
Ladies have held the job since 1876, but from 1876 to 1896 it was the custom for a man to run for the post, then appoint a lady to serve.
I am flabbergasted at this system! I wonder if the men who campaigned for the library job they wouldn't perform advertised who they planned to appoint. I imagine this campaign slogan:
Vote for Tippecanoe--I'll get you Marian Paroo!
Aren't we lucky that they decided to move to a system where librarians were hired based on their accomplishments in their own right? If you would like to know a bit more about the Mississippi State Librarian, simply click the link!
Howell, J.B. and Margarete Peebles, eds. A History of Mississippi Libraries. Montgomery, AL: Paragon Press, 1975. Print.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Overly Exuberant Librarian

I bought the tickets this morning. We're going to watch the last of Rowling's books take life on the silver screen. Both of us are literally counting down the hours; the back-and-forth texting comparing who is more excited has been going on since the crack of dawn. So, do you know what happens when a Harry Potter fan is a Reference Librarian? (Picture gleeful rubbing together of hands.)

  • A Potter family of four--James, Lily, and tots Minerva and Loyd-- lived in Otero, Colorado in 1900.
  • There were three James and Lily Potter households in the 1901 England Census:
    James and Lily Potter, 1900s style

    Little Hulton
    James Potter - coal miner
    Lily - wife
    John and Ethel - children

    James Potter - general labourer
    Lily - wife
    Lily Lee, Joseph Lee, and Robert Lee - step-children
    Henrietta Potter - daughter

    James Potter - printer
    Lily - wife
    Elizabeth - mother-in-law

    Now, why didn't any of them name a son Harry? That's just no fun!
  • In 1830, there were only two Harry Potters living in the US. Incidentally, they both lived in New York State.
  • By 1930, the number of Harry Potters in the US had increased to 229. One was even born in Mississippi in 1910.
  • Although there is no Voldemort in any of the US Censuses, there were 23 Tom Riddles listed in the 1930 census.
  • Neville's wedding cake
  • In May of 1994, a Mr. Neville Longbottom was married in Bristol. Congratulations, Neville!
  • From 1928-1944, a Hermione Granger lived in Monterey County, California.
  • There were six Lovegoods in the 1881 England Census. Sadly, none of them were named Luna or Xenophilius.
  • There were 41 Weasleys in the 1920 US Census. It seems the American branch wasn't as prolific as the British.
  • There were nine McGonagalls living in Scotland in 1871.
  • Dumbledore
  • Dumbledore means a humble-bee or bumble-bee.
  • Hagrid means exactly what it looks like... someone who is hag ridden, and thus, is oppressed in mind or harassed. "When she had not slept she did not quaintly tell the servants next morning that she had been ‘hagrid’." T. Hardy Mayor of Casterbridge
  • Snape means to rebuke or snub, or to check, restrain, or curb.
  • Mundungus is poor-quality, bad-smelling tobacco.

That's what a Reference Librarian with Harry Potter on the brain gets up to. Only 3 1/2 more hours until magic time. I could use a Cheering Charm to get me through. Get out your wands, people!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

1960 Jackson Household Equipment Stats.

Yesterday we received a question about the number of households in 1960 Jackson that had telephone service. If you are a librarian – and this includes those of you who are merely librarians at heart – you know that this is a perfect question. 1960 was a census year. It’s a reasonable assumption that this question may have been included in the housing census. Jackson is a big enough city that the data is probably available. Time to dig!

(An example of an imperfect question: how many households in 1967 Itta Bena watched I Dream of Jeannie?)

The answer was in the 1960 Census of Population and Housing; 76% of households had telephone service. I was actually more interested in some of the other data found on the same table relating to “selected equipment” for households in Jackson:

Washing machine: 62% (of these, 13% had only a “wringer or spinner”)
Dryer: 7%
Freezer: 19%
Car: 77% had at least one
Air conditioning: 30% (!!); only 5% of Jackson homes had central air
TV: 88% had at least one
Radio: 89% had at least one

Those air conditioning numbers are really giving me second thoughts about the time travel I’ve been planning.

It does remind me, however, about when I first moved to Jackson and lived in an apartment in the historic Belhaven area. My apartment had window units, and my mother was just shocked about this. I drove her past Eudora Welty’s house on Pinehurst, with the window unit hanging out of the living room window up front. I told my mother that if window units were good enough for Miss Welty, they were good enough for me!

Speaking of, if you come to Jackson, you should tour the Eudora Welty House. You’ll learn that Miss Welty didn’t like air conditioning and that the living room’s unit was the only one in the house. (The house now has central air, so don’t worry, Mom.)
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