Wednesday, 8 December 2010

December 7, 1941: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

One thing I thought might be fun to do on occasion on this blog is to showcase some individual documents from our various resources that tie in with events and days in history.  Yesterday was the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and today is the anniversary of the USA's declaration of war on Japan and entry into World War II (mutual declarations of war with Germany and Italy followed a few days later).  I've had a look through some of our e-resources to see what I could find relating to the Pearl Harbor attack, as follows:

Newspapers and contemporary reports
We have electronic access to the archives of both the New York Times and the Washington Post. You can search them individually or both at once, if you select them both on the first screen you come to after clicking through from OxLIP+.   Searching both for December 8, 1941 brings up a large number of articles and editorials, and you can also get to images of the front pages of both papers from that day.

Link to full page image (Oxford users only)

Link to full page image (Oxford users only)

The official response
The US Congressional Serial Set is our major e-resource for US government publications. I'll write in more detail about it in forthcoming blog posts, but it contains all the reports and documents submitted to Congress from 1817-1994.  A search for 'Pearl Harbor' and '1941' brings up both the House and Senate Documents from the Joint Session where President Roosevelt addressed Congress and requested that they declare war:

Serial Set Vol. No. 10599, Session Vol. No.22
77th Congress, 1st Session
H.Doc. 453

State of war between the United States and the Japanese empire. Address from the President of the United States before a joint session of the two houses of Congress requesting that Congress declare that there exists a state of war between the United States and the Japanese empire. December 8, 1941. 

Link to access the full document from the Congressional Serial Set (Oxford users only)

The President's address can also be found in the Congressional Record, along with the resolution to declare war and the record of the proceedings in the Joint Session. We don't have the Congressional Record as an electronic resource, but the print volumes are all held in the library - the volume that includes the proceedings on December 8th is v.87, pt.24.  The Senate record also includes various newspaper editorials in response to the attack that were entered into the record at the request of Senator Bridges.  This is the kind of material that is sometimes additionally found in the Congressional Record that you might not otherwise expect or be able to get hold of here in Oxford, as we don't have holdings of many US newspapers for the 20th century.
Another Pearl Harbor-related document that you can find in the Serial Set is the report of the commission appointed by the President to investigate the attack, which was submitted to the Senate in January 1942.

Serial Set Vol. No. 10676, Session Vol. No.8
77th Congress, 2nd Session
S.Doc. 159

Attack upon Pearl Harbor by Japanese armed forces. Report of the commission appointed by the President of the United States to investigate and report the facts relating to the attack made by Japanese armed forces upon Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

Link to access the full document from the Congressional Serial Set (Oxford users only)

On the web: Eyewitness accounts and more
As ever, there is a huge amount of material available on the internet, including eyewitness accounts, oral histories, documents and images of all sorts.  Here's just a sample of things available on the web related to the Pearl Harbor attack:
  • World War II diaries ( is a subscription website, but regularly makes parts of its collections free for a month at a time.  For December, they have opened up their World War II diaries collection.  Most of the content starts in 1942, but it does include this eyewitness account of the 1941 attack.
  • Hawaii War Records Depository Photos: a wealth of digitised photographs documenting the impact of World War II in Hawaii, which were deposited at the Hawaii War Records Depository at the University of Hawaii.  The collection includes 86 images related to the Pearl Harbor attack.
  • Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives (University of California): Not about the attack per se, but this online archive contains a huge number of images (photographs, paintings and drawings) and some documents relating to the internment of Japanese Americans following the attack.
  • Various oral histories can also be found on YouTube, and even some old film footage, such as the video embedded below.

For more links to freely available web resources, take a look at the VHL's delicious page.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

How to access electronic resources away from Oxford

(Cross-posted to the VHL blog)

If you're going to be away from Oxford over the Christmas vacation, you can still access library electronic resources even when not connected to the University network.   There are two ways to do this.  One is to sign up for a remote access account with OUCS and install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software on your computer, but if that seems fiddly (or you've already left Oxford and not sorted that out), library resources are still accessible to you without it.   All you need to do is sign in on SOLO or OxLIP+ using your University single sign-on account, and then click through to the resource you're looking for - it will know who you are and grant you access as a University member. Now you can enjoy uninterrupted research, no matter where you are!

Monday, 29 November 2010

American Founding Era Collection

For the first proper post on this blog, I thought I'd start with a resource that we don't actually own yet, but which we are currently trialling.   We have access to the American Founding Era Collection from the University of Virginia Press until 3rd January 2011, and so if this is your period, I'd encourage you to make the most of this resource while we do.   We would like to be able to purchase it permanently, funds-permitting, and if you'd like us to do so, then lots of usage and positive feedback would be great!

UPDATE: We have now purchased this resource.

The American Founding Era Collection contains digital versions of the published papers of several major figures of the time.  The collections it contains are as follows:
  • The Adams Papers
  • The Papers of Thomas Jefferson
  • The Dolley Madison Digital Edition
  • The Papers of James Madison
  • The Papers of George Washington
  • The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution 
With the exception of the Dolley Madison papers, these are digital editions of the print versions, which have been being published in large, ongoing series for many years.  We do have these print volumes at the VHL (which you can locate by searching SOLO), but the digital versions offer a variety of ways to access the papers and are of course fully searchable - no need to go hunting through indexes or worry you might miss a reference along the way, which for such enormous publications is a huge help.

Note on the Adams Papers: The Founding Era Collection only contains these papers from the founding-generation of the Adams family, and so the bulk of the papers available date from the 18th century.

Note on the Dolley Madison Digital Edition:  This is the first ever complete edition of all Dolley Madison's correspondence. This collection was 'born digital', and is currently complete up to 1837. It is included in and can be accessed via the Founding Era Collection, but also has a separate platform, the one on which it was originally built, which also includes annotations that aren't accessible from the Founding Era platform. There are links across to the standalone platform from each document in the Founding Era Collection so that these annotations can be found easily.

How to use the database
As well as the full-text search, the browsing options are very powerful. You can browse collections individually or the whole lot at once, and have a choice of doing so by chronology (date of document) or by contents (order of the documents in the published volumes).  There are also browsable indexes available to the Adams, Jefferson, and Washington Papers.

Once you have started browsing any of the contents, chronology, indexes or your search results, there is a navigation compass to take you forward and back through the different levels and documents.  It looks a bit like part of the background (at least, I didn't realise what it was at first!), so in case it's not just me that overlooked it, I thought it was worth pointing out.  The platform's own guide describes how the compass works as follows:
 The navigation compass can be used to move between different places in the current view. The up and down arrows are used to move up and down within the hierarchy. For example, starting at the top of the contents view and repeatedly clicking the down arrow takes you from the publication to a series to a volume and so on down to individual documents. For the chronology view, doing the same thing takes you from decade to year to month to day to documents within that day. The left and right arrows are used to navigate between adjacent items at the same hierarchical level. Thus, if you are in the level corresponding to volumes of a publication, then clicking the left or right arrow takes you to the preceding or following volume, respectively. Again, if you are at the months level of the chronological hierarchy, then clicking the left or right arrows takes you to the preceding or following month. 
It took me a bit of getting used to, but once you've got your head round the structure of the collection, it is an easy way to move from one part to another.  Next to it you always see where you are in the hierarchy.

The documents themselves are transcribed, not page images, and contain links to notes, explanatory references and other documents where relevant. You can print documents, but there are no options for exporting/saving records other than to make a note of the durable URL given in the citation box at the bottom of each document.  This box is a useful addition though, giving you guidance on how to cite the document in bibliographies, which can often be tricky to know how to do for online resources.

The collections are still being added to, as the print publication projects are still ongoing.  This is of course less relevant for Oxford users at the moment, as we will lose access after 3rd January, but if we do purchase the collection then it will continue to grow from what is currently available.   There is also a complementary project, Founders Early Access, which is freely available online (and therefore available to Oxford users even after 3rd January) as well as accessible within the main site.  The Early Access collection contains documents that are in the process of being prepared for both print and online publication.  Once the documents are added to the main collection, they disappear from the Early Access site, but whether we do purchase the entire collection or not, it's useful to know that you can access unpublished papers here.  The link for the Early Access collection is: and you can keep up with updates to it at  It might also be worth pointing out that the University of Virginia is working with the National Archives to make some of the Founders' papers freely available online from 2012

The American Founding Era Collection is accessible via OxLIP+, and as a trial it is currently listed on the front page. If you are away from Oxford, you can get into the database as long as you sign in via SOLO/OxLIP+ first with your University single sign-on.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Welcome to the US Studies Resources at Oxford blog!  The posts that follow are intended to help students and researchers make the most of the collections available at the Vere Harmsworth Library, as well as more widely at the Bodleian and University of Oxford and online.

I'm aiming to post a couple of times a month, all being well (those who are regular faces at the VHL and RAI will know though that there are often many other demands on my time...), and cover both specific resources and more general topics.   Some posts will reflect enquiries I've been dealing with, and others may be more practical guidance on locating and using resources.  Hopefully the blog will build up into a useful resource in its own right.  Please feel free to let me know if there are things you'd like me to blog about - topics or resources - and I'll see what I can do!

If you want to keep up with general news from the VHL, you'll find that on the VHL blog.

I'm working on the first 'proper' post as we speak, and it should be up in a few days.  If you don't want to miss out, then why not subscribe by RSS or email using the handy links on the right.