Oxford University Press, with considerable justification, states that the Oxford English Dictionary “has been the principal dictionary of record for the English language throughout the lifetime of all current users of the language.” In short, for anyone interested in the history of English-language words, the OED pretty much is the Holy Grail. For example, the earliest documented use of the word “grail” was around 1330 AD.
First published as a “complete” work in 1928, the OED (originally known at A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles) is a living, breathing ongoing project, keeping track of recently-minted words and meanings, as well as monitoring new research than can update existing entries. Four times each year, the editors release a list of new words, phrases, and meanings, always an occasion for fascination and media coverage. The March 2017 list is no exception.
Please note that there are no direct links from this new list into the dictionary’s entries, since the publication is a commercial enterprise. However, current members of the Washington and Lee community (students, faculty, staff) can consult the OED to their hearts’ content through the University Library’s subscription link. Printed copies of the first edition (1928) and second edition (1989) are available in the library collection.
Beware of pogonophobia.
It is not often that a commercial newspaper publishes a substantial article about another newspaper. Nevertheless, readers of the Roanoke Times likely noticed a recent piece about the Rockbridge Advocate, the beloved and ongoing creation of Washington and Lee alumnus Doug Harwood (’74) . Lexington and Rockbridge Country residents likely already know about the Advocate, but anyone who treasures traditional journalism and the “unvarnished version of events in Lexington and Rockbridge County” will enjoy this article.
One question might arise in a reader’s mind: Where might one view the entire quarter-century run of the Rockbridge Advocate? This question is of particular interest because there is no online form of the newspaper. Perhaps the only publicly-accessible complete archive is available in W&L’s Leyburn Library, with paper copies of every issue safely preserved in our Special Collections area. Current issues are shelved on the Main Floor, which also houses microfilm of 1992-2003 issues.
At the moment, digitizing this local institution (the newspaper, not Mr. Harwood) is only a gleam in our eye, but we have hopes. The library’s Special Collections staff currently is working on a project to index the contents for the use of the many researchers interested in the area’s events and personalities.
If you are looking for some excellent reading, you could hardly do better than to peruse the list of books to be discussed at Washington and Lee’s Science, Society, and the Arts event on Friday 17 March. The SSA conference kicks off the day before, on Thursday 16 March.
Each of these provocative books will be the focus of a discussion led by a panel of students and faculty. For a complete schedule of these discussions, with a list of books and the locations of the sessions, see this Colloquia page . All of these books are part of the W&L library collection, but most of them currently are checked out, which probably is a good sign.
These Colloquia sessions are only part of the two days of performances and presentations which make up the multidisciplinary SSA program. Here is a full description of the festivities, which includes Friday’s poster session in Leyburn Library.
Several of the books to be discussed are relatively new publications, with five published in 2016. But what is the oldest book we will consider? The answer is Martin Luther King’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, which was published 50 years ago this year. W&L readers can view this advertisement for the book from the 12 July 1967 New York Times.