New Database — People of the Founding Era


The Washington and Lee University Library has initiated a subscription to the online database People of the Founding Era,  a scholarly reference work that provides biographical information on over 65,000 people born between 1713 (the end of Queen Anne’s War) and 1815 (the end of the Napoleonic War).    Most of the biographical excerpts are drawn from the digitized papers of the Founding Fathers and other documentary editions of the Founding Era, including The Geography of Slavery, augmented by further research by the University of Virginia Press.

This resource is not only biographical, but also prosopographical, allowing collective biographical research by such categories as locations, slaves, occupations,  and gender.   For example, one can view 76 entries on individuals born in or living in Rockbridge County.   (Scan down the page for the list of individuals.)

For much more detail on this ongoing project, we can recommend the site’s Introduction .




The Truth About Jargon


From the Oxford English Dictionary, the foremost etymological dictionary of the English language:

The original meaning of the word “jargon,” dating back at least as far as Chaucer, was “The inarticulate utterance of birds, or a vocal sound resembling it; twittering, chattering.”
We have come so far.

Current members of the Washington and Lee University community — students, faculty, and staff — have online access to the Oxford English Dictionary through the University Library’s subscription.



New Dance Database


The Washington and Lee University Library purchases access to well over 100 research databases to support student and faculty work at W&L.

Our latest acquisition focuses on the world of dance.  Dance in Video is described by its publisher as hosting over 1,200 “dance productions and documentaries by the most influential performers and companies of the 20th century.   Selections cover ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, experimental, and improvisational dance, as well as forerunners of the forms and the pioneers of modern concert dance.”

Members of the current W&L community — students, faculty, and staff — have access to this online database from both on-campus and off-campus locations.   There is a link in the library catalog and links are likely to appear in relevant research guides.

Please note that W&L has purchased Dance in Video for a period of one year and a decision on continued access likely will be based on use during the 2016-17 academic year.



Digitized History from Three Centuries


The Washington and Lee University Library’s Digital Archive project recently posted online a diverse collection of materials from three centuries, with a wide range of perspectives on aspects of W&L and Rockbridge County history.

By far the oldest item is the final will left by local farmer Hugh Adams in the late 1850’s, which includes his wishes for the freeing of his slaves upon his death.

Film footage of the W&L football team’s play in the 1951 Gator Bowl game is augmented by an interview with former player Don Ferguson and recently-recorded commentary from Doug Chase in a 17-minute video.

The 2014 video production Mock Con: The Storied History of the Washington & Lee University Mock Presidential Convention (available in the library on DVD) contained excerpts of interviews with alumni, students, faculty, and other members of the W&L community.   We are now able to share 22 full-length video interviews from which those excerpts were drawn, including comments from W&L President Ken Ruscio and U.S. Senator John Warner.

The ever-growing W&L Digital Archive , which also includes work from faculty and campus organizations and offices, is accessible through the University Library Web site.    Questions about the Digital Archive can be directed to Digital Scholarship Librarian Alston Cobourn.

New Internship Guides


The Washington and Lee University Library subscribes to a database called CEI Internships,  which lists thousands of internship opportunities for undergraduate students.   W&L students can view geographically-arranged descriptions of possibilities with a given focus, such as “Media.”

Several times a year, the publisher releases updated volumes with new and revised listings.  The collections updated for Fall 2016 include the following new editions:

  • International Affairs
  • Women’s Rights
  • Sports
  • Resorts and Seasonable Employment
  • History and Museums
  • Human Rights

Other 2015-16 volumes, such as the Congressional and Social Services entries, continue to be available.   Note:  This is one of a very few W&L subscription databases which has a separate set of passwords, so watch for the prompt to enter the specified password combination.   (for W&L users only)

Of course, W&L headquarters for more extensive information on internships is W&L’s Career Development office.

Willa Wonka and the Oxford English Dictionary


We often wax euphoric about the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the greatest reference works of all time and surely the most authoritative resource on the history of words in the English language.    And it’s fun, too.
For decades the University Library has provided the Washington and Lee community with access to the OED, most recently via the online database, an ongoing project of revision and updating — as it has to be.

This constant research results in new historical information on “old” words, as well as recently-coined terms, being added to the dictionary.  Several times a year the OED releases lists of new words and new meanings, always an occasion for fascination and mirth.   The September 2016 update, with over 500 new words and senses, documents for future scholars the ever-blossoming English language of the early 21st century, with examples such as these:

  • biatch
  • clickbait
  • Merica
  • YOLO
  • [a few we cannot mention here]
  • Oompa Loompa

The last term in this list takes note of the contributions of Roald Dahl, born 100 years ago this year.   For additional fascination and mirth, we recommend the wonderful OED essay on Dahl and the English language, along with this month’s new words.

A good way to keep up with the OED‘s continuing revelations is to follow them on Twitter.     For lengthier treatments, the University Library also has ten or so books about the OED (including one on J. R. R. Tolkien’s involvement).   And a new book is on the way from Oxford University Press!

Library Carrels — Update


September 21 Update:  If you still are interested in a carrel in Leyburn Library, inquire at the Information Desk on the Main Floor.

You also could check the “Available Carrels” maps.   There are a few still available.


Since demand for carrels usually exceeds the supply, interested students might want to register for a carrel during the first couple of days in Fall Term. Registration starts on the first day of class, Thursday 8 September.    We have detailed information on carrel registration, including floor maps, but here is the short version:

Leyburn Library — beginning 8:00 AM on Thursday 8 September
Find a suitable Leyburn Library carrel on Lower Level 1, 2, 3, or 4 and take its registration slip to the Information Desk on the Main Floor.
Telford Science Library — beginning 8:30 AM on Thursday 8 September
Find a suitable Telford Science Library carrel on Level 3 or 4 and take its registration slip to the Circulation Desk on Level 3.   Two students will be assigned to each carrel.

In related news…  On that same first day of classes (Thursday 8 September), both Leyburn Library and Telford Science Library will return to the customary open-24-hours-a-day, seven-days-per-week schedule.  Students wanting to enter either library after 10:00 any evening will need to swipe their W&L ID cards.

And… We’re Off!


Ready or not…

The Fall Term has begun and the University Library —  Leyburn Library and Telford Science Library — is now open 24 hours/day, 7 days/week for the W&L community.   Remember you will need your ID/swipe card to gain entry after 10:00 pm.

We wish the very best of luck to our students!    Let us know how we can help.


2015-16 Theses and Capstone Projects


As part of its charge to document the history of the University, the Washington and Lee University Archives seeks to preserve significant works of scholarship created by W&L undergraduate students.  In keeping with that delightful responsibility, the Archives recently added to its collection information about 61 undergraduate student works from the 2015-16 academic year, including honors theses, senior theses, and capstone project materials.

Records for all these materials are accessible online through the “Student Papers” section of the W&L Digital Archive.    Many of these items are freely available online in their entirety to all users, some are accessible online only to W&L researchers, while still others may be available only in printed form in Leyburn Library’s Special Collections.   We are proud to share so much fascinating work by some of our remarkable students.

The ever-growing W&L Digital Archive , which also includes work from faculty and campus organizations and offices, is accessible through the University Library Web site.    Questions about the Digital Archive can be directed to Digital Scholarship Librarian Alston Cobourn.