In Memory of Ruth Bancroft 9/2/1908 – 11/26/2017

Photo of Ruth Bancroft in The Ruth Bancroft Garden
Ruth Bancroft, photo courtesy of The Ruth Bancroft Garden, photographer unknown

UC Berkeley alumna Ruth Petersson Bancroft, founder of The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek and well-known expert in dry gardening, passed away at the age of 109 on Nov. 26. Her oral history, The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California: Creation in 1971 and Conservation, conducted in 1991 and 1992, is described by interviewer Suzanne B. Riess as “…the amazing chronicle of the growth of a passionate gardener, from her childhood recollections of spring wildflowers on the hills of an earlier, bucolic Berkeley, to her current triumphs, and the tribulations of stewardship of a garden more or less in the public trust.”

The daughter of first-generation Swedish immigrants, Ruth Petersson was born in Massachusetts, but moved to Berkeley, California when her father landed a professorship at UC Berkeley. Of her childhood, she said, “I spent a lot of time wandering around and also over into Wildcat Canyon, just looking at the wildflowers and I think that’s what started me in the interest of wildflowers…” Although Ruth originally studied architecture as one of the only women in the program at UC Berkeley, the Great Depression hit and so for the sake of job security, she switched her career to education. It was during her time as a teacher of home economics in Merced that she met Philip Bancroft, Jr., the grandson of Hubert Howe Bancroft, whose 60,000-volume book collection began the Bancroft Library. After they married, the couple moved onto the Bancroft Farm in the East Bay. The Bancroft family sold much of their land to the city of Walnut Creek as it expanded over the years. Later, in 1971, Philip Bancroft, Jr. gave the last 3-acre plot of walnut orchards to his wife in order to house her extensive collection of succulents.

Though The Ruth Bancroft Garden now boasts a beautiful display of water-conserving plants, the garden was not without its hardships at the beginning. Just a few months after Bancroft began her garden, a severe freeze in December killed nearly all that she had planted. Still, she persevered. “Well, I started again the next year… I figured it doesn’t happen that often, and you can’t just not replant those same things, because they might have another twenty years before they’d be killed again. So I’m just replanting. Have to start over again.” To this, Riess queried, “You didn’t think in some way you had been given a message?” Bancroft laughed and replied, “No.”

A long-time friend of Bancroft and former manager at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, Wayne Roderick said, “I would classify Ruth as a genuine dirt gardener. She’s out there doing things with her bare hands. She would be out in the garden by seven at the latest, and for the first hour she was weeding the path of the little spotted spurge, hand-weeding those paths until her knees would get so sore from the rocks, the gravel. That’s what I mean by a genuine dirt gardener.” In addition to Bancroft’s hands-on style of working, she also kept meticulous records as she created her garden. An invaluable addition to her oral history is the transcription of the entirety of her handwritten notes on the garden’s first year, cataloguing every trial and triumph. Riess urges in her introduction to the oral history, “Any gardener will do well to read that year of Ruth’s journal, to see the value of a journal, as well as the work involved in realizing a dream, and the necessity of being willing to weed!”

Over the years, Bancroft also had many helpers that contributed to the development of her impressive creation, such as Lester Hawkins, who created the original design of the garden, and her husband Philip. Roderick recalls, “Phil Bancroft just adored Ruth, and he wanted her to have anything she wanted. He did everything he could to help her. I don’t think Phil thought about the garden continuing, but he certainly was there to make sure she got what she wanted for the place. He was a farmer-type, but he enjoyed seeing the garden, and he was willing to get in and help.” Later, her garden would inspire fellow gardener Francis Cabot to create the Garden Conservancy, of which the Ruth Bancroft Garden became the first of many private gardens to be preserved for the public.

Still, through all of the international recognition and acclaim she received, Bancroft maintained a simple and genuine love for gardening: “You never know just what’s going to bloom when, during the summer. And a lot of the bloom just lasts a day, or possibly two days. It’s interesting to see what there is, and catch it before it’s gone.” When asked whether she had had a mission for the garden, she replied, “I just started it for the fun of it, and the enjoyment of it. I had no idea that people would be looking at it, no idea at all.“

The Ruth Bancroft Garden will hold a public, all-day celebration of Bancroft’s life on February 17th, 2018.

Maggie Deng
Oral History Center Student Assistant


Announcing the Release of the California / San Francisco Fire Departments Oral History Project

The world of firefighting is much more than masked people in uniforms running into burning buildings and rescuing scared cats from trees. While the bravery of firefighters can’t be overestimated, they also work in a complex system that requires constant training and education, a cohesive partnership with local government, extensive procedures and protocols, managerial oversight, effective communication within departments and to the public, acute familiarity with the local and regional environment, and a whole lot of administrative work. The San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) is a shining example of how people make a civil service operation run and keep people safe. All of these elements, as well as the historic and cultural aspects of the department, are why we chose it as our focus for our California Fire Departments Oral History Project.

The project was originally conceived by Sarah Wheelock, an independent researcher. She wanted to explore several major thematic areas of firefighting in California and she worked with the Oral History Center to do just that. With great sadness we learned that Sarah passed away in 2014 and thus she was unable to see the project through to completion. Taking over the project in 2016, I wanted to honor her original plan and cover the themes that she had outlined. So, I decided to embark on interviews within one department – the SFFD – to document the ways in which they have handled urban fire, climate change, diversity, technological change, and changing demographics.

The SFFD was founded in 1849 and was run by volunteers. It became a paid department, officially integrated into city government, in 1866. The 150th anniversary of the paid department was in 2016, when I was conducting interviews. Given my budget for the project, I was able to interview six people who worked with the SFFD in different capacities. I wanted to include multiple perspectives to understand the organizational, cultural, geographic, economic, and political systems of one of the oldest departments in the country.

The individuals who I interviewed were able to illustrate many of the themes that I wanted to document, and much more. Among the six people I interviewed were Chief Robert Demmons (the first and only African American chief of the SFFD who instrumental in integrating more more women and people of color into the SFFD), Bill Koenig (longtime firefighter and co-founder of Guardians of the City and the SFFD Museum), Jim Lee (also a longtime firefighter and co-founder of Guardians of the City and the SFFD Museum), Steve Nakajo (member of the SFFD Fire Commission), Lt. Anne Young (one of the first females hired), and Jonathan Baxter (longtime paramedic and current Public Information Officer). 

These interviews work in concert to illustrate day-to-day operations in the stations, administrative duties, how the city of San Francisco and the department work together, the relationship between paramedics and the department, training, equipment, fire science school, the role of unions, the challenges and triumphs of integrating the departments, the public perception of the department, the role of innovation and changing technology, cultural changes in the department, challenges in fire safety particular to the geography of San Francisco, and the hopes for the future of the SFFD.

It is with great excitement that we present the California / San Francisco Fire Departments Oral History Project. I want to give a special thanks to all of the narrators for sharing their stories with me and helping me to document one of the most historically significant fire departments in our country.

This project is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Wheelock. Her California Firefighter oral histories from the 2000s will be released in early 2018. 


North American mega-regional print book collections

mega-regions

This map from a 2012 report titled Print Management at “Mega-scale”: A Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America indirectly relates to books and journals in the Romance languages but I thought it might be educational to share since so much of our daily cooperative collection building decisions fit into this framework. It visualizes how shared research library collections coincide with the emergence of mega-regions, or geographical regions defined on the basis of economic integration and other forms of interdependence. For those of us who work in the library, it reinforces the role that research libraries like UCB, UCD, UCSC and Stanford play at the national level and how paramount it is for us to continue to strive together for robust and comprehensive regional collections so that we can support the current and future research and teaching needs at one another’s campuses and beyond.


NOW ON TRIAL: Incidence and Prevalence Database

IPD: Incidence and Prevalence Database is the most efficient way to look at the world’s epidemiology data.

The database covers over 4,500 diseases, procedures, symptoms and other health issues for incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, comorbidity, treated or diagnosed rates, cost and much more.  Updated monthly, all data are linked to the primary source.  Sources include medical journals, trade journals, audits, on-line databases, registries, and market investment reports.

Our trial runs from February 2 through March 6, 2015.

Please send comments and feedback to Debbie Jan.


NOW ON TRIAL: Classic Arabic Texts Online

From now through November 21, 2014, we have trial access to a beta version of Classic Arabic Texts Online from Brill.  The trial version includes access to the following texts:

Kitab Futuh al-buldan (Arabic text) | Author: Ahmad b. Yahya al-Baladhuri | Edited by: M.J. de Goeje (1866)

The Kitab Futuh al-buldan by Ahmad b. Yahya al-Baladhuri (d. c. 892 CE), edited by M.J. de Goeje and originally titled Liber expugnationis regionum (Leiden, 1866), offers an account of the early conquests of the Islamic polity. It has the form of a geographical survey of the Caliphate’s territories, describing how each location came under Muslim rule.

Kitab Futuh al-buldan (English translation) | Subtitle: The Origins of the Islamic State | Author: Ahmad b. Yahya al-Baladhuri | Translation by: P.K. Hitti (volume I: 1916) and F.C. Murgotten (volume II: 1924)

The Origins of the Islamic State is the English translation of Kitab Futuh al-buldan, written by Ahmad b. Yahya al-Baladhuri (d. c. 892 CE). The work offers an account of the early conquests of the Islamic polity. It has the form of a geographical survey of the Caliphate’s territories, describing how each location came under Muslim rule. It was translated into English by Philip Khûri Hitti (volume I: 1916) and Francis Clark Murgotten (volume II: 1924).

Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan | Subtitle: Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum 1-5 | Author: Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamadhani | Edited by: M.J. de Goeje (1885)

Ibn al-Faqih was the Iranian author of a Geography in Arabic entitled Kitab al-buldan written around the year 903. The original work is lost, but the abridged version, possibly composed around 1022, has survived in a handful of manuscripts. Only three manuscripts were known during De Goeje’s life and he used them all for his edition, which was originally published in 1885. Its introduction includes a summary of Ibn Faqih’s life on the basis of the classical sources by De Goeje. Ibn al-Faqih’s Kitab al-buldan offers geographical and historical details not found in other sources, and it was in itself an important source for later works, for example by Muqaddasi and Yaqut.

As Brill builds out this product, they plan to add the following texts by the end of 2014:

  • Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum (with indices and glossaries) edited by M.J. de Goeje and J.H. Kramers
  • De Goeje’s edition of al-Tabari’s Ta’rikh al-rusul wa l-muluk
  • Origins of the Islamic State by Murgotten and Hitti, the English translation of al-Baladhari’s Kitab Futuh al-buldan

Please send comments and feedback to Shayee Khanaka.


ERF Update – September 2014

Current number of records in the ERF: 1110

ADDED since last update

Engineering & Physical Sciences

  • ACI Digital Library. Journals, conference papers, and symposium publications from the American Concrete Institute.
  • ASME Digital Library. Journal articles and conference papers from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  • ChemKnowledge from RightAnswer. Environmental, hazard, and medical information to facilitate the safe management and handling of chemicals.
  • ETDE World Energy Base. Technical reports, conference papers, journal articles, and books on energy-related topics including research and development, policy and planning, renewable energy technologies, and more.
  • Geological Society of America Publications. Journal and e-book archives of the Geological Society of America.
  • ICE Virtual Library. Journals and proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
  • International Nuclear Information System. Scientific literature published worldwide on the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.
  • Lyell Collection. Journals and book series from the Geological Society of London.
  • MIT Press eBooks Library. e-Books in the fields of computer science and engineering technologies.
  • MRS Online Proceedings Library. Peer-reviewed papers presented at Materials Research Society (MRS) Meetings.
  • National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP). Reports and other documents from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • NTRS: NASA Technical Report Server. An index to technical reports, conference papers, journal articles, and other publications sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).
  • Quakeline. Indexes journal articles, conference papers, technical reports, and other materials about earthquakes, earthquake engineering, natural hazard mitigation, and related topics.
  • Royal Society of Chemistry eBook Collection. Chemical science books published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Social Sciences

  • ETHXWeb. An index to materials relating to bioethics and professional ethics.
  • OneSource. Information on public and private companies in the United States, Canada, and rest of the world.
  • Statista. A statistics portal that integrates data from reliable sources on thousands of topics.
  • Statistical Abstract of the World. A collection of the statistical abstracts from many countries.

Arts & Humanities and International & Area Studies

  • Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Essays and articles on major concepts, thinkers, and debates about the meaning, uses, and value of all the arts.
  • Sixth National Population Census of China Database. Official data released by the Statistics Bureau of China following the sixth decennial census in 2010, including population data for the whole country, 31 provinces and centrally administered municipalities, and 2872 counties.
  • Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Bibliography of books and articles on aspects of Greek epigraphy, as well as summaries of Greek inscriptions.

Life Sciences & Health Sciences

  • ETHXWeb. An index to materials relating to bioethics and professional ethics.
  • JSTOR Global Plants. A community-contributed database of high resolution plant type specimen images and other foundational materials from the collections of hundreds of herbaria around the world.
  • National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP). Reports and other documents from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • SafetyLit: Injury Prevention Literature Update & Archive Database. Weekly updates of injury research and prevention literature and a searchable archive of items published beginning in the mid-17th century.

DELETED since last update

  • SNL Real Estate (cancelled)

CHANGED since last update

  • Index to Theses is now called ProQuest Dissertations & Theses: UK & Ireland

Opera in Video from Alexander Street Press on trial through 10/11/14

Opera in Video is a comprehensive collection of operatic performances covering the most commonly studied operas in music history, opera literature, and performance classes. The collection contains 500 hours of video comprising nearly 300 operatic works.

For more information about the content of this resource, visit this page.

We have a free trial to this resource through October 11, 2014.

Please send comments to John Shepard.


ERF Update – May 2014

Current number of records in the ERF: 1088

ADDED since last update

 

  • Art Source. Covers a broad range of related subjects, from fine, decorative and commercial art, to various areas of architecture and architectural design.
  • British Online Archives. Multiple archival collections relating to the politics and history of Britain and its colonized territories.
  • Dictionary of American Regional English. Discover the full panoply of American regional words, phrases, and pronunciations with DARE.
  • Editoria Italiana Online (EIO). Full text collection of Italian e-books and e-journals, mostly in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Covers the entire ancient Mediterranean world, including the Near East and Egypt. Extensively illustrated with photographs, figures, and maps.
  • Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1947-1971. British Government documents on South Asia for the period between 1947 and 1971.
  • GeoScienceWorld. A portal to journals and conferences in the geosciences; integrated with GeoRef.
  • Getty Publications Virtual Library. Getty’s collection catalogues, translations of art historical research, exhibition catalogues, journals, and material on conservation published since 1966.
  • International Newsstand. Articles from hundreds of newspapers worldwide, plus reports from media monitoring organizations which include broadcast and wire service content. Article content is full text, displayed in ASCII format, not page-image.
  • Jewish Theater under Stalinism – Moscow. Sources on the history of Soviet culture and theater, Jewish avant-garde art, and the Kremlin’s policy toward Jewish society and culture from 1919 until 1949.
  • Leo S. Olschki Collections. The publications of Italian publisher Leo S. Olschki are among the most widely held Italian publications across the Berkeley Library. This online collection comprises nearly 1,200 e-books in the social sciences and humanities and the complete backfiles to six journals.
  • OnePetro. Includes the full text of papers published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Petroleum Institute, NACE International, ISOPE, and more.
  • Oxford Bibliographies Linguistics. A detailed guide to and expert commentary on linguistics scholarship.
  • Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Authoritative definitions for terms used in all branches of psychology, including psychoanalysis, psychiatry, criminology, neuroscience, and statistics.
  • The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR). Database of genetic and molecular biology data for the model higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
  • Verfasser-Datenbank. Articles on literary authors in the German-speaking world from the Middle Ages to the present.

 

DELETED since last update

 

  • In the First Person (no longer being updated)
  • World Registry of Dams (no longer free; we have opted not to subscribe)
  • Korean Studies Information Company (cancelled)
  • Korea AtoZ (cancelled)
  • World News Connection (no longer being updated; International Newsstand is our substitute)

 



Library of Congress Subject Headings of Interest

March 2014

Library of Congress Subject Headings of Interest

Library of Congress Subject Headings can serve as social commentary, as historical milestones, or sometimes, as entertainment. Following are a few that have academic or everyday uses. We hope you enjoy them.

 

Backyard skating rinks  (May Subdivide Geographically)

Bad news  (May Subd Geog)

Ballet dancing for men  (May Subd Geog)

Bees in art

Endangered languages  (May Subd Geog)

Supervolcanoes  (May Subd Geog)

 

~ Jean Dickinson and Jane Rosario

Catalog & Metadata Services


Vendor Visit: Harrassowitz

Berkeley’s Harrassowitz representative Kasia Stasik will be visiting campus on Thursday November 14th.  A presentation on Harrassowitz’s online selection tool OttoEditions will take place from 1pm to 3pm in 303 Doe.  Time will also be reserved for selector questions related to their current profiles and other services Harrasssowitz offers.

For more information, contact Jason Schultz.