Armenian and Ethiopic Manuscripts

June 24th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Two of the UCLA Library’s large manuscript collections, the Armenian manuscripts and the Ethiopian, have a strange and highly debated connection. Their scripts, although linguistically distant, have an apparent superficial resemblance – they even share several characters.

The countries and their languages grew independently of each other, separated by over two-thousand miles of land and sea. Many people propose that the script for the Ethiopian language Ge’ez, called Fidäl, came much earlier than the current Armenian script, and even more have built theories about how the relationship between the two came to be. One of the most popular theories is based in the countries’ long history of Christianity: Armenia was the very first Christian nation, made official in 301 AD, and Ethiopia quickly became the second in 316 AD.

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Happy 103rd birthday, Walter L. Gordon, Jr.!

June 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

On Monday, June 20, the UCLA Library hosted a celebration of Walter L. Gordon, Jr.’s 103rd birthday, and his long, productive life as an attorney, civic leader, and historian.

Walter L. Gordon, Jr. & Judge William C. Beverly, Jr.

We also took the occasion to honor Judge William C. Beverly, Jr., who graciously donated the legacy of Mr. Gordon’s many years of collecting historical photographs documenting life in Los Angeles: the Walter L. Gordon, Jr./William C. Beverly, Jr. digital collection. You can find our earlier post about this collection here.

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Central Avenue By Way of Santa Monica: A Glimpse at L.A.’s Early Twentieth Century History

June 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Frederick Roberts in Los Angeles, 1930s

Frederick Roberts, the first African American elected to the California Assembly, represented a district that was 70% white from 1918 to 1934 when he was defeated by the New Dealer, a young man named Augustus Hawkins. The Roberts family owned a mortuary in which Frederick was employed; he was also the publisher of the New Age newspaper. The City of Los Angeles named a park after him.

The Walter L. Gordon, Jr./William C. Beverly, Jr. digital collection represents the approximately 800 photographs housed in UCLA Library Special Collections. The photographs and their digital representations are an extraordinary example of one man’s diligence in creating a record of his stratum of the Los Angeles African American community from about WWI through the 1960s. African American attorney, Walter L. Gordon, Jr. was born in 1908 in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica to educated parents. By 1936, he had established his law practice; he retired in 2004, after nearly seventy years practicing law.

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Books of Hours

June 9th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Middle Ages’ Most Popular Book

From a Middle Dutch Book of Hours

In the Middle Ages, Europeans became interested in taking on the routines of the Catholic clergy so that they would be closer to God, and this desire spawned what would be the most popular book of the Middle Ages – the Book of Hours. The Book of Hours was a private prayer book that allowed laypeople to structure their days around hours of prayer, in reflection of monastic life. Only the wealthy were able to afford a Book of Hours – and the truly wealthy were able to afford extraordinarily lavish ones. In the most common Books of Hours, embellishment was typically reserved for capital letters on the initial pages of psalms and prayers. As the price of the book rose, the decoration became more extravagant: simple borders were expanded into miniature scenes wrapped in painted flowers; letters were filled with ornamentation so intricate that it was often done with a pin. Many books were painstakingly gold leafed, sometimes to the point of gilded letters within the body of the text. » Read the rest of this entry «


June 7th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

The UCLA Library will be adopting the Islandora software framework for digital asset management and hosting. Islandora combines two widely used open software applications, Fedora and Drupal, for the repository layer and discovery layer respectively, along with a number of other open source components to create highly modular and standards-based environments. One of the principal attractions of the Islandora framework is that it builds on the strengths of robust open source solutions with large user bases and tested track records.

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