Boston Public Library

Commemorating the Stamp Act Sestercentennial

1765_one_penny_stampThe sestercentennial (250th anniversary) of the first Boston Stamp Act riot took place on August 14, 2015.  I commemorated the event by releasing a bonus episode of Ben Franklin's World about the Stamp Act and the Boston riots and by hosting the first ever Ben Franklin's World Listener Meet-up. The meet-up consisted of a two-hour walking tour of Boston that focused on the Stamp Act riots and the role Boston played in the American Revolution.

I wrote the tour and offered it through Boston By Foot, an organization of volunteers who lead history and architecture walking tours of Boston.

Thirty-eight people took the tour, about twenty people heard about it through the podcast.

Stamp Act Tour CollageThe tour began in front of the Massachusetts State House and from there stopped by the Granary Burying Ground (we had to stop and say "hello" to John Hancock, Samuel Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, and Robert Treat Paine), King's ChapelOld South Meeting House, the building that marks the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin, the Old State House and Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, the Blackstone Block (the only street in Boston that resembles a colonial Boston street), Paul Revere House, the Thomas Hutchinson house site, Old North Church, and Copp's Hill Burying Ground (where we looked at and discussed Bunker Hill).

We had hot, muggy weather, but we enjoyed the day. After the tour six of us repaired to a pizzeria in the North End and had lunch.

Most of the listeners who came for the meet-up hailed from New England or New York. One listener dove up from Baltimore and used the meet-up as an excuse to visit Boston, the We Are One exhibit at the Boston Public Library, Boston's Haymarket, and Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts--all locations I have featured on Ben Franklin's World.

Ben Franklin's World Listener Meet-up

One of the most rewarding experiences of podcasting has been connecting with history lovers like the ones who came on my tour. This past spring and summer I have received tweets and e-mails from listeners telling me that they have visited the Library Company of Philadelphia, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, the Wayside Inn, and Boston as a result of hearing about these places on Ben Franklin's World. My listeners are also buying books and attending lectures given by guest historians.

Ben Franklin's Birthplace

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Getting Access: Big City Public Libraries

library-cloudWelcome to Getting Access, a series devoted to helping you obtain the digital records you need.

Big City Public Libraries

Many big city public libraries have subscriptions to some of the same, expensive research databases as big university libraries.

The Boston Public Library has a fantastic collection of databases. They subscribe to America’s Historical Newspapers (1690-1922), 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, Early American Imprints Series I (Evans) & II (Shaw-Shoemaker), J-Stor, and the Oxford English Dictionary, just to name a few.

As a library cardholder I can access these collections from my home computer. Chances are you can too.

The Boston Public Library is not the only public library to subscribe to these invaluable databases. A quick search revealed that the New York Public Library and the Los Angeles Public Library also subscribe to these and other databases.


BostonAccess Beyond Big Cities

The best part about big city public libraries: You don’t have to live in a big city to make use of their electronic resources. The Boston Public Library, the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library will issue a library card to anyone who resides in their respective states.

This means that someone in Albany, New York can access the NYPL databases 150 miles away from New York City and that a resident of Lee, Massachusetts can access the databases of the BPL without having to drive two hours on I-90 East.


Variations in Access

My quick search of major metropolitan areas revealed that not all big city public libraries subscribe to the same databases. The Houston Public Library does not have subscriptions to the above named databases, nor does the St. Louis Public Library.

Additionally, not all libraries allow remote access to the same databases. For example, the Boston Public Library allows library cardholders to access the America's Historical Newspapers database remotely, the New York Public Library does not.

Regardless, it is worth a quick search to find out if the major metropolitan library in your state offers access to databases because chances are that as a state resident you are eligible for a library card.


What Do You Think?

Have you found any helpful ways for remotely accessing digital records or academic journal articles? If so please leave a comment or send me a tweet.