Category Archives: Dissertation Process

“Thanks Obama!” – FRUS and Digital Collections

Two days ago I posted about the Larreta Doctrine and its repercussions for Latin America. In that post I used a document from the Foreign Relations of the United States, which I obtained through the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. Foreign Relations of the United States, or FRUS as it is commonly abbreviated, is not necessarily a difficult document to find, nearly every research library will hold copies, but it is voluminous, which can make it difficult when researching a specific topic. Besides FRUS, the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections also hold many other federal as well as Wisconsin specific documents.

You can also access FRUS through the Office of the Historian of the U.S. Department of State. When I first attempted to access the site this morning they were apparently experiencing some technical difficulties and I was greeted by the following image:

Screenshot 2014-12-12 at 8.47.50 AM

The site is working now, but in true internet fashion I have to thank our current president for my problems.

FRUS is an excellent resource for anyone curious about the international history of the United States. It contains documents from many of the U.S. government’s overseas agencies and departments, as well as the personal communications of the diplomats and policy makers. It is available for free to the public through both the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and the Office of the Historian of the Department of State.

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Microfilm Will Steal Your Sanity, So Listen to Podcasts.

Over the past few months I have been working through the North American Congress on Latin America’s (NACLA) rather large collection of microfilm on the Nicaraguan Revolution. The collection is held on twenty rolls of microfilm with at least 1,000 pages on each roll, which translates to roughly 20,000 individual pages of documents. Luckily my department has a digital microfilm machine, as opposed to the difficult analog models, but going through such a large microfilm collection can be a very tedious task. Too keep me from losing my mind during this process I have been listening to a number of podcasts.

The first, and in my humble opinion foremost, of these is Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, which is a weekly podcast featuring such popular comedians as Paul F. Tompkins, Nick Kroll, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. The show is beyond absurd as each weeks guests create bizarre characters and improvise hilarious encounters. Below is this weeks episode, which had me laughing out loud in the library yesterday. If you like strange Irish women and robotic dogs I would recommend taking a listen.

When I have run out of episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! I often turn to How Did This Get Made?, a podcast in which comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas (also a regular on Comedy Bang! Bang!) rib one terrible movies they have watched. If you liked MST3K but thought that it could use more profanity this is the show for you.

These two shows are my staples, with a little music mixed in. They have helped me get through hundreds of pages of documents with my mind intact, and hopefully they will get me through hundreds more.

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