Happy Birthday, Pluto!

pluto numbers

On February 18th, Pluto turns 89 years old- well, the discovery of Pluto anyway! This controversial planet/not planet/dwarf planet was discovered in our very own backyard, in Flagstaff, Arizona at the Lowell Observatory. A young, 23-year-old Clyde Tombaugh discovered the small planet 14 years after Percival Lowell passed away- Lowell working desperately to discover ‘Planet X’. The method in which Tombaugh spotted the planet is fascinating and can be read about here.



Tombaugh was originally from Streator, Illinois, but graduated with his bachelor and master’s degrees in astronomy from the University of Kansas- but not until 8 years AFTER his discovery! Tombaugh is credited for discovering numerous asteroids as well. Four years before the discovery, he was building homemade telescopes in his parents’ farm field. He began working at the Lowell Observatory after he sent them drawings of Jupiter and Mars. After graduating from Kansas, he returned to Arizona where he taught naval navigation at Northern Arizona University during World War II. He retired from New Mexico State University in 1973 where he taught astronomy.


pluto harvardThe discovery was exciting news, especially during the Great Depression. News made its way around the world, with telegrams being sent from observatory to observatory, news outlet to news outlet.


pluto letter


The name Pluto was chosen after a competition was created seeking suggestions. The winner would win about $480 USD (in today’s dollars). Lowell Observatory received over 1,000 suggestions, but 11-year-old Venetia Burney from Oxford, England would win with her suggestion of Pluto.




pluto vebtia


The discovery was a proud moment for Arizona and arguably helped solidify Arizona and its Universities as players in the space race, astronomy, and geosciences.

Want more?

If you are interested in diving a little deeper into Pluto’s discovery, the Lowell Observatory, or astronomy in general, check out the two collections on the Arizona Memory Project created by the Lowell Observatory (a third is in the works!).


pluto researchWe also have a Research Topic page with additional links: Discovering Pluto at Lowell Observatory, which is in the process of being updated.


pluto gale

Our Gale Science in Context database also has several resources on Pluto and other planets.


pluto observatory


On Reading Arizona, our free online e-book library, you can find the book “Observatories of the Southwest“, which includes information about major observatories of the region, including Arizona’s Kitt Peak National Observatory and Lowell Observatory.




pluto booksAnd our Arizona Collection and State Publications have SEVERAL University of Arizona Press books about Pluto, which can be viewed in our Reading Room or requested via interlibrary loan from your local public library.

And we even have a book by Tombaugh himself: Out of the Darkness, the Planet Pluto.


Happy birthday, Pluto!

And happy researching!


Rainy Day Coloring and Activity Books

Need some quick coloring activity books for a rainy day?  Our state and federal government agencies put together resources for children (and the young at heart!) that can be downloaded and printed quickly and are educational as well as fun.  You can search our catalog for many of these.

To do this, go to our catalog and search for “coloring book” or “activity book”.  You will get different results for each term, so make sure you search for both!  On the left, under Format, select online resources- this will give you all of the items that can be downloaded via a link in the catalog so that you can print a copy to color.

Here are some to get you started!

From the Secretary of State’s Office, SoS for Kids, a coloring book about Arizona.

Color book sos


From the Arizona Department of Transportation, Be Aware and Care, an activity book about travel and highway safety.color book adot


From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wetlands, a coloring book about wetlands and the animals that inhabit wetlands.

color us game


From the Environmental Protection Agency, Carl Gets Some Rest, a coloring book about pollution and using public transportation.

color book epa

And from NASA, To Space & Back: How We Can All Use NASA’s Tools, a coloring book about products that were developed for the space program that are being used to make life on earth better.

color book nasa


You can find dozens more Federally published coloring books by going to the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.  Select Electronic Titles under “Catalogs” and then search for “coloring books”.

Enjoy coloring and learning something interesting along the way!

Cinderella minus her prince…


One of the great things about packing our collections for the move is that we’re getting a chance to go through everything. We have a lot of stuff. Aside from the million or so books, we also have puzzles, kits, posters, and games. If it was published by the State of Arizona or the Federal Government in the last 100 + years, we probably have it around here somewhere. Some of the older stuff can be pretty dated, but it’s part of our government’s history, and our role at the Research Library is to preserve that history, make it accessible, and learn from it.

With that in mind, we found this training game in our State Documents collection: Cinderella Minus the Prince: The Displaced Homemaker.


It was developed in 1980 by The Project for Homemakers in Arizona Seeking Employment (PHASE) and the University of Arizona, with a grant from the Arizona Department of Education. The objectives, as stated in the instructions, are:

  1. To heighten the awareness of the needs and concerns of displaced homemakers; and
  2. To become aware of the intense feelings and sometimes desperate concerns of the displaced homemakers.

Here is the basic premise of the game: players each adopt a persona of a “displaced homemaker” — which is a recently divorced or widowed woman.  The personas are very specific — detailing age, race, and health, as well as the number of children each has. Each persona is assigned a number of points.


The game progresses as the displaced homemakers gain support from a variety of resources by attending community college, seeking counseling,  or receiving assistance from family, religious organizations, women’s groups, and employment agencies. The players progress around a room, stopping at each of these service providers and drawing a card.


One of the key takeaways of this exercise is that the resources that are supposed to exist to support these women do not always come through. As often as these cards state a positive outcome and increase the player’s points, they may also throw up a roadblock and take points away.


The point of this game is apparently not to make displaced homemakers aware of services, but to educate those who might be providing the services. Preparing people to re-enter the workplace after a long gap in employment is an important job, and understanding the specific fears and frustrations of displaced homemakers can only smooth the process.

Although this game is nearly 40 years old, after reviewing its contents, it’s obvious that the challenges facing displaced homemakers have not changed.  And neither has their need for support and services. That Arizona State Department of Economic Security has a webpage for “dislocated workers” and the Arizona Job Connection has a portal that includes resources for training and education.

And libraries are another resource for displaced homemakers. During the Great Recession, job help hubs began appearing in public libraries across the country. Libraries offer technology classes, resume writing workshops, and education tools. The Digital Arizona Library offers a number of these tools online, including Career Transitions, Learning Express Library, and the  Testing and Educational Reference Center.

And don’t forget, libraries still provide free books too.


Arizona Blue Book

The Arizona Blue Book, or some version of it, has been published roughly annually since the territorial days of Arizona. These were published by the Secretary of Arizona, both Territorial and State. The purpose was to create an almanac or directory of sorts that included information about legislators, judges, and other government officials. It also contained information about Arizona’s indigenous tribes and nations, Arizona’s counties, cities and towns, state symbols, and information on elections. Some issues even contained the state constitution. Early issues also contained a business directory for the city of Phoenix.

blue book1



If you are looking for the Arizona Blue Book, you can find the Territorial versions on the Arizona Memory Project, which currently includes the 1894, 1905, and 1911 copies. Before being known as the Blue Book, it was also called The Official Register.






blue book2


More current Arizona Blue Books can be found here on the Arizona Memory Project. The most recent print issue that was published and is in our physical collection is from 2008. For copies not on the Arizona Memory Project, come visit us in the Reading Room at the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building!