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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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!

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New Arizona Historic Newspapers Now Online!

Two historic Arizona newspapers, the Winslow Mail (Winslow, AZ) and El Mosquito (Tucson, AZ), are now available to the public on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website. The newspapers represent the first 10,000 pages of over 100,000 pages to be digitized through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Winslow MailThe Winslow Mail delivered general news of northern Arizona and the Santa Fe Railway, as well as ranching and agricultural news. It is now available online from 1897 to 1926.

In 1897, John F. Wallace was the editor and publisher. Known fondly as “Uncle Jimmy,” Wallace participated in local politics, and his political interests permeated the Mail. After 1901, the Winslow Mail shifted hands several times. Owners and editors included Lloyd C. Henning from the Holbrook Argus and L.V. Root, a former editor of the Needles Nugget in California. The Winslow Mail was published for 113 years, ceasing operations in 2007.

El Mosquito

 

El Mosquito, was a weekly Spanish-language newspaper helmed by editor and publisher Felipe Hale. It delivered general local news, news from Mexico, and humorous columns to its Tucson, Arizona audience. It was also known for its sharp tongue and lively writing. Its slogan, appearing in its first few years of publication, was “Pica, pero no hace roncha” (“It stings, but it doesn’t leave a mark.”) El Mosquito ran from 1919-1925, the paper’s entire run is available online.

In 2017, the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records received a grant as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program to begin this digitization work. The newspapers will also be available on the Arizona Memory Project website in the near future.

The State of Arizona Research Library is excited to make these historic newspapers digitally available to the public. Look for additional newspaper titles to be available online soon!

Researching the Old Legal Stuff

YaleWe recently purchased The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History, a new resource to help you find historical legal information that is very specialized or pre-dates the information that is readily available online. Some of the resources are digitized, and some only in print. It is available to use in the Reading Room at the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building.

For example, if you are looking for the laws on witchcraft, this source tells you step-by-step how to find them. Witchcraft was originally designated as a felony in the United Kingdom and carried the death penalty. Later revisions passed by Queen Elizabeth I reduced the severity of the penalty if nobody got hurt. This change enabled herbalists to practice their craft. Maybe this was the origin of the No Harm, No Foul standard.

Yale TOC

Later chapters address later eras. Apparently practice manuals were widely used in the Colonial era by justices, officials, and educated citizens. Some states had constitutions that predated the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and this reference has information on both, as well information on how to access statutes and cases from the early days of the Republic. Later chapters explain how the Reporter system for publishing case law was a pioneering innovation, how to do archival research, searching administrative law, and the advent of legal forms.

 

DictionariesAnother chapter discusses how international law and treaties affect U.S. law. Another introduces the use of dictionaries and biographical sources. The book concludes with tips for researching newspapers, statistical resources, and public records.

If you don’t know where to find the historical legal topic you are researching, we may just look here first!

Arizona’s Ever-Changing Constitution

What’s with all these propositions?

Arizona’s Constitution can be amended in 3 ways. The Legislature may vote to put a proposal on the ballot (Referendum). Second, the voters may submit a petition with the required number of signatures (Initiative).  Regardless of the means of getting on the ballot, if a majority votes for the proposition, it becomes law and the Constitution is changed. The 3rd method is for the Legislature to propose a Constitutional Convention. In that case, the voters must approve the Convention and any revisions that the Convention recommends. These routes to change our Constitution make for some vibrant, interactive, and often rowdy election cycles!

At the State of Arizona Research Library we have lots of materials about the Arizona Constitution. You can browse the Minutes or the Records of the Constitutional Convention of 1910.

 

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You can compare the Arizona Constitution with the U.S. Constitution with these publications from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

You can see how the Arizona Constitution has changed over the years at our Constitution Timeline here.

You can study the work of experts who have analyzed the Constitution by viewing these titles (and more) in our Reading Room or borrowing them through your public library via interlibrary loan. The Toni McClory book is also available for free as an ebook through Reading Arizona!

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And you can vote! There are 3 proposed Constitutional amendments on the ballot for the 2018 midterm election on November 6, 2018.  Here’s the publicity pamphlet for this year’s General Election.

Arizona’s Territorial Legislature

Arizona’s Legislature met to debate the issues of the day and pass laws, long before Arizona became a state. The Legislature met in Prescott between 1864 and 1867, and again between 1879 and 1889. In between they met in Tucson, before settling in to Phoenix in 1891 to stay.

We have copies of the enacted laws (“Session Laws”) passed by the Territorial Legislature dating from 1864 until Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912. We were the “Valentine to the Nation”. We also have copies of the Session Laws passed since Statehood, which you can research in print in our Reading Room or browse online on the Arizona Memory Project here.

Session LawsWe think it’s vital to preserve these irreplaceable materials. We keep a print copy that is accessible to users. We also make digital copies of everything we can, and post them online so people can access them from anywhere there is an internet connection. We set aside a good-quality preservation copy of each document. Then we select multiple duplicates whenever possible to use as replacements for the accessible copies. We keep the preservation copies and the duplicate replacement copies in separate climate-controlled spaces to assure that the information in them will not be lost.

These may not be things to curl up on a comfy couch and read. But preserving them is just one of the many things we do here at the State of Arizona Research Library.

If you wish to come see the Session Laws or any other historic or current law material in person, stop by the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building at 1901 W. Madison Street, Phoenix any Monday through Friday (except state holidays).

Research tip: Societies and Organizations

Societies and organizations can provide a clue to city life for both sociological and biographical researchers. Membership in the Elks, Masons, International Order of Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World and similar societies can help genealogists make sense of their ancestors’ after-hours activities.

In this case, the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner published a report of a Chautauqua group meeting in Prescott.  Chautauqua meetings were part of a national system of adult education featuring lectures, musical performers, and religious preachers. It had both local chapters and a tent-show circuit. Prescott’s appears to be a local, or “daughter,”  chapter.

Chautauquans 7-25-1888
Arizona Weekly Journal Miner : July 25, 1885

 

Researching property history in Arizona, Part 4: Plat Maps

(This is Part 4 of a series written by Research Library team member Chris Seggerman. Read Part 1. Read Part 2. Read Part 3.)

What does a neighborhood look like before it exists? How do blank square-mile sections fill with ordered rows of streets and houses? How does a developer sell that plan to investors or request development rights from the city and county for that neighborhood? Before the first shovel broke ground to build your neighborhood, those who planned it used a plat map.

Plat maps are filed by book and page number at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. The originals eventually pass to the State Archives. You can view unofficial copies of the maps here*.

This website wants you to enter the book and page number. That information can be found on a deed. The Maricopa County Assessor’s office also has links to this information on their parcel viewer.

Plat map example
(Image credit: C. Seggerman photograph of the original map located at the Arizona State Archives)

Historic plat maps are also interesting from aesthetic perspective. They predate computer-aided drafting, and some are practically works of art. They provide direct clues how a neighborhood used to look. The plat map for the Capitol Addition—Book 1, page 62– shows Tract A set aside for the site of the State Capitol, and other details. It shows the Valley Street Railway Company’s route down Washington Street. It also shows that several streets have changed name: Bingham became Monroe, Franklin became Adams, and Johnstone became Jefferson. It also shows that lots surrounding the capitol are small and narrow—a detail visible in slightly later aerial photos of the area.

Plat map example
(Image credit: C. Seggerman photograph of the original map located at the Arizona State Archives)

Some neighborhoods are platted by corporations. Other early plats show groups or individuals who gave neighborhoods now forgotten names. Simm’s Addition, registered with the County Recorder by James T. Simms in 1893, sits between Central and Third Avenue, just south of Interstate 10. Two of its streets, Westmoreland and Portland have parks in the middle of their streets, but only Portland remains. Westmoreland is now occupied by the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Irish Cultural Center, near the park. Interested researchers could construct the layout of the many neighborhoods sacrificed to Interstate 10 using plat maps alone.

You can also find development details you might not have thought about. For example, the area around Scatter Wash, where I walked home from high school, is a drainage easement. I grew up in terror that Scatter Wash might eventually be developed instead of remaining full of trees, bike ramps, and winding footpaths. The plat map explains “…no structure of any kind be constructed or any vegetation be planted nor allowed to grow within the drainage easements which would impede the flow of water over, under, or through the easements. The City of Phoenix may, if it so desires, construct and/or maintain drainage facilities on or under the land in the easements.”

That did not stop the City of Phoenix from clearing some vegetation and slightly reshaping the wash in the late 1990s, but the plat map explains that area will probably always remain undeveloped.

*If the electronic copy of the plat map at the County Recorder’s website is difficult to read, you can see the early originals at the State Archives or at the Recorder’s office.