The Scholarly Side of Mad Men

If you’re a fan of the AMC television series Mad Men, you’re probably anxiously awaiting the season premiere, coming up this Sunday.  Mad Men isn’t just a television show, though – it’s also a great excuse to do a little independent historical research and gain a deeper, more scholarly understanding of America in the 1960s.

One of the reasons the show is so compelling is that the writers and producers pay very close attention to historical detail, and they often incorporate references to real-life events into the fictional characters’ lives. For example, you might remember the Drapers’ maid Carla listening to a radio broadcast of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s eulogy for four young girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham bombing, or Pete Campbell’s father dying in the American Airlines Flight 1 crash of 1962.  So over the next few days, why not indulge your Mad Men madness by immersing yourself in the 1960s?  The Weinberg Memorial Library can help!

  • If you want more information about a historical reference made on the show, you might want to use our e-book version of The Historical Dictionary of the 1960s (edited by James S. Olson) to fill in the holes.  And you can also use our Credo Reference tool to search for encyclopedia or dictionary entries about any historical event.
  • To get a feel for 1960s print advertising, try browsing through the Historical New York Times – the Library’s subscription means that University community members can access this database for free.  You can also find digitized 1960s issues of Life Magazine online, courtesy of Google Books.
  • For insight into Betty Draper’s life as a desperate housewife, you’ll definitely want to read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.  If you’re more interested in the working girl characters of Peggy Olson or Joan Holloway, request Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl via PALCI E-Z Borrow for a glimpse at 1960s-style dating.
  • Richard Yates’ novel Revolutionary Road is a famous portrayal of marriage in the 1950s, which might help you understand why the characters struggle to deal with the changing expectations of the 1960s.
  • Season 4 will take place starting in November of 1964 – the month that Lyndon B. Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in the presidential election.  The Weinberg Memorial Library has several books about Johnson’s presidency that you can browse – and you might find Theodore White’s The Making of the President, 1964 worth a read.
  • The Library also has copies of several books that Mad Men characters have mentioned (or have been seen reading) over the past three seasons – like Frank O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency, Leon Uris’s Exodus, David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Mary McCarthy’s The Group.
  • If you need to catch up on Seasons 1, 2, or 3, you can borrow the DVDs from our colleagues over at the Albright Memorial Library.

If you’re looking to do more in-depth research on the 1960s, you’ll definitely want to visit our collection of history-related scholarly databases.  And don’t forget, if you need help, you can always ask a librarian.  Happy viewing!

Wolfram | Alpha

By now Wolfram|Alpha might already be old news, but just in case you haven’t heard about it, you should really check it out…

Caffeine Vs. AspirinWolfram|Alpha is set-up to look like a Search Engine similar to Google, but it is actually a “computation machine.”

This resource is a good tool for finding statistics, socio-economic data, information on a date, figuring out equations, and has data on specific locations.

You’ll see on their Examples by Topic page that Wolfram|Alpha could be useful for the following Subjects — Math, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Education, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Engineering, Geography, and a lot more.

Just to get a feel for it, I suggest plugging in your Birthday to see what you get, then try doing a comparison, for example: Scranton, PA vs. Philadelphia, PA.

I’m sure you’ll at least find it to be interesting. Those of you who work with numbers, facts, and data might find this “computation machine” to be downright awesome.

Stay Alert! Keeping Your Research Up-to-Date


Our next Technology on Your Own Terms workshop is coming up on Thursday, October 29, from 11:30am – 12:30pm in WML room 306. If you are a University faculty or staff member doing research–this workshop is for you.

In “Stay Alert! Keeping Your Research Up-to-Date,” Bonnie Oldham will explain how to set up e-mail alerts and use Rss Feeds to gather scholarly information.

Seats are limited, so be sure to register (under Special Events).

Is it Peer Reviewed?

Articles in journals that are peer reviewed or refereed are reviewed by experts in the subject area in addition to being edited by the publishers.  Because this is the highest level of scholarship, many assignments require peer reviewed sources. Ulrichsweb, found on the Library’s A-Z List of Databases,  is a good way to identify peer reviewed journals.

You can search by keyword or title.

search by title or keyword

Searching for the keyword adolescence resulted in a list of titles.  The legend indicates peer reviewed or “refereed” titles with a column in front of the title.

Ulrichs legend

titles that are peer reviewed

Clicking on a title gives you more information about that journal.  There are also links to Serials Solution and to the library’s catalog.  In addition to finding out if a journal is peer reviewed, you can use Ulrichsweb as a database by searching for a keyword or subject and using the Serials Solution link to get the fulltext of articles in other databases.

links to Serials Solution and the Library's catalog

Serials Solution

Questions?  Ask-a-Librarian.

Introducing the Library Research Guides Wiki

ResearchGuidesWiki The Weinberg Memorial Library is proud to announce a new collaborative project this fall –  the University of Scranton Library Research Guides!

The Research Guides basically act as a starting point, where students and other researchers can find useful resources in their discipline.  We’re using the Guides as a “home” to bring together helpful databases, reference books, e-books, and web resources for each subject.  While we’re focusing on traditional academic disciplines, we’re also creating Research Guides for interdisciplinary issues like Sustainability and New Technology.

The best thing about the Research Guides, though, is that they’re in wiki format (like Wikipedia) – which means that anyone can contribute links or references they find useful in their work.  It also means that the Research Guides are fluid.  Unlike static web pages, they will change and adapt over time as contributors add, update, and reorganize resources.

We’d like to invite all members of the University of Scranton community to view, edit, and improve our Research Guides.  If you’re new to wiki editing, take a minute to visit our Getting Started page.  Let us know if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.  We’re looking forward to collaborating with you!

Faculty Scholarship Month

The Faculty Scholarship Exhibit is now open at the Weinberg Memorial Library Heritage Room, on the 5th floor of the library, through the end of May. If you think you had a difficult time with your recent paper, (you did finish that paper, right?!) just think about what the faculty have to go through. After a thorough review of the literature, and months of research, faculty face that blank page the same as you, but their profession is on the line. Faculty submit carefully researched and written papers to a panel of colleagues at selected academic or scholarly journals, or publishing houses. These “readers” carefully scour the articles for any errors, in research, or in grammar. They send articles back for corrections, or in some cases, totally reject the papers. After lots of hard work, it can be a very frustrating experience to have your work rejected. Faculty then make the corrections and resubmit their papers, and hopefully the paper will be published in a forthcoming edition. Sometimes the papers are again corrected and returned for more editing. It can be a time consuming experience. The successes of the past few years are on display! Come take a look and congratulate your favorite faculty author. See you in the Heritage Room!

Three Cheers for our new Catalog!

The University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library is proud to present…


Our new catalog!!

Okay, technically it’s not really a new catalog – our Library catalog still includes all of the books, e-books, videos, and periodicals you know and love.  But it does have a shiny new interface that we hope will make it easier for our students and faculty to discover new resources.

New features of the catalog include…

  • A Tag Cloud that you can use to find resources on similar topics (you can even add your own tags if you like!)
  • A “Refine By…” tool to help you narrow down your search results to exactly what you need for your research
  • An “Articles and More” tool that will help you extend your search to find articles from some of our databases
  • A “Recently Added” box to show you what’s new on any given topic

Interested? Try out a search by going to the Library’s homepage.  Type in the box, and hit the big orange arrow.


Don’t like what you see? You can still use the “classic” catalog interface – just look under the Library Catalogs menu and click on the first link for Our Classic Catalog.

Did you know?

The Weinberg Memorial Library has several Dell and Gateway laptops that University of Scranton students can borrow, for free!  You can check out a laptop at the Circulation desk and use it anywhere in the Library, for up to three hours.  All you need is your Royal Card.


Circulation coordinator Pat Savitts gave me a few pointers for laptop borrowers:

  • If your three hours are up and you haven’t finished your work, you can call down to the Circulation desk from your cell phone to renew your loan – as long as no other students are waiting for a laptop.
  • Don’t leave your borrowed laptop unattended.  If you need to step away from it, ask a friend to keep an eye on it for you.
  • Be prepared to either save your work to a flash drive or email it to yourself.  To protect your privacy, your files will be automatically deleted when you shut down the laptop.
  • Our laptops aren’t connected to the UniPrint system, so if you need to print your work, either save it to a flash drive or email it to yourself, and then use one of the computers in the Pro Deo room or the second floor computer lab (or any other computer lab on campus) to print.

Happy borrowing… and don’t forget to vote today!

Need Journal Articles from 1865?

Then JSTOR is a database you want to try.

If you are looking for journal articles from as far back as 1865, this database will provide them for you, and in .PDF full-text format too. Here’s how you would run a search for your topic, in order to find articles about that topic, which were written in bygone days:

  • Select JSTOR on our A-Z List of Databases.
  • The way to narrow your search to find journal articles from a specific time period is to place a check-mark in the box next to “Article” under “Limit To: Type:” and then to put the range of years you are looking for in the “Limit To: Date Range:” fields. So, for example, if I want journal articles on my topic from the years 1865-1940, I will check off “Articles” and then put “From: 1865” and “To: 1940.”
  • Then, type your search topic into the Advanced Search field at the top of the page. Keep in mind that your topic may have been called by a different name back in the 1800s!
  • Then click “Search,” look for article titles that cover what you need, click into them to read the abstracts (summaries) as needed, and select the .PDF option for viewing, printing and saving the articles for your research.

Remember, if you’re working from home or your dorm, make sure you first sign into, and then select “A-Z Database Listing” from inside the Library tab. This way, when you eventually get to JSTOR, the database will recognize you as a student, and it will let you access the full-text .PDF of the articles you need.

Ever wonder what was being written about, say, librarians, in the late 1800s-early 1900s? Go give the search a try to find out!* There is one very interesting article from 1929 about a study of ways that librarians cultivated “wholesome reading interests” back then (“Methods Employed to Stimulate Interests in Reading. I” by William F. Rasche, from The School Review, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Jan., 1929), pp. 29-36) — very interesting indeed.

*So, okay, I know most of you probably don’t care about librarians and our fascinating history as public figures in the community… Ahem. But! Whatever your research interest is (for instance, I know there’s an assignment going around about researching the same social issue in 3 different historical time periods) JSTOR is a great place to start in your search for old journal articles on the topic.