December 13th, 2007

we can't teach what we don't know
  • uu_mom

Dec. 16, history, and the world wide web

So I understand Dec. 16 is Beethoven's birthday and worthy of a topic for the 22nd Carnival of Maryland, which is coming out that day. Did you know it's also the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which took place on December 16, 1773?! And in Prince George's County what happened that day?

The Patuxent Research Refuge, an area of 2,679.15 acres, was established by President Roosevelt on December 16, 1936. What have they done since? Well they have a large library about water birds and there's even a free online databases about wildlife. Starting Dec. 24, the Visitor Center Building is closed, but the trails and grounds are open normal scheduled days and hours - except for construction required closures. Which reminds me that award-winner Randy Pheobus (pictured in this news story) wants us to know that we're losing some of our song birds due to a loss of grassland habitats.

The first African American woman appointed to the District Court for Prince George's County was born on Dec. 16, 1957 and today she's the 7th Judicial Circuit Associate Judge.

As I was looking for Dec. 16 historic events in Prince George's Co., I found a new internet tool. Google now has a news archives. Here's the items for Dec. 16 prior to 1970. I'm not sure there's anything interesting there, but apparently one has to pay to get any details.

There's also a database at the public library and a lot of history on the Maryland Archives, but nothing else interesting about Dec. 16. I look forward to the day when I can find significant events for every day in every year on the internet...FREE! As Tim Berners Lee, the creator of the world wide web intended it.

YOU CAN HELP MAKE THAT A REALITY! As the internet volunteer for the Prince George's County Historical Society, we're trying to get more information online, but I don't have time to do it all. The work needs no special software and just very basic technical skills (only Microsoft Word and a web browser with an internet connection). Here are some of the things you could help with:

1) We have documents of old newsletters that need to be formatted for the web - basically, a copy-and-paste job and naming the Word documents according to the year and listing it.

2) We have events all the time in Prince George's Co. to learn about history, but there is no one place to find out about them. We need a volunteer to put them on the web calendar, which as you can see is now empty due to a lack of help (except an event that is there erroneously, because I think it's now over). If you look back in history on that calendar (Dec. 2006), though, to a time when we did have a volunteer, you can see many events every day and Dec. 2005.

3) We also have things to scan from the The Frederick S. DeMarr Library of County History so that we can put it on the web and we have some items that have been scanned into images that have to be run through an OCR to turn them back into test that search engines can index to make the information easier to find.


* Feel good that you've helped people learn (see the statistics from the present historical society site - well over 500 users per week) but currently not finding everything they're looking for.

* Learn new internet skills (I'd be happy to give you instructions on how to do this)

* Add it to your resume

* If you're a student in a school that requires community service credits, you can get those, too

* Learn some interesting history that's never before been seen on the internet

* Get a letter of recommendation that might help you get an award (a past volunteer was awarded a national honor in part from the work he did to volunteer on the internet from a letter I wrote for him)

* It can be added to your obituary of the list of great things you did in your life and become part of the great cycle of history.

Interested? Contact Joyce at webmaster at with subject: Volunteer Query (or something obvious so it doesn't get lost in my spam) or call 301-782-9922. PASS IT ON!


See Prince George's County Newsvine here

See the latest county blogger posts here.