Thursday, March 31, 2011

Daghter*, etc. (for Daughter*)

Yesterday's blog posting mentioned the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights group in the United States, and its house organ, The Ladder. The Daughters of Bilitis was founded in San Francisco in 1955 as a sort of adjunct to the Mattachine Society and was originally intended as a social club and alternative to the bar scene. Gay bars were illegal in the 1950s and were frequently raided by the police. The Daughters of Bilitis (almost unimaginably closeted at first) grew more political as time went on, becoming an effective organizing tool for activists in the Homophile Movement (as it was then called). The organization lasted for fourteen years, right up until the Stonewall riots, which mark the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. We found the following typos in OhioLINK for daughter*: Daguhter* once and Daghter*, Duaghter*, and Daugter* twice.

(The Ladder, May 1966, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lorain* + Lorrain* (for Lorrain* or Lorain*)

Lorraine Hansberry was an African-American playwright known almost exclusively for the play A Raisin in the Sun. Born in 1930, Hansberry grew up in a housing project on the South Side of Chicago and based her play on her family's legal struggles against the segregated housing laws in effect at that time. Hansberry died at the age of 34, but her short life was filled with eager promise and progressive attitudes. She dropped out of college in Madison, Wisconsin, to move to New York City and attend the New School for Social Research. She wrote many political essays and articles and was on the staff of the black newspaper Freedom, along with Paul Robeson. She also worked with W. E. B. DuBois. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway and Hansberry was the youngest African-American playwright and fifth woman ever to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. At a time when few people had the courage or understanding to do so, Hansberry actively addressed issues like Africa, abortion, and various forms of discrimination, even going so far as to join the lesbian rights group the Daughters of Bilitis and writing letters in 1957 to their magazine, The Ladder, on topics such as feminism and homophobia. Her play The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window also opened on Broadway and closed on the night she died. According to James Baldwin: "It is not at all farfetched to suspect that what she saw contributed to the strain which killed her, for the effort to which Lorraine was dedicated is more than enough to kill a man." We found 28 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK (a few of which were cases of two different people, or variant spellings within one record), and 214 times in WorldCat.

(Lorraine Hansberry, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Devestat* (for Devastat*)

Just four days after the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire, there was another devastating conflagration in the state of New York, this time at the Capitol building in downtown Albany. The fire destroyed virtually the entire holdings of the New York State Library, which ironically was only several months away from its planned move to a more secure setting in the new State Education Building across the street. Melvil Dewey had been urging a speedy relocation for some time, but upon receiving the awful news, he refrained from any righteous indignation, writing instead (in the simplified spelling style that he favored) to the library's director, James I. Wyer, on April 11: "...The bilding which is only the shell may burn, the books which were our tools may burn, but the chief thing, the spirit and influence of the State Library and the Library School, you cannot burn or drown or down. As wide as civilization bilds libraries, the influence of our library has reacht and will reach and no disaster can be more than a temporary interruption of its good work. I know in advance that you will find the old staff pure gold in this time of trial. If necessary they will work in water to the knees and live on crackers and cheese..." A crackerjack book has just been published by the new staff of the New York State Library, chronicling this terrible chapter in our institutional history. It's called The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911. There were 19 occurrences of today's typo in OhioLINK and 125 in WorldCat.

(Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy of the New York State Library's Manuscripts & Special Collections and the New York State History blog.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 28, 2011

Typwrit* (for Typewrit*)

I tend to get a little frisson whenever I spot a new typo; however, I don't often start imagining how I might accessorize with it. These TypoS are different, though, and I simply couldn't resist buying myself a pair after spotting them in a museum gift shop the other day. (I guess I'll have to go to the mall now and get my ear lobes re-punctured ... but then I'll get to wear punctuation marks in them, so how cool is that?) My personal photographer took this picture of a vintage typewriter he's lucky enough to own, along with my own brand-new lucky earrings—which are actually made from vintage typewriters! (Please note also the amazing fact that the keys on either side of the word TypoS spell out the typo TYOP.) We located three cases of Typwrit* (for typewrit*) in the OhioLINK database, along with 338 in WorldCat, so let's all take a moment today to "tie up" this typo in our own catalogs as well.

Carol Reid

Friday, March 25, 2011

Traingle* (for Triangle*)

Today marks the sad centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, in which 146 garment workers, mainly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, perished by either burning or leaping from upper-story windows. It was, as a display set up near my office says, "all over in half an hour." The factory bosses had locked the doors and exits from the outside in order to prevent stealing or the taking of unauthorized breaks, making emergency escape nearly impossible. This ghastly event, witnessed by scores of horrified onlookers, led to meaningful improvements in sweatshop conditions and significant reforms in industrial health and safety guarantees. It radicalized many workers and observers and increased support for the fledgling International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. It also prompted the Factory Investigating Commission of New York State. Frances Perkins, FDR's labor secretary, called March 25, 1911, "the day the New Deal began." Joan Walsh has written an article on Salon today underscoring the beneficent role played in the aftermath of this tragedy by Assemblyman Al Smith, who would later become the governor of New York. There were seven instances of Traingle* (for triangle*) in OhioLINK today, and 74 in WorldCat.

(People and horses draped in black walk in procession in memory of the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, New York City, 1911, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vicent (for Vincent)

Edna St. Vincent Millay received her lilting-sounding middle name by virtue of the fact that her uncle's life had been saved at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City shortly before she was born. A headstrong and free-thinking child, Millay decided she preferred to be called "Vincent" rather than "Edna"; her grade school principal, however, refused to comply with such an outlandish request, in his view, and stubbornly, if rather whimsically, chose to call her any girl's name he could think of that started with a V instead. "Hey, Vera! Oh, Violet! Come here, Valerie! Vanessa!" What a hoot. I can just picture her standing there stolidly on the playground, with an uncomprehending look on her face. It appears that the Pulitzer Prize winning poet had a predilection for pseudonyms, later employing "Nancy Boyd" for her works of prose. (Just don't call her "Nancy Girl," eh?) We found 16 examples of Vicent (for Vincent) in the OhioLINK database today. We'll call it a V for Victory if you can find some of these typos in your own catalog as well.

(Photo of Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1914, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Suger* + Sugar* (for Sugar* or Suger*)

My cousin and I were in the same seventh-grade social studies class and collaborated one time on a high-sucrose model of Fort Ticonderoga, which we had both been taken to visit with our families in upstate New York. I remember this homework maneuver being fraught with difficulty and supplies running low; at one point, one of our mothers had to rush out to the store for another box of sugar cubes. At the end, it looked like something the British wouldn't have been able to defend—but might have enjoyed putting in their tea. Be a sweetheart and look out for this typo today. We turned up seven cases of Suger* + Sugar* (for sugar* or suger*) in OhioLINK, although a couple of those looked like the correct spelling of two different surnames.

(1875 engraving depicting the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen on May 10, 1775, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tod + Todd (for Tod or Todd)

The other night I decided to take a break from the Edith Wharton essay "French Ways and Their Meaning" (assigned reading for a writing workshop I'm taking) to finally make time to view the 1936 sci-fi thriller The Devil-Doll by Tod Browning. Two tiny thumbs up, especially if you like miniatures. It's where creepy goes to meet cute and, if you know the Browning cult classic Freaks, you'll know the man was a master at precisely that sort of alchemy. He makes the appalling appealing! (I know, I know, that is pretty corny, but then so's the movie. Still, it's rather a thing of beauty in its own way. Wharton writes: "That a thing should be in scale—should be proportioned to its purpose—is one of the first requirements of beauty.") Watch The Devil-Doll if for no other reason than to see Lionel Barrymore in full-on drag—or, if you'd prefer, Rafaela Ottiano, whom TCM host Robert Osborne describes as always looking "as mad as a hatter," adding, "I love Rafaela Ottiano." So do I, although it's hard to fathom why she was never cast as the Bride of Frankenstein, since she totally looks the part! But you can always catch her here, and in 40-odd other old movies as well. Catch today's typo if you can (it was found 30 times in OhioLINK, with just over half being actual typos) and in doing so, shrink your own collection of errors down just a wee bit.

(Film poster for The Devil-Doll, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 21, 2011

Myteri* (for Mysterious, Mysteries)

Ah, sweet Myteri* of life, at last I've found you ... eight times in OhioLINK, that is, and 127 times in WorldCat! (Some of those may be correctly spelled foreign words, but most, I believe, are typos.) According to Gershwin biographer Howard Pollack, Irving Berlin's "That Mysterious Rag"—along with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Everybody's Doin' It Now"—effectively popularized ragtime music for the middle-class white masses. Prior to that, it had been considered such a distinctly black musical genre that it only rarely included lyrics and cover art of other minorities, such as Jews and Italians, where it was an occasion for buffoonery. But this mysterious whitewashing of ragtime a hundred years ago did not go over that well with everyone. Richard Crawford writes: "It would be hard to find another Berlin song with one-syllable words so awkwardly stretched or natural declamation so bent out of shape." And T. S. Eliot satirized the song thusly in his poem The Waste Land:

O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—
It's so elegant
So intelligent....

(Sheet music by Irving Berlin and Ted Snyder, 1911, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interati* (for Internati* and Interacti*)

This week's posts had a more international flavor than I originally planned. They might not have been the most rational collection of ideas, but I hope you found them interesting. I have noticed that when we verify a typo, we often learn that a typo in English is a real word or name in a foreign language, which is why we should be very cautious with global changes.

Today's typo, Interat* is in Section B, high probability in the Ballard list. This is probably because there are many options for the intended word. I found hits that seemed like they were supposed to be Interact* (the typo misses a letter), Iterati* (the typo adds a letter) and Internati* (missing a different letter). You may find others, so I would strongly suggest you interact with your catalog in multiple iterations to find all domestic and international books with this huge typo.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of the world as pictured in 1689 fr0m Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nuculear* (for Nuclear*)

This has been a very sad week for Japan. The tragedy of the great physical devastation by the earthquake and tsunami has been exacerbated by the damage caused to one of the nuclear plants there. Nuclear is, of course, also a frequently mispronounced word, and today's typo, nuculear, is basically a transcription of the most popular mispronunciation (it could also be spelled nucular).

Nuculear* is a very low-probability typo. It only occurs once in OhioLINK (although that is in a subject heading) and 8 times in WorldCat, but given the fact that nuclear energy is on everyone's mind, this is a great time to clean up this small disaster in our catalogs.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant from Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hugary (for Hungary or Sugary)

I just got a new dining table (from the Amish, who relate to yesterday's post) and now I need new tablecloths. I have a friend from Hungary who is a seamstress, and she did a beautiful job making some out of material I bought. We always make fun of her because she spends the winter in Chicago and the summer in Hungary. Until I met her, I didn't know anybody wintered in Chicago!

Today's typo is one that could be for two different, unrelated words, and is, in fact, a valid proper name (though I only found one person with that name). I did find a selection of delicious-looking sugary Hungarian desserts online that I might try some time!

Image of apple strudel, a traditional Hungarian dessert, from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Menonite or Mennonnite (for Mennonite)

I just read a great book called Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. It's about a woman who grew up Mennonite, left and got married, then went back to stay with her parents when her husband left her for a man he met on It was incredibly funny, and I highly recommend it.

There is a lot of confusion about Mennonites, including how to spell their name. They are named after Menno Simons and are an anabaptist movement which started in central Europe in the 16th century. Although they are often confused with the Amish and seen as very traditional, the Amish actually broke off from the Mennonites because they thought the latter were too liberal.

Menonite is a low-probability typo, and Mennonnite is even more rare. The first appears only twice in OhioLINK, and 28 times in WorldCat. You can remember that there should be two n's at the beginning because that is how Menno spelled his name.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of a traditional Mennonite couple from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tme for Time

I hope all of you remembered to spring ahead yesterday, and were on time for work this morning. For some reason, whenever I think of clocks (which is rarely misspelled), I think of the program CLOCKSS (Controlled LOCKSS), which is attempting to build an archive of articles abandoned by their publishers. This is a related program to LOCKSS (Lots of copies keep stuff safe), which maintains currently available materials. As more and more journals become digital-only, it will become even more important to make sure we do not lose access to these valuable pieces of scholarly literature. If you haven't explored these programs, now is the time to do so!

Tme is a low-probability typo, found 11 times in OhioLINK and 33 times in OCLC. Actually, it could be higher than that, but in order to avoid false hits with acronyms, I did a search for "tme and time." You may want to try other searches as well.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of an alarm clock from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ezra + Erza (for Ezra)

Today is likely to be a Snowy Day wherever you happen to be. It also happens to be the birthday of Ezra Jack Keats, born Jacob Ezra Katz on March 11, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York. Keats won the Caldecott Medal in 1963 for a classic work of children's literature called The Snowy Day. The book features a young African-American boy named Peter, who reappears in six other books later on. Black characters were rare in children's books at that time; Keats says he got the idea to write about one from a 1940s issue of Life magazine. Keats grew up poor and, unable to afford art supplies, worked with scraps of wood, paper, and cloth instead. This ultimately led to his distinctive collage style of illustration. He illustrated a total of 33 books, 22 of which he also wrote. Always sensitive to prejudice and discrimination, he changed his name after World War II to "Ezra Jack Keats"—turning Jacob into "Jack" and Katz into "Keats." But he kept the Ezra. We found five cases of Ezra + Erza in OhioLINK today.

(Book cover for The Snowy Day, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Barabara + Barbara (for Barbara)

Theda Bara, born Theodosia Burr Goodman, was the original movie "vamp" (short for vampire and slang for sexually predatory female). Bara, along with Valeska Suratt and Musidora, popularized this femme fatale persona during the early days of the silent screen. Her stage name has become a household word, but its origins are a matter of some debate. The Guinness Book of Movie Facts and Feats claims it came from director Frank Powell, who had discovered she had a relative named Barranger. However, those of a more exotic turn of mind at the time imagined it to be an anagram for "Arab Death." The Goodman family legally changed its surname to Bara in 1917. Check your catalogs carefully and legally change all instances of Barabara to Barbara—although you should probably check the works in question, per usual, if the occurrence is in a transcribed field. We found 54 of these twin-vamped typos in OhioLINK today, and over a thousand in WorldCat.

(Theda Bara in Carmen, a lost film made in 1915, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wiconsin, etc. (for Wisconsin)

Today's typos turn up in OhioLINK only a few times each, but united they make a much stronger showing. We found Wiconsin five times, Wiscosin four times, and Winconsin twice. The people united will never be defeated, declares the old Chilean protest song. But never say never, I guess. The Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature have just stripped the state's civil servants of their collective bargaining rights and essentially declared class warfare on its workers. Oh, and one more little thing: the governor can now dissolve cities, towns, and other elected bodies—those who are having difficulty balancing their budgets without violating union contracts—and replace them with corporations. Teachers are rioting in the streets, for Pete's sake. It's truly a dark day in America, but you can help shine a light on its unfolding history by at least making sure all records relating to it are correctly spelled.

(Union protester in Madison, Wisconsin, capitol building, Feb. 22, 2011, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Progessiv* (for Progressiv*)

As evidenced by the performance of the "Fab 14" (Democratic senators who stood with the unions and against Governor Walker and what some protestors are now calling the "Repugs"), Wisconsin has had a long and proud history of progressivism. But how things are going to go for workers in Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan at this point is anybody's guess. Robert La Follette, Sr., was a Republican governor, congressman, and senator from Wisconsin in the early twentieth century. He also ran for president on his own "Progressive Party" in 1906 and got 17% of the vote. According to Wikipedia, La Follette is "best remembered as a proponent of progressivism and a vocal opponent of railroad trusts, bossism, World War I, and the League of Nations." He was also the founder of The Progressive, originally called La Follette's Weekly, in 1909. The magazine's name was changed in 1929 and continues to inspire progressives today. There were 30 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK as of this morning, and over 400 in WorldCat.

(Robert La Follette, Sr., ca. 1922-1925, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 7, 2011

Genious* (for Genius*)

Some people this week are thinking Charlie Sheen might be a genius. Hmm, could be! Or maybe he's so far beyond sheer geniusness that we need a new word for it: "Sheenius," perhaps? Apparently, Charlie is also a poet (I mean, "Adonis DNA"? Duh!) and has been one for quite a while now. (Check out this "slender volume of his own poetry" published in the late 1980s.) In any case, you can call him a "genius" or even, as he says himself, "grandiose" (which according to the dictionary, is not always an insult or psychiatric diagnosis), just don't spell it Genious*, our not so brilliant typo of the day. We discovered 11 of these winners! in OhioLINK, making it a typo of "moderate probability" on the Ballard list.

(GOD SAVE THE SHEEN, by Alicia Megan Dixon, 2011-03-05, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 4, 2011

Signig* (for Significant*, etc.)

It's significant whenever someone dares to read, much less write, much less utter, much much less entitle a book with, the word nigger—but that's exactly what a number of authors, both contemporary and historical, have done. (Witness Carl Van Vechten, Joseph Conrad, and Agatha Christie for some notable examples.) But such books as those, while they employ the word, are not strictly about the word. In more recent years, however, a handful of scholars and others have turned their attentions to the etymology, meaning, and significance of the so-called "N word." Harvard professor Randall Kennedy asserts in Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word that the time has come for this word to be thoroughly re-examined, defused, and demystified. Others fiercely argue for retaining, or even tightening, the taboo against it. In any case, given increasing "literary warrant" for the topic, it seems a reasonable case could be made for authorizing the subject heading: "Nigger (The English Word)." There were 14 cases of Signig* in the OhioLINK database today, virtually all of which were typos for significant or significance.

(Randall Kennedy, from a Google Image search.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Steet* + Street* (for Street*)

Yesterday was the 87th birthday of Theodor Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. And today was the day I decided to walk down to the DMV on my lunch hour to renew my driver's license. It was cold and crisp and clear out, so I took my digital camera along to photograph the sights—mostly old buildings and trees and pigeons and such, but you never really know what you'll see! A woman with two little kids spied me happily snapping away and asked me (in a not altogether unfriendly way) just what it was I was taking pictures of. Oh, nothing in particular, I replied, just interesting stuff I might see on my way to Motor Vehicles. I should have added that I was paying tribute to Dr. Seuss's very first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. I was heartened to learn that the author had nearly burned this classic of children's literature after seeing it rejected something like 43 times—but did not. (Vanguard Press, bless its visionary heart, finally published it in 1937.) After talking earlier in the day with a brilliant colleague who is facing the same sort of difficulties, it was good to be reminded that talent and persistence can eventually pay off. We found 29 instances of today's typo in OhioLINK, although a certain number of those involved proper names and other false hits. Stay on track and you should be able to fix a few street signs in your own library's catalog.

(The "Seuss Spruce" growing in the quad of SUNY Geneseo in Geneseo, New York, so named due to its unusual shape and resemblance to one of the fantastical plants envisioned by Dr. Seuss, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Desparat* (for Desperat*)

I was desperate for a typo today and an email correspondent proved equally so, though for a much different reason. So much so, in fact, that he misspelled the crucial word as Desparate and then neglected to use the spell checker before hitting "Send." This simple act of desperation, however, worked out pretty well for both of us. He made his point with urgency and poignancy, and I got my typo. It turned up 64 times in OhioLINK, but a dozen or so of those seem to suggest an antiquated spelling. (I realize I could have written about that top-rated TV show for housewives here—and it's not that I think I'd have to be really desperate to do that—it's just that I've never seen it.)

(Desperate Dan, the British cartoon character, with his faithful pet Dawg in tow and stalked by a life-size version of Minnie the Minx, in Dundee, Scotland. Rumor has it that the citizens of Dundee were asked if they would like a statue of Winston Churchill, but they said they would prefer Desperate Dan.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wordwide (for Worldwide)

There are several contenders for longest word, but what is the widest word in the world? According to the scholarly journal The Monist, volume 25 (1915), Bertrand Russell once wrote: "Whatever may be an object of thought or may occur in any true or false proposition, or can be counted as one, I call a term. This then is the widest word in the philosophical vocabulary." Later on he qualifies that claim by stating: "I shall use the word object in a wider sense than term, to cover both singular and plural, and also cases of ambiguity, such as 'a man.' The fact that a word can be framed with a wider meaning than term raises grave logical problems." Hmmm. Well, I'm no philosopher, by a wide margin, but I have been told that my "search terms are well formed" on the World Wide Web. As for how widespread today's typo is, we found five cases of it in OhioLINK and 78 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Bertrand Russell, 1950 Nobel Laureate in Literature, image probably taken in the 1930s, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid