A DC.Nerd’s heaven

image of DC Code volumes 1924-1940

Shown here, my heaven. On the left, the 1901 District of Columbia Code, through 1924. Next to that, the 1901 Code amended through 1929, followed by five annual supplement volumes. The two dark blue volumes? The 1940 D.C. Code.

With so much legal material available online–and as an attorney who learned how to research cases in books while on crutches, I am eternally grateful for the commercial services that facilitate legal research–it is a joyful (and DUSTY!) day when I get to hold these old publications in my hands. Organizing these was a project last week. Next up…organizing the DCRR and DCMR.




Here I am two years after my last post sharing about pancakes. I’ll try to get back to more important things but really, pancakes are important, too. When Passover ends and you find yourself with milk (milk! that hasn’t spoiled!) and eggs and the chocolate chips you found while cleaning your kitchen in preparation for Passover, chocolate chip pancakes are a requirement.

Making pancakes–chocolate chip or not–is a pain. I found this recipe at Eating on a Dime, courtesy of a web search for “baked pancakes,” added chocolate chips, and had pancakes for Monday morning breakfast. Success!

Industry in 1915

“Lack of scientific cost-finding systems in the women’s muslin underwear industry has led to ruinous competition in the industry.” Evening Star, November 26, 1915, page 12.

Hello from the Office of Public Records

[NB: I’m not actually writing this from OPR. I hope that’s obvious.]

Last week I introduced myself to the Friends of the DC Archives. In doing so, I shared my Twitter handle, and thus exposed this here blog/website. Having done so, I figured I should share something new. Certainly my last post, suggesting that you adopt my foster cat Prince, is in need of replacement, as Prince was adopted (and now named Freddy) and my new foster, Mocha, is advocating for herself on my boys’ blog.

I’ve been the Public Records Administrator for the District for three weeks now. I’ve learned, in those three weeks, that supervising involves much more email than I realized, and I’ve discovered amazing records in our collection. (Bear in mind that I have a particularly nerdy perspective on what qualifies as “amazing.” Everyone (“everyone”) knows that we have Frederick Douglass’s will, but does everyone know that in 1987, there were 17 babies born in DC who were at least the 9th child born to the mother? Fun data!

One of the projects on my to-do list for the coming months (it’s quite a lengthy list) is to develop a social media strategy/plan. I would love to have an official outlet for publicizing our services and sharing nuggets of DC’s history. In the meantime, please remember that my observations and attempts at being witty here in this space are purely unofficial. Even if I do start a “found in the DC Archives” series. (Another thing on my to-do list? It might not happen.)

When your resources aren’t perfect

This post is a bit of a “what would YOU do?” request for input. Let me begin with the background:

I am, on behalf of my office, working on a project to digitize (*cough*scan*cough*) all of the D.C. Laws from Council periods 1 through 7. These are unofficial copies, and are online in concert with the unofficial D.C. Code that while unofficial is the easiest to use in most circumstances. The scanning has been done by two interns placed with my office through Urban Alliance (I wrote about Urban Alliance before), the first who did a huge amount of work and the second who is going through and picking up where things were missed or scanned from poor copies.

And thus we have the phenomenon that leads me to my question. I now have in some cases two scanned versions of a law, each with its own problem. You know how you can have two of (a) good, (b) fast, and (c) cheap, but not all three? Well, in some cases I can have two of (a) legible margins (that is, from a flat original), (b) bottom lines of text not cut off, or (c) consistent appearance (that is, all of the pages from the same “original” and not combined from two separate scans).

In an ideal world, we would go and search out the original and scan from there. But that’s not happening here. It isn’t an ideal world, we don’t have perfect resources, and these aren’t intended to be archival quality. (There IS a risk that they could be used as “oh, someone’s already scanned these, yay we don’t have to.”)

Here is an example of this situation. What would you do? 1. Use the scan with poor margins. (law 5-129) 2. Use the scan with the bottom of the first page cut off. (L5-129) 3. Use page 1 of the scan with poor margins and the rest of the pages from the other scan. 4. Throw it all together in a single PDF because the scan with the problem on the first page also doesn’t have page numbers.

L5-129 law 5-129