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Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month in Falvey: Agnes Moncy, PhD

Portrait of a Man 1595-1600 Oil on canvas, 53 x 47 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Portrait of a Man
1595-1600
Oil on canvas, 53 x 47 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

To celebrate Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month, Agnes Moncy, PhD, professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Temple University, will discuss El Greco. This event, held at 3:00 p.m. Oct. 23, in room 204, commemorates the 400th anniversary of El Greco’s death.

The eventco-sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Sigma Delta Pi and the Hispanic Honor Societyis free and open to the public.

El Greco, born Doménikos Theotokopoulos (c. 1547 – 1614) in Crete (a Greek island), moved to Italy as a young man. There he visited Venice, where he was influenced by the paintings of Titian and Tintoretto; El Greco also traveled to Rome where he saw Roman and Florentine Mannerist works. By 1577, he had moved to Toledo,Spain, where he remained for the rest of his life.

El Greco (“the Greek”) is considered a major Spanish Renaissance artist although his personal style reflects strong elements of Late Byzantine and Late Italian Mannerist art. He painted portraits and intensely emotional religious paintings such as “The Burial of Count Orgaz,” 1586, in Santo Tomé, Toledo, Spain.

Dig Deeper: El Greco Resources

Videos—
El Greco: Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple (Great Britain: National Gallery, 1995).

Rubens, van Dyck and the 17th Century Flemish Painters; Rembrandt and the 17th Century Dutch Masters; Velazquez, El Greco, Goya and the Spanish Masters (Russia: Gosudarstvennyi Ermitazh,1992).

Books—
Alvarez Lopera, José. El Greco (Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, 2003). Text in Spanish.

Alvarez Lopera, José. El retablo del Colegio de Doña Maria de Aragón de El Greco [The Retablo (Altarpiece) of the Colegio of Doña Maria of Aragon by El Greco] (Madrid: Tf. Editores, c.2000). Text in Spanish.

Calvo Serraller, F. Entierro del conde de Orgaz [Burial of the Count Orgaz] (Milano: Electra, c.1994). Text in Italian.

Figures of Thought: El Greco as Interpreter of History, Tradition and Ideas (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1982).

Guinard, Paul J. El Greco: Biographical and Critical Study (Lausanne: Skira, 1956).

Kelemen, Pál. El Greco Revisited: Candia, Venice, Toledo (New York: Macmillan, 1961).

Marías, Fernando. El Greco in Toledo (London: Scala, 2001).

Marías, Fernando. El Greco, Life and Work: A New History (London: Thames and Hudson, 2013).

Museo Thyssen Bornemisza. El Greco: Identity and Transformation: Crete, Italy, Spain (Milano: Skira, 1999).

Panagiötakës, Nikolaos. El Greco: The Cretan Years (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009).

Sérullaz, Maurice. Christ on the Cross (London: M. Parrish, 1947).

Sureda, Joan. La Gloria de los Siglos de Oro: Mecenas, Artistas y Maravillas en la España Imperial [The Glory of the Golden Age: Patrons, Artists and Wonders of Imperial Spain] (Barcelona: Lunwerg Editores, 2006). Text in Spanish.

Toledo Museum of Art. El Greco of Toledo (Boston: Little, Brown, 1982).

Wethey, Harold E. El Greco and his School (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962).

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Dig Deeper: Journalism and the Great War

NYTimes-WWI headline 1918

When the Great War changed the course of the 20th century, it also greatly impacted the world of communication. Until this time, muckraking was the dominant journalistic movement, which was an incarnation of investigative writing that sought to unveil corruption and scandal (to “rake” up “muck”), especially regarding politics and social issues.

Some of the most influential journalists in the Progressive Era included Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, and Ray Stannard Baker, all three of whom wrote for McClure’s Magazine, which played a significant role in establishing the muckraking movement. While Steffens (1866-1936) focused on exposing government and political corruption, Tarbell (1857-1944) is perhaps best known for her work exposing John D. Rockefeller and the ills of his oil monopoly. Stannard (1870-1946) was an advocate of Woodrow Wilson during his presidential candidacy and was later asked by him to investigate the war in Europe. The muckraking movement, however, was to meet its end during World War I, during which government in general became adversarial toward journalism.

George Creel journalist

George Creel

Seven days after the United States entered the global conflict, President Woodrow Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI), which strove to publicize the war through print and visual media in only constructive ways. Although the CPI did not have the ability to censor, its head, George Creel, a muckraking journalist himself, did advocate for voluntary self-monitoring and even issued a Preliminary Statement to the Press in May 1917 that urged editors to prevent publication of any news that could compromise military operations. As Creel was also a member of the government Censorship Board, which monitored communication over telegraph, telephone and cable, he was able to scrutinize periodicals as well as magazines, which were required to present their articles for the board’s review before publication.

The Espionage Act of 1917 and a 1918 sedition amendment frustrated attempts to publish an objective view of the war even further. The former barred any materials that ostensibly advocated disloyalty, insubordination, treason or obstruction of military recruitment, while the latter deemed criminal any published content disloyal to the government or military. In the hands of a manipulating Wilson administration, the freedom of domestic reporting was severely restricted.

Although operating under difficult conditions, there were numerous journalists who were able to distinguish themselves for their courage, intelligence and integrity.

Nellie_Bly_2

Nellie Bly

During what she thought only to be a vacation in Europe, Nellie Bly (1864-1922) witnessed the outbreak of the Great War. Previously, Bly had written for the New York World about government corruption, poor working conditions, and the Pullman labor strike, and even had the opportunity to interview American social reformer Susan B. Anthony. After taking a hiatus from investigative journalism, she was asked by a former World editor to write for the New York Evening Journal about her experiences in war-torn Europe. She ultimately accepted and is now known as America’s first female war correspondent reporting from the front lines.

John Reed (1887-1920) was another war correspondent who sailed to Europe soon after Germany declared war on France. He viewed the war largely as a product of commercialism and was frequently thwarted by censorship in the press. Reed is famously known to have shouted, “This is not my war, and I will not support it. This is not my war, and I will have nothing to do with it” (Homberger, John Reed, 1990, p.122). After President Wilson announced the involvement of the United States, Reed went on to publish vitriolic anti-war articles in the Socialist magazine The Masses, whose editors were eventually charged with conspiring to obstruct conscription.

After the war, author and journalist Georges Seldes (1890-1995) conducted an exclusive interview with the supreme commander of the German army, Paul von Hindenburg, who actually broke down in tears during the interview and discussed how pivotal America was strategically in winning the war.

With the efforts of these journalists and many others, it seems only appropriate that the Pulitzer Prizes, established by one of the most famous journalists and publisher of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World, Joseph Pulitzer, were first awarded for achievement in journalism in 1917.


Dig Deeper: Resources about Journalism through the Great War

For a topic overview, check out the entry “Journalism, World War I” from our online reference Americans at War: Society, Culture and the Homefront. This entry concludes with a bibliography with sources that further investigate the history of journalism.

For primary sources, try browsing through a list of periodicals published during WWI.

Resources on Muckrakers past and present

A list of books about Ida Tarbell

Read more about Lincoln Steffens.

Discover the World War I diary of Ray Stannard Baker and more.

How well do you know Nellie Bly, the woman who travelled around the world in 72 days?

Find out more about the radical politics of John Reed.

Learn about the extraordinary career of Georges Seldes.

Resources about Joseph Pulitzer, the history of the prizes, and the works of individual prize-winning authors are all right here.

For more information about journalism throughout World War I, please email me, Alexander Williams, or call 610-519-8845.


Article written and links provided by Alexander Williams, research support librarian for the social sciences and the liaison to the communication, criminology and sociology departments.

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The War to End All Wars: Great War Resources at Falvey

By Canadian Official photographer, Castle, W I (Lieutenant) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Canadian Official photographer, Castle, W I (Lieutenant) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When a nation enters war, it often justifies its actions with promises of a better and more just world. The Great War, which consumed much of Europe and its colonial outposts from 1914 to 1918, was no exception. H.G. Wells called it the “war that will end war,” which later morphed into “the war to end all wars.” Wells coined this phrase in a Times editorial. His 1914 editorials are easily accessible in a book: The War That Will End War.

2014 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the war: A war that started with Austria’s declaration of war against Serbia on July 28, 1914, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife a month earlier. Much has been written about the war since then, and 2014 promises a bumper crop of new scholarship. The Library will showcase new publications in a small exhibit in the Learning Commons throughout the fall semester.

WWI CENTENNIAL EXHIBIT WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THE FALL SEMESTER

WWI CENTENNIAL EXHIBIT WILL CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THE FALL SEMESTER

Here are some titles you can expect to see in the exhibit. Aside from run-of-the-mill general surveys, a number of these books explore previously neglected aspects of the war.

The historiography of the Great War has gone through many changes, and the amount of scholarship can be overwhelming. The three volumes of the Cambridge History of the First World War, particularly the excellent bibliographic essays included in each volume, are a good starting point for interested readers.

Among the excellent primary sources available at Falvey are the complete archives of the New York Times and the London Times. Your Villanova id. will allow you either to open the New York Times from Sunday, August 9, 1914 and browse through pages after pages of war coverage or to read the detailed coverage of the war declaration in the Times of London on July 29, 1914.

Online exhibitions commemorating the Great War abound: The National World War I Museum has a series of exhibitions ranging from War Art to War Fare. Europeana 1914-1918 features untold stories and official histories of the war from archives and museums across Europe. Last but not least, Falvey hosted Jeffrey Johnson, PhD, on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. for a talk about the origins of the war: “From the Pistol of June to the Guns of August 1914: Beginning the Self-Destruction of Imperial Europe.”


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Jutta Seibert

Links and resources prepared by Jutta Seibert, team leader for Academic Integration and subject librarian for History.

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World War I Centennial: Watch this Space!

"Postcard, U.S. soldiers tips the Kaiser's helmet, [n.d.]". Great War. Digital Library @ Villanova University. Date Accessed: 23 September 14, 9:22 AM.

Postcard, U.S. soldier tips the Kaiser’s helmet, [n.d.]. Great War Collection. Digital Library @ Villanova University. CC-BY-NC. Accessed 23 September 2014, 9:22AM.

This year marks the centennial of the beginning of the Great War, now more frequently known as World War I, the first truly world-wide war. On June 28, 1914, a Serbian zealot, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of the emperor of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where the Archduke was inspecting troops. On July 28 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and within a week Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia were united against Austria-Hungary and Germany. On Aug. 4 German troops invaded Belgium and attacked Liege with cannons, capturing the city by Aug. 15.

From there the German army moved into France and fought the First Battle of Marne, Sept. 6-9, against French and British forces. World War I was fully underway although the United States did not enter the conflict until April 6, 1917. The war continued until Germany surrendered on Nov. 11, 1918. This Great War occurred after a long period of peace and prosperity; it left a lasting impact on the world.

To commemorate the centennial of the beginning of World War I, Falvey Memorial Library has two exhibits, one on the first floor and another on the second floor. On the first floor is “Home Before the Leaves Fall: Lost Memories of the Great War,” an exhibit of materials from Falvey’s Special Collections. Currently under construction, the exhibit for the second floor Learning Commons reference section is “World War I, One Hundredth Anniversary: Lessons to be Learned.” This exhibit was created by Merrill Stein, liaison team leader for political science/history/geography and the environment and Jutta Seibert, a team member and liaison to history and art history. Graphics for both exhibits were designed by Joanne Quinn, Falvey’s graphic designer.

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m. in room 204, Jeffrey Johnson, PhD, professor of history, will speak on “From the Pistol of June to the Guns of August 1914: Beginning the Self-Destruction of Imperial Europe.”

During the next few months, various librarians will write World War I blogs related to their areas of expertise. Watch this space for further news! And check out Home Before the Leaves Fall for additional information about World War I.

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The Highlighter: You Are Going to Love Falvey’s Website Upgrade

HIGHLIGHTER-PRO

 

Just a single search in Falvey’s catalog now yields not only books, media and articles but also Falvey-website items and books from other libraries—all on one page (Enable Closed Captioning for silent viewing):

For additional “How to” videos, click the “Help” button on Falvey’s homepage.

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Dig Deeper: Kevin Spacey at Villanova

Kevin-Spacey-as-Clarence-Da-528x7061

Parents Weekend offers an opportunity for the parents of students, new and seasoned, to visit Villanova’s campus. Parents Weekend 2014 will be held from Sept. 19-21. This year’s guest speaker for the Saturday evening program is the inimitable Kevin Spacey. Spacey, an Academy Award-winning actor, currently executively produces and stars in the hit Netflix original series House of Cards. He is perhaps most known for his breakout role in The Usual Suspects and his memorable characters in American Beauty and L.A. Confidential.

But Spacey’s involvement in the arts does not end at producing and acting—he also funds emerging artists through the Kevin Spacey Foundation; has his own production company, Trigger Street Productions; and since 2004, he has worked with The Old Vic Theatre Company in London as Artistic Director.

If you’d like to learn more about Spacey, or delve into his filmography here at Falvey Memorial Library, check out the resources compiled by Sarah Wingo, liaison librarian for English literature and theatre.

 


Dig Deeper:

Fun fact: Spacey’s Wiki page notes that his “first professional stage appearance was as a spear carrier in a New York Shakespeare Festival performance of Henry VI, part 1 in 1981.”

Falvey Memorial Library has two articles and two documentaries.

Here is the full list of films on VHS & DVD at Falvey.

And see how even Kevin Spacey pixelated can steal the show in an upcoming video game.

 


Sarah

Dig Deeper links selected by Sarah Wingo, team leader- Humanities II, subject librarian for English, literature and theatre. Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

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Dig Deeper: Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month fetes “Platero y Yo”

Domesticated donkey, ass, asinus vulgaris or Equus africanus asi

Mercedes_Julia

On Thursday, September 18 at 3:00 p.m. in Speakers’ Corner of Falvey Memorial Library, Mercedes Juliá, PhD, professor of modern and contemporary literature and cultural studies in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures will be presenting a lecture in honor of Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month. Her talk is titled “The Inner Exile of Juan Ramón Jiménez.” Following Dr. Juliá’s talk, a bilingual presentation of Juan Ramón Jiménez’s Platero y Yo will be given. This event is part of the celebration of the Año Platero, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Platero y Yo.

This event, co-sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Sigma Delta Pi and the Hispanic Honor Society, is free and open to the public.

Juan Ramón Jiménez

Juan Ramón Jiménez

In preparation for the presentation of Juan Ramón Jiménez’s Platero y Yo and to help commemorate its 100th publication anniversary, check out the following resources provided by Susan Ottignon, the liaison librarian for Romance Languages and Literatures.

 


Dig Deeper:

Falvey Memorial Library offers resources to assist you in researching and appreciating Juan Ramón Jiménez’s Platero y Yo.

Looking for criticism? Try searching one of these databases to find critical analysis in journal articles about the work. You can search “platero y yo” to pull up results

MLA International Bibliography (ProQuest)
This database consists of bibliographic records pertaining to literature, language, linguistics and folklore. It includes citations to articles from over 4,400 journals and series published internationally, as well as monographs, collections and various types of reference works.

Literature Criticism Online (Gale)
LCO is an extensive compilation of literary commentary reaching back 30 years and covering centuries of critiques on authors and their works that span all time periods, types of literature and regions. The cross-searchable collection brings together the most acclaimed literary series Drama Criticism, Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, Poetry Criticism and Short Story Criticism providing criticism on the major authors, dramatists and poets.

JSTOR
A searchable and browsable archive of full-text core journals in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics.

Sometimes, a summary or overview may provide insight into the author’s writing. By searching one of these resources, you can pull up a concise article.

MagillOnLiterature Plus (EBSCO)
Provides access to editorially reviewed critical analyses, brief plot summaries, and extended character profiles covering works by more than 8,500 long and short fiction writers, poets, dramatists, essayists and philosophers. Coverage includes sources Cyclopedia of Literary Places, Masterplots and European Fiction Series.

Literature Resource Center (Gale)
Full-text articles from scholarly journals and literary magazines are combined with critical essays, work and topic overviews, full-text works, biographies and more to provide a wealth of information on authors, their works and literary movements.

“Hear straight from the horse’s mouth!”

The Library has a documentary on Juan Ramón Jiménez in which he talks about his book “Platero y Yo”? Just ask for the VHS, “Platero y yo Radio Televisión Española”—PQ6619.I4 P62 2000 (VHS)—at the circulation desk.

Don’t know Spanish? No problem!

Falvey has an English translation, Platero and I, available in the main collection on the 4th Floor with call number PQ6619.I4 P633.

 


RS4540_FML164_SusanOttignon_018_EDIT---ed

Dig Deeper links selected by Susan Ottignon, Research Support Librarian for Languages and Literatures. Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.

 

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Dig Deeper: Jill A. McCorkel, PhD, researches a major US women’s prison

Breaking Women

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 2:30 p.m. in room 205 of Falvey Memorial Library, Jill A. McCorkel, PhD, associate professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, will deliver a Scholarship@Villanova lecture about her recently published book, Breaking Women: Gender, Race and the New Politics of Imprisonment. Dr. McCorkel will discuss how her four years of research in a major U.S. women’s prison helped her to uncover the reasons tougher drug policies have so greatly affected those incarcerated there, and how the very nature of punishment in women’s detention centers has been deeply altered as a result. Lauded as “prison ethnography at its best” (Lorna Rhodes, author of Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison), her book is published by New York University Press and was a finalist for the 2013 C. Wright Mills Book Award presented by the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

This event—co-sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library, the Department of Sociology & Criminology, the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, and the Center for Peace and Justice Education—is free and open to the public.


Dig Deeper:

jill_mccorkelvillanova_edu

Resources by and about Dr. Jill McCorkel

Attending the lecture? Now read Dr. McCorkel’s new book: Breaking Women: Gender, Race and the New Politics of Imprisonment.

Find out more about the professor’s work and research interests by visiting her Villanova webpage

Keep up to date with the professor by following her on Twitter!

Check out Dr. McCorkel’s collaborative photo essay with prisoners from SCI Graterford @ Strongbox Magazine – Vol. 1 2009.

Becker, S. & McCorkel, J. (2011). The gender of criminal opportunity: The impact of male co-offenders on women’s crime.
Building on ethnographic research and feminist labor market analyses, this study explores how gender affects access to criminal opportunities. Using National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data, the authors examine the effect a male co-offender has on women’s offending. They find that the presence of a male co-offender broadens women’s criminal involvement in distinctive ways.

McCorkel, J. (2003). Embodied surveillance and the gendering of punishment.
This ethnography explores the enactment of “get tough” politics in a state prison for women and considers whether the implementation of seemingly gender-neutral programs and policies implies that women’s prisons are no longer operating as “gendered organizations.”

McCorkel, J. (2004). Criminally dependent? Gender, punishment, and the rhetoric of welfare reform.
This study relies on ethnographic data collected from a state prison for women to examine whether and to what extent welfare and criminal justice policies were coordinated during the drug and poverty wars of the past decade. Findings reveal that drug war policies did indeed transform punishment practices on the feminine side of the penal system, but such transformations were ultimately premised on changes to institutional interpretive structures that altered the ways state actors conceptualized gender, crime and women’s needs.

More Resources on Women and Imprisonment

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Women in Prison
The ACLU “fights to ensure that the criminal justice system treats women and girls fairly, that it protects the health and safety of women in its custody, and that it facilitates their successful reentry into their communities.” Check out this web resource for general information, statistics, videos and its personal testimony series called “Words from Prison.”

Women’s Prisons in the United States
A list of United States federal and state prisons which either currently or once did contain female prisoners.

Female offenders: critical perspectives and effective interventions
This classic text explores a variety of topics on female offenders from the nature of female offending, its patterns and explanations, power-belief theory and relational theory to institutional assessment, classification and programs.

Interrupted life: experiences of incarcerated women in the United States
This is a “gripping collection of writings by and about imprisoned women in the United States, a country that jails a larger percentage of its population than any other nation in the world. This eye-opening work brings together scores of voices from both inside and outside the prison system including incarcerated and previously incarcerated women, their advocates and allies, abolitionists, academics and other analysts” (see the full description at the University of California Press).

Women’s mental health issues across the criminal justice system
An accessible guide to women’s mental health in criminal justice systems, this text touches on meeting the needs of juvenile and adult offenders, measuring traumatic events in the lives of incarcerated girls, crisis intervention teams training, policy implications, and the ethics of justice and mental health systems.

A list of all books with the subject “Female offenders Rehabilitation United States.”

A list of all books with the subject “Women prisoners Services for United States.”

Explore more about corrections in the United States with this comprehensive list of print and online titles.


Alex Williams

Article written and links provided by Alexander Williams, research support librarian for the social sciences and the liaison to the communication, criminology and sociology departments. For questions or more information, feel free to contact him by email (alexander.williams@villanova.edu) or phone (ext.8845).

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September 11, 2001 Remembered

Since the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, when many American lives were lost or changed forever, thousands of books and articles have been written on the subject. A small sampling of books, along with special issues of the Villanova magazine and a copy of The Villanovan, are on display on the first floor near the service desk. A basic search of the library catalog for “September 11″ will bring results of more than 5000 books and many more thousands of articles. An advanced search combining September 11 and terms such as terrorism, national security or emergency management will give you more specific results.

Never forget.

remembering 911 b

remembering 911 a

remembering 911 c

 

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Panama Canal Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary!

Panoramic image of the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal from the Library of Congress  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007663303/

Panoramic image of the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal from the Library of Congress. (Click on image to enlarge.)

The Panama Canal celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The 50-miles-long canal across the Isthmus of Panama officially opened on August 15, 1914, although a French crane boat, Alexandre La Valley, had already traveled the Canal’s full length from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, completing its journey on January 7, 1914. However, the Alexandre La Valley had traversed the Canal in stages during the Canal’s construction. On August 4 the SS Cristobal, cargo steam ship, made a test run through the Canal.

Sadly, the official opening held on August 15 was overshadowed by Germany’s invasion of Belgium on August 4, followed by Great Britain declaring war that evening. The grand celebration planned to mark the completion of the most expensive construction project funded by the United States became a modest, local event. No international dignitaries attended the ceremony.

William Howard Taft, half length, standing, facing right, with Col. George Washington Goethals and others, in Panama, 1910. Image from the Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3b01935/

William Howard Taft and Col. George Washington Goethals, 1910.
Image from the Library of Congress.
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3b01935/

The first civil governor of the Canal Zone, Major George Washington Goethals (1858-1928), who had served as the chief engineer for the Canal (1907-1914), observed the passage of the first ship through the Canal on opening day. Bellisario Porras, the president of Panama also attended the opening. A steamship, the SS Ancon, used by the Panama Railway to carry supplies for the Canal’s construction, made the first official transit of the Panama Canal on the opening day; Captain John A. Constantine piloted the SS Ancon’s passage through the Canal. The Ancon’s captain was G.E. Sukeforth. The toll charged the SS Ancon for its use of the Canal was 90 cents per cargo ton.

Editorial cartoon featuring Theodore Roosevelt  from Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013651586/

Editorial cartoon featuring Theodore Roosevelt
from Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013651586/

In 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt had declared the need for a canal in Central America to join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He was not the first American president to see the need for a canal. In 1869 Ulysses S. Grant created the Inter-Oceanic Canal Commission and sent an expedition to explore possible routes for a canal. However, Grant’s hopes were not realized. Even earlier, in 1839, an anonymous author wrote two articles published in The Democratic Review advocating the construction of a “Ship Canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.”

On November 18, 1903, the United States signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty (Canal Treaty) in Panama; the treaty gave the U.S. the right to build a canal in return for an annual payment of $250,000. In June 1904 the Americans began their construction and the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of schedule.

Construction of the Panama Canal cost the United States about $375 million dollars. Of this, $10 million was paid to Panama and $40 million paid to the French company, Compagnie Nouvelle, which had begun construction of the Canal in 1879. In 1915, the year after construction was completed, the Panama Canal earned approximately $4 million in tolls. The building of the Canal under American administration cost about 5,600 lives, although the majority of these were not Americans.

Don't miss the various live webcams from the Panama Canal

Don’t miss the various live webcams from the Panama Canal

It takes eight to ten hours for a ship to travel the length of the Canal, and about three of those hours are spent going through its locks. (According to dictionary.com, a lock is “an enclosed chamber in a canal … with gates at each end, for raising or lowering vessels from one level to another by admitting or releasing water.”)

Tolls are determined by the size and weight of the ship and its cargo capacity or, for passenger ships, by the number of berths. For current tolls see www.pancanal.com. Since the 1970s many cargo ships have become too large to use the Canal, and beginning around 2001 suggestions were made to expand the Canal. In 2007 construction began, dredging the existing canal and constructing additional larger locks. The project is expected to be completed in 2015 at a cost of $5.25 million dollars.

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty giving the Canal to Panama. Under Panama’s ACP, the state-owned agency, tolls have increased, traffic through the Canal has grown and service has improved.

Dig Deeper:

Official Panama Canal website

Panama Canal Timeline

Panama Canal Museum

Selected Falvey resources:

Center of Military History. The Panama Canal: An Army’s Enterprise (2009)

Panama’s Canal: What Happens When the United States Gives a Small Country What It Wants. (1998)

Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time – The Building of the Panama Canal. (2007)

Considerations on the subject of a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by means of a ship-canal … (1836)

“Two Articles on the Projected Ship Canal to Connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.” Reprinted from The Democratic Review for October and November, 1839. Washington, 1839.

Expansion of the Canal:

United States Maritime Administration. Panama Canal Expansion Study: Phase I Report, Developments in Trade and National and Global Economies. (2013)

“The Panama Canal: A Plan to Unlock Prosperity.” The Economist, 03 December 2009.

“Agreement reached on Panama Canal dispute.” 04 August 2014.


imagesArticle by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team. 

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Last Modified: August 14, 2014