Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sprucing things up with familiar quotations


Ol' Myrt here has been tutoring a newbie computer user, and yesterday's topic seemed quite applicable to family historians as well. Why not intersperse "familiar quotations" when composing biographies of your ancestors? Don't these reflect prevailing thought, in addition to adding bits of wisdom and whimsy? Think of:

GO WEST YOUNG MAN - "A favorite saying of the nineteenth-century journalist Horace Greeley, referring to opportunities on the frontier. Another writer, John Soule, apparently originated it."(1) "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country. Attribution: Horace Greeley (1811–1872), U.S. newspaper editor. Hints toward Reforms (1850)." (2)

Find an online source for familiar quotations.

1. I needed a "search engine" so I went to
2. I typed in the words "familiar quotations" (without the quote marks.)
3. I noticed that the first of 826,000 entries was:

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
Searchable quotations site, provided in electronic format by Project Bartleby at Columbia University. - 38k - Aug 11, 2005

4. That sounded good, so I clicked on the blue underlined hypertext. Hypertext is clickable text, that directed my computer in this case to the
5. When I got to Bartleby's website, I typed "fear itself" without quote marks in the search box. (See point A on illustration below.)
6. Then I clicked the "GO" button (See point B on illustration below.)
[The illustration appears in web version of this column. RootsWeb mailing lists do not provide for embedded photos or attachments. See: ]
7. The next screen (not illustrated here) gave a list of quotations that have the word "fear" and "itself" within a 3-5 word proximity of each other. I was surprised to discover more than one quote qualified, and showed up on the "hit list."
8. I clicked on the Roosevelt link "nothing to fear but fear itself" to obtain the full quote and attribution. It happened to be the third item on the hit list yesterday.

QUOTATION: Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
ATTRIBUTION: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), U.S. Democratic politician, president. Speech, July 2, 1932, repeated in his first inaugural address, March 4, 1933. The expression has numerous precedents, including the Duke of Wellington, Montaigne and the Bible, and was used by Sir Winston Churchill during World War II.

Skip the Google Search and go directly to where your search includes the following resources:
-- Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2001.
-- The Encyclopedia of World History, 6th ed. 2001.
-- The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd ed. 2002.
-- The Columbia Gazetteer of North America. 2000.
-- The World Factbook. 2003.
-- American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. 2000.
-- Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, 3rd ed. 1995.
-- Roget’s International Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. 1922
-- Bartlett, John. 1919. Familiar Quotations, 10th ed.
-- The Columbia World of Quotations. 1996.
-- Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations. 1988.
-- Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
-- American Heritage® Book of English Usage. 1996
-- The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.
-- Fowler, H. W. 1908. The King’s English, 2nd ed.
-- Mencken, H.L. 1921. The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, 2nd ed.
-- Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur. 1916. On the Art of Writing.
-- Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur. 1920. On the Art of Reading.
-- Sapir, Edward. 1921. Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.
-- Strunk, William, Jr. 1918. The Elements of Style.
-- The Bible. 1999. King James Version.
-- Brewer, E. Cobham. 1898. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
-- Bulfinch, Thomas. 1913. The Age of Fable.
-- Frazer, Sir James George. 1922. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, Abridged ed.
-- Cambridge History of English & American Literature (18 vols.). 1907–21.
-- Eliot, Charles W., ed. 1909–17. The Harvard Classics and Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.
-- Eliot, T.S. 1920. The Sacred Wood.
-- Shakespeare, William. 1914. The Oxford Shakespeare.
-- Van Doren, Carl. 1921. The American Novel.
-- Gray, Henry. 1918. Anatomy of the Human Body, 20th ed.
-- Farmer, Fannie Merritt. 1918. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.
-- Post, Emily. 1922. Etiquette.
-- Robert, Henry M. 1915. Robert’s Rules of Order Revised.
-- Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. 1989.
-- Bryan, William Jennings, ed. 1906. The World’s Famous Orations.
-- Eliot, Charles W., ed. 1909–17. The Harvard Classics and Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.
-- Bryan, William Jennings, ed. 1906. The World’s Famous Orations.
-- American Historical Documents: 1000–1904. 1909–17.
-- English Essays from Sir Philip Sidney to Macaulay. 1909–17.
-- Essays: English and American. 1909–17.
-- Literary and Philosophical Essays. 1909–17.
-- Matthews, Brander, ed. 1914. The Oxford Book of American Essays.
-- Morley, Christopher, ed. 1921. Modern Essays.
-- Scientific Papers. 1909–17.
-- Voyages and Travels. 1909–17.
-- Adams, Henry. 1918. The Education of Henry Adams.
-- Augustine, Saint. 1909–14. The Confessions of St. Augustine.
-- Bacon, Francis. 1909–14. Essays, Civil and Moral.
-- Bacon, Francis. 1909–14. The New Atlantis.
-- 1909–14. Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Luke & Acts. From the American Standard Edition of the Revised Bible.
-- Bok, Edward. 1921. The Americanization of Edward Bok.
-- Browne, Thomas, Sir. 1909–14. Religio Medici.
-- Burke, Edmund. 1909–14. A Letter to a Noble Lord.
-- Burke, Edmund. 1909–14. On Taste.
-- Burke, Edmund. 1909-14. On the Sublime and Beautiful.
-- Burke, Edmund 1909–14. Reflections on the French Revolution.
-- Carlyle, Thomas. 1909–14. Characteristics.
-- Carlyle, Thomas. 1909–14. Inaugural Address at Edinburgh.
-- Carlyle, Thomas. 1909–14. Sir Walter Scott.-- Cellini, Benvenuto. 1909–14. Autobiography.
-- Cicero. 1909–14. On Friendship & On Old Age.
OK, DearREADERS, that is the list of works, just through the letter "C" of author's surnames. I think you get the point, especially when you compare this list to your advanced placement high school & college reading lists.

Since locating an appropriate quotation is just a mouse-click away, the internet isn't just for students. Family historians can take advantage of this powerful website to enhance the descriptions of their ancestors.
-- TIME SAVED (the ability to search literally hundreds of sources in a nano-second.)
-- MONEY SAVED (I certainly don't have a personal library this extensive.)
-- CROSS REFERENCES (Each phrase contains links for bibliographic citation and biographical studies of the author in question.)
-- COPY/PASTE to your notes for an ancestor

It might be good to print this out, and try the process on your own with another quotation.
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
(1) The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002.
(2) The Columbia World of Quotations. 1996.

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