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Yale librarian makes interesting discovery in new digital resources

When Gregory Eow, Kaplanoff Librarian for American History and Librarian for British and Commonwealth History, arranged for Yale University Library to subscribe to three new digital history resources (Illustrated London News Historical Archive, Rotunda: America's Founding Era, and American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection), he expected that these databases would be of great value to Yale scholars and students. He didn't expect that there would be immediate important historical discoveries derived from Yale's new subscriptions. Yet this is what happened, as Fred Shapiro, Associate Law Librarian for Collections and Access and Lecturer in Legal Research at Yale Law School, found by searching the Illustrated London News a usage of the word "feminist" in 1894, earlier than the oldest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary. Within ten minutes of beginning his searching, he e-mailed this antedating to the OED. Shapiro has been described by the OED's Chief Editor as their major contemporary contributor, and is also the editor of The Yale Book of Quotations, published by Yale University Press. He uses the University Library's wonderful array of searchable historical text collections, one of the best available at any university, frequently in improving upon the historical record of words and phrases in the OED, and also used the same online tools in compiling The Yale Book of Quotations and the forthcoming Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, revolutionizing our knowledge of quotation and proverb origins in the process.