Free: Download 10,000+ Master Drawings from The Morgan Library & Museum’s Online Collection

It’s hard for the casu­al brows­er to know where to begin with a col­lec­tion as vast as the mas­ter draw­ings belong­ing to the Mor­gan Library & Muse­um.

The Library’s Draw­ings Online pro­gram gives the pub­lic free access to over 10,000 down­load­able images, drawn pri­mar­i­ly from—and in—the fif­teenth through nine­teenth cen­turies. Many images are fleshed out with inscrip­tions, infor­ma­tion on prove­nance, bio­graph­i­cal sketch­es of the artist, and, in over 2000 instances, images of the ver­so, or flip side of the paper.

Researchers and sim­i­lar­ly informed seek­ers can browse by artist or school, but what if you don’t quite know what you want?

You could tour the high­lights, or bet­ter yet, bush­whack your way into the unknown by enter­ing a ran­dom word or phrase into the “search draw­ings” func­tion.

Know­ing that the inter­net is crazy for cats, I made that my first search term, but the results were skewed by an 18th-cen­tu­ry Dutch artist named Jacob Cats, whose work abounds with cows and sheep.

Car­i­ca­tur­ist Al Hirschfeld’s por­trait of Kath­leen Turn­er in the 1990 Broad­way revival of Ten­nessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  is unavail­able for view­ing due to copy­right restric­tions. (It’s eas­i­ly view­able else­where…)

And the Where’s Wal­do-esque excite­ment I felt upon an anony­mous artist’s Moun­tain Land­scape with Ital­ian-Style Clois­ter faux-Bruegel dis­si­pat­ed when I real­ized this return owed more to the abbre­vi­a­tion of “cat­a­logue” than any feline lurk­ing in the pen-and-ink trees.

Next I entered the word “babies.” I’m not sure why. There cer­tain­ly were a lot of them, almost as many as I encounter on Face­book.

Return­ing to the pre-select­ed high­lights page, I resolved to let the experts pick for me. I saw a charm­ing rab­bit fam­i­ly by John James Audubon and the old favorite by William Blake, top, but what real­ly grabbed me was the first page’s final selec­tion: Hon­oré Daumier’s Two Lawyers Con­vers­ing, cir­ca 1862.

Part of the Mor­gan’s recent­ly closed Drawn to Great­ness: Mas­ter Draw­ings from the Thaw Col­lec­tion exhib­it, the sub­jects’ dress may be archa­ic, but their expres­sions are both humor­ous and ever­green. Lawyer. I had my search term.

My favorite of the sev­en search results is illus­tra­tor Edmund J. Sul­li­van’s Soumin an’ Roumin from 1914. One of a dozen or so draw­ings Sul­li­van made for an updat­ed edi­tion of George Out­ram’s Legal and Oth­er Lyrics, it shows “an old woman in a farm­yard sur­round­ed by live­stock flee­ing three mon­strous lawyers wear­ing wigs and robes and armed with hideous talons instead of hands and feet. One … chas­es a cow with a scourge, the thongs of which end in scor­pi­ons.”

Down­load that one for all your lawyer friends or your lawyer spouse… upload it to a t‑shirt if you’re crafty.

Claud Lovat Fras­er’s set design for Per­gole­si’s short com­ic opera La Ser­va Padrona (or The Maid Turned Mis­tress) at the Lyric Ham­mer­smith doesn’t depict any lawyers, to the best of my knowl­edge, but he him­self was one—also a car­i­ca­tur­ist, lam­poon­ing the lit­er­ary and the­atri­cal lumi­nar­ies of his day, and a sol­dier whose life was cut short due to expo­sure to gas in World War I.

In addi­tion to the Morgan’s par­tic­u­lar­ly well-fleshed-out artist bio for this work, the ver­so is a treat in the form of a print­ed announce­ment for the Chelsea Arts Club Cos­tume Ball.

Browse the Mor­gan Library & Museum’s Draw­ings Online in its entire­ty here, or nar­row it down by artist, School of Art, or per­son­al whim.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

300+ Etch­ings by Rem­brandt Now Free Online, Thanks to the Mor­gan Library & Muse­um

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Reuse & Remix

Down­load 2,500 Beau­ti­ful Wood­block Prints and Draw­ings by Japan­ese Mas­ters (1600–1915)

1.8 Mil­lion Free Works of Art from World-Class Muse­ums: A Meta List of Great Art Avail­able Online

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her New York City  on Feb­ru­ary 8, when she hosts Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain, a vari­ety show born of a sin­gle musty vol­ume — this month: Mas­ter­pieces in Colour, Bas­ten-Lep­age. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Virginia Woolf’s Personal Photo Album Digitized & Put Online by Harvard: See Candid Snapshots of Woolf, Her Family, and Friends from the Bloomsbury Group

Some writ­ers are rest­less by nature, roam­ing like Ernest Hem­ing­way or Hen­ry Miller, set­tling nowhere and every­where. Oth­ers are home­bod­ies, like William Faulkn­er and Vir­ginia Woolf. Their fic­tion reflects their desire to nest in place. Strolling the grounds of Faulkner’s Rowan Oak one swel­ter­ing sum­mer, I swear I saw the author round a cor­ner of the house, lost in thought and wear­ing rid­ing clothes. Vis­i­tors to Vir­ginia Woolf’s home in the vil­lage of Rod­mell in East Sus­sex have sure­ly had sim­i­lar visions.

Woolf’s home con­tains her writ­ing life with­in the lush gar­den grounds and cot­tage walls of the 17th cen­tu­ry Monk’s House—Vir­ginia and Leonard’s retreat, then per­ma­nent home, from 1919 until her sui­cide by drown­ing in the near­by Riv­er Ouse in 1941.

Even in death she belonged to the house; Leonard buried her ash­es beneath an elm in the Monk’s House gar­den. Although Leonard was the gar­den­er, “there are very few entries” in Virginia’s diary “which do not men­tion the gar­den.”

But there are many oth­er ways to meet the author of Mrs. Dal­loway and Jacob’s Room than trav­el­ing to her writer’s lodge, a tidy, tiny house on the Monk’s House grounds that served as her office. Like an avid Instragrammer—or like my moth­er and prob­a­bly yours—Woolf kept care­ful record of her life in pho­to albums, which now reside at Harvard’s Houghton Library. The Monk’s House albums, num­bered 1–6, con­tain images of Woolf, her fam­i­ly, and her many friends, includ­ing such famous mem­bers of the Blooms­bury group as E.M. Forster (above, top), John May­nard Keynes, and Lyt­ton Stra­chey (below, with Woolf and W.B. Yeats, and play­ing chess with sis­ter Mar­jorie). Har­vard has dig­i­tized one album, Monk’s House 4, dat­ed 1939 on the cov­er. You can view its scanned pages at their library site.

There are vaca­tion pho­tos and fam­i­ly pho­tos; land­scapes and pho­tos of pets; clip­pings from news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines; and, of course, the gar­den. The albums span the peri­od 1890 to 1947 (includ­ing addi­tions by Leonard after Virginia’s death). Many of the pho­tos are labeled, many are not. Many of the albums’ pages are left blank. The pho­tographs are arranged in no par­tic­u­lar order. The net effect is that of a life rec­ol­lect­ed in preg­nant images laced with lacu­nae, a psy­cho­log­i­cal theme of so much of Woolf’s writ­ing. Woolf, writes Mag­gie Humm, “believed that pho­tographs could help her to sur­vive those iden­ti­ty-destroy­ing moments of her own life—her inco­her­ent ill­ness­es.”

But pho­tog­ra­phy was also a means for cul­ti­vat­ing rela­tion­ships. Woolf “skill­ful­ly trans­formed friends and moments into art­ful tableaux, and she was sur­round­ed by female friends and fam­i­ly who were also ener­getic pho­tog­ra­phers,” includ­ing her sis­ter, Lady Otto­line Mor­rell, her friend and lover Vita Sackville-West, and her great aunt Julia Mar­garet Cameron. She “fre­quent­ly invit­ed friends to share her reflec­tions. The let­ters and diaries describe a con­stant exchange of pho­tographs, in which the pho­tographs become a meet­ing-place, a con­ver­sa­tion, aide-mémoires, and some­times mech­a­nisms of sur­vival and entice­ment.”

Unlike Monk’s House, a world built and shared with her hus­band, Woolf’s albums rep­re­sent her own per­son­al net­work of rela­tion­ships. They serve as memo­ri­als and med­i­ta­tions after the deaths of those close to her. “Pho­tographs of friends were impor­tant memen­to mori,” such as the por­trait of poet Julian Bell, above, her nephew, who was killed in the Span­ish Civ­il War. The pho­tos doc­u­ment gath­er­ings and impor­tant life events among her social cir­cle. They per­form all the tasks of ordi­nary pho­to albums, and more—showing us the “chain of per­cep­tions” of which per­son­al iden­ti­ty is made in Woolf’s mod­ernist vision, with rep­e­ti­tions and sequences cen­tered around famil­iar objects like her favorite chair.

For fans, avid read­ers, crit­ics, and lit­er­ary his­to­ri­ans, the pho­tographs pro­vide a visu­al record of a life we come to know so well through the let­ters, diaries, and romans à clef. Writ­ing to her sis­ter, Woolf once described paint­ing a por­trait “using dozens of snap­shots in the paint.” Vis­it her pho­to album here at the Har­vard Library site, and flip through the pages of her life in snap­shots.

via @HarvardTheatre

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Vir­ginia Woolf

In the Only Sur­viv­ing Record­ing of Her Voice, Vir­ginia Woolf Explains Why Writ­ing Isn’t a “Craft” (1937)

The Steamy Love Let­ters of Vir­ginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (1925–1929)

Why Should We Read Vir­ginia Woolf? A TED-Ed Ani­ma­tion Makes the Case

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Carl Sagan’s Syllabus & Final Exam for His Course on Critical Thinking (Cornell, 1986)

Though now more than twen­ty years gone, Carl Sagan, through his many books and his clas­sic tele­vi­sion series Cos­moscon­tin­ues to teach us all he knew about life, the uni­verse, and every­thing. Three decades’ worth of stu­dents will also remem­ber learn­ing from him in per­son, in the lec­ture halls of Har­vard and Cor­nell where he kept up his pro­fes­so­r­i­al duties along­side the con­sid­er­able demands of his career as a pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al. If you’ve ever learned any­thing from Sagan, whether from the man him­self or from his work, you know he did­n’t just want to teach human­i­ty about out­er space: he want­ed to teach human­i­ty how to think.

That goal became explic­it in Astron­o­my 490, also known as “Crit­i­cal Think­ing in Sci­ence and Non-Sci­ence Con­text,” which Sagan taught at Cor­nell in 1986. You can read its course mate­ri­als at the Library of Con­gress, whose Jen­nifer Harb­ster writes that they “include men­tion of the impor­tant bal­ance between open­ness to new ideas and skep­ti­cal engage­ment with those ideas in sci­ence,” a point that “ani­mates much of Carl Sagan’s work as an edu­ca­tor and sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tor.”

The LoC offers the course’s intro­duc­tion and syl­labus, its final exam, and Sagan’s lec­ture notes, as well as the infor­ma­tion he assem­bled to design the course in the first place, which show just how wide a range of con­texts for crit­i­cal think­ing he had in mind.

Sagan col­lect­ed exam­ples of report­ing on and pub­lic per­cep­tion of phe­nom­e­na relat­ed to sports play­off seriescar-loan inter­est rates, tobac­co indus­try-spon­sored tobac­co health-risk research, and the num­ber of heli­copters that crash in Los Ange­les. Harb­ster explains that “these notes illus­trate how he want­ed to use stu­dents’ every day expe­ri­ence with things like tele­vi­sion to prompt them to think more skep­ti­cal­ly about how claims are made and war­rant­ed in every­day life.” Though some of his exam­ples  (the lan­guage of cig­a­rette adver­tise­ments, for instance) may look dat­ed now, the course’s core prin­ci­ples have only grown more use­ful, and indeed nec­es­sary, with time — as Sagan, who wrote dark­ly of “the slow decay of sub­stan­tive con­tent in the enor­mous­ly influ­en­tial media,” sure­ly knew they would.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Daniel Den­nett Presents Sev­en Tools For Crit­i­cal Think­ing

Oxford’s Free Course Crit­i­cal Rea­son­ing For Begin­ners Will Teach You to Think Like a Philoso­pher

Carl Sagan’s Under­grad Read­ing List: 40 Essen­tial Texts for a Well-Round­ed Thinker

Carl Sagan Pre­dicts the Decline of Amer­i­ca: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “With­out Notic­ing, Back into Super­sti­tion & Dark­ness” (1995)

Carl Sagan Presents His “Baloney Detec­tion Kit”: 8 Tools for Skep­ti­cal Think­ing

32 Ani­mat­ed Videos by Wire­less Phi­los­o­phy Teach You the Essen­tials of Crit­i­cal Think­ing

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Poem “Nemesis” Gets Unexpectedly Sung to the Tune of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”

“The inter­net made me do it,” says musi­cian Julian Velard. For what­ev­er rea­son, it made him take H.P Love­craft’s 1917 poem “Neme­sis” and mash it up with Bil­ly Joel’s “Piano Man.” Find the orig­i­nal poem below. But know Velard “had to cut a cou­ple lines to get it to fit.” Enjoy.

Thro’ the ghoul-guard­ed gate­ways of slum­ber,
Past the wan-moon’d abysses of night,
I have liv’d o’er my lives with­out num­ber,
I have sound­ed all things with my sight;
And I strug­gle and shriek ere the day­break, being dri­ven to mad­ness with fright.

I have whirl’d with the earth at the dawn­ing,
When the sky was a vaporous flame;
I have seen the dark uni­verse yawn­ing,
Where the black plan­ets roll with­out aim;
Where they roll in their hor­ror unheed­ed, with­out knowl­edge or lus­tre or name.

I had drift­ed o’er seas with­out end­ing,
Under sin­is­ter grey-cloud­ed skies
That the many-fork’d light­ning is rend­ing,
That resound with hys­ter­i­cal cries;
With the moans of invis­i­ble dae­mons that out of the green waters rise.

I have plung’d like a deer thro’ the arch­es
Of the hoary pri­mor­dial grove,
Where the oaks feel the pres­ence that march­es
And stalks on where no spir­it dares rove;
And I flee from a thing that sur­rounds me, and leers thro’ dead branch­es above.

I have stum­bled by cave-rid­den moun­tains
That rise bar­ren and bleak from the plain,
I have drunk of the fog-foetid foun­tains
That ooze down to the marsh and the main;
And in hot cursed tarns I have seen things I care not to gaze on again.

I have scann’d the vast ivy-clad palace,
I have trod its untenant­ed hall,
Where the moon writhing up from the val­leys
Shews the tapes­tried things on the wall;
Strange fig­ures dis­cor­dant­ly woven, which I can­not endure to recall.

I have peer’d from the case­ment in won­der
At the moul­der­ing mead­ows around,
At the many-roof’d vil­lage laid under
The curse of a grave-gir­dled ground;
And from rows of white urn-car­ven mar­ble I lis­ten intent­ly for sound.

I have haunt­ed the tombs of the ages,
I have flown on the pin­ions of fear
Where the smoke-belch­ing Ere­bus rages,
Where the jokulls loom snow-clad and drear:
And in realms where the sun of the desert con­sumes what it nev­er can cheer.

I was old when the Pharaohs first mount­ed
The jewel-deck’d throne by the Nile;
I was old in those epochs uncount­ed
When I, and I only, was vile;
And Man, yet untaint­ed and hap­py, dwelt in bliss on the far Arc­tic isle.

Oh, great was the sin of my spir­it,
And great is the reach of its doom;
Not the pity of Heav­en can cheer it,
Nor can respite be found in the tomb:
Down the infi­nite aeons come beat­ing the wings of unmer­ci­ful gloom.

Thro’ the ghoul-guard­ed gate­ways of slum­ber,
Past the wan-moon’d abysses of night,
I have liv’d o’er my lives with­out num­ber,
I have sound­ed all things with my sight;
And I strug­gle and shriek ere the day­break, being dri­ven to mad­ness with fright.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear 14 Hours of Weird H.P. Love­craft Sto­ries on Hal­loween: “The Call of Cthul­hu,” “The Dun­wich Hor­ror” & More

23 Hours of H.P. Love­craft Sto­ries: Hear Read­ings & Drama­ti­za­tions of “The Call of Cthul­hu,” “The Shad­ow Over Inns­mouth,” & Oth­er Weird Tales

Hear Drama­ti­za­tions of H.P. Lovecraft’s Sto­ries On His Birth­day: “The Call of Cthul­hu,” “The Dun­wich Hor­ror,” & More

H.P. Lovecraft’s Mon­ster Draw­ings: Cthul­hu & Oth­er Crea­tures from the “Bound­less and Hideous Unknown”

H.P. Love­craft Gives Five Tips for Writ­ing a Hor­ror Sto­ry, or Any Piece of “Weird Fic­tion”

Love­craft: Fear of the Unknown (Free Doc­u­men­tary)

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How to Spot a Communist Using Literary Criticism: A 1955 Manual from the U.S. Military

In 1955, the Unit­ed States was enter­ing the final stages of McCarthy­ism or the Sec­ond Red Scare. Dur­ing this low point in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, the US gov­ern­ment looked high and low for Com­mu­nist spies. Enter­tain­ers, edu­ca­tors, gov­ern­ment employ­ees and union mem­bers were often viewed with sus­pi­cion, and many careers and lives were destroyed by the flim­si­est of alle­ga­tions. Con­gress, the FBI, and the US mil­i­tary, they all fueled the 20th cen­tu­ry ver­sion of the Salem Witch tri­als, part­ly by encour­ag­ing Amer­i­cans to look for Com­mu­nists in unsus­pect­ing places.

In the short Armed Forces Infor­ma­tion Film above, you can see the dynam­ic at work. Some Com­mu­nists were out in the open; how­ev­er, oth­ers “worked more silent­ly.” So how to find those hid­den com­mu­nists?

Not to wor­ry, the US mil­i­tary had that cov­ered. In 1955, the U.S. First Army Head­quar­ters pre­pared a man­u­al called How to Spot a Com­mu­nist. Lat­er pub­lished in pop­u­lar Amer­i­can mag­a­zines, the pro­pa­gan­da piece warned read­ers, “there is no fool-proof sys­tem in spot­ting a Com­mu­nist.” “U.S. Com­mu­nists come from all walks of life, pro­fess all faiths, and exer­cise all trades and pro­fes­sions. In addi­tion, the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, USA, has made con­cert­ed efforts to go under­ground for the pur­pose of infil­tra­tion.” And yet the pam­phlet adds, let­ting read­ers breathe a sigh of relief, “there are, for­tu­nate­ly, indi­ca­tions that may give him away. These indi­ca­tions are often sub­tle but always present, for the Com­mu­nist, by rea­son of his “faith” must act and talk along cer­tain lines.” In short, you’ll know a Com­mu­nist not by how he walks, but how he talks. Ask­ing cit­i­zens to become lit­er­ary crit­ics for the sake of nation­al secu­ri­ty, the pub­li­ca­tion told read­ers to watch out for the fol­low­ing:

While a pref­er­ence for long sen­tences is com­mon to most Com­mu­nist writ­ing, a dis­tinct vocab­u­lary pro­vides the more eas­i­ly rec­og­nized fea­ture of the “Com­mu­nist Lan­guage.” Even a super­fi­cial read­ing of an arti­cle writ­ten by a Com­mu­nist or a con­ver­sa­tion with one will prob­a­bly reveal the use of some of the fol­low­ing expres­sions: inte­gra­tive think­ing, van­guard, com­rade, hoo­te­nan­ny, chau­vin­ism, book-burn­ing, syn­cretis­tic faith, bour­geois-nation­al­ism, jin­go­ism, colo­nial­ism, hooli­gan­ism, rul­ing class, pro­gres­sive, dem­a­gogy, dialec­ti­cal, witch-hunt, reac­tionary, exploita­tion, oppres­sive, mate­ri­al­ist.

This list, select­ed at ran­dom, could be extend­ed almost indef­i­nite­ly. While all of the above expres­sions are part of the Eng­lish lan­guage, their use by Com­mu­nists is infi­nite­ly more fre­quent than by the gen­er­al pub­lic…

Rather chill­ing­ly, the pam­phlet also warned that Com­mu­nists revealed them­selves if and when they talked about “McCarthy­ism,” “vio­la­tion of civ­il rights,” “racial or reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion” or “peace.” In oth­er words, they were guilty if they sug­gest­ed that the gov­ern­ment was over­step­ping its bounds.

Accord­ing to Corliss Lam­on­t’s book, Free­dom Is As Free­dom Does, the First Army with­drew the pam­phlet after Mur­ray Kemp­ton slammed it in The New York Post and The New York Times wrote its own scathing op-ed. In 1955, the press could take those risks. The year before, Joseph Welch had faced up to Joe McCarthy, ask­ing with his immor­tal words, “Have you no sense of decen­cy, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decen­cy? A ques­tion some­one will even­tu­al­ly dare to ask again.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post first appeared on our site in March, 2013.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the CIA Secret­ly Fund­ed Abstract Expres­sion­ism Dur­ing the Cold War

Bertolt Brecht Tes­ti­fies Before the House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee (1947)

How the CIA Fund­ed & Sup­port­ed Lit­er­ary Mag­a­zines World­wide While Wag­ing Cul­tur­al War Against Com­mu­nism

MIT’s New Master’s Program Admits Students Without College and High School Degrees … and Helps Solve the World’s Most Pressing Problems


One of the cen­tral prob­lems of inequal­i­ty is that it per­pet­u­ates itself by nature. The inher­ent social cap­i­tal of those born in cer­tain places and class­es grants access to even more social cap­i­tal. Ques­tions of mer­it can seem mar­gin­al when the cre­den­tials required by elite insti­tu­tions prove inac­ces­si­ble to most peo­ple. In an admirable effort to break this cycle glob­al­ly, MIT is now admit­ting stu­dents to a grad­u­ate pro­gram in eco­nom­ics, with­out GRE scores, with­out let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion, and with­out a col­lege degree.

Instead stu­dents begin with some­thing called a “Micro­Mas­ters” pro­gram, which is like “a method used in med­i­cine… ran­dom­ized con­trol tri­als,” reports WBUR. This entry­way removes many of the usu­al bar­ri­ers to access by allow­ing stu­dents to first “take rig­or­ous cours­es online for cred­it, and if they per­form well on exams, to apply for a master’s degree pro­gram on campus”—a degree in data, eco­nom­ics and devel­op­ment pol­i­cy (DEDP), which focus­es on meth­ods for reduc­ing glob­al inequal­i­ty.

 

 

Enroll­ment in the online Micro­Mas­ters cours­es began in Feb­ru­ary of last year (the next round starts on Feb­ru­ary 6, 2018), and the DEDP mas­ter’s pro­gram will start in 2019. “The world of devel­op­ment pol­i­cy has become more and more evi­dence-based over the past 10–15 years,” explains MIT pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics Ben Olken, who co-cre­at­ed the pro­gram with eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sors Esther Duflo and Abhi­jit Baner­jee. “Devel­op­ment prac­ti­tion­ers need to under­stand not just devel­op­ment issues, but how to ana­lyze them rig­or­ous­ly using data. This pro­gram is designed to help fill that gap.”

Duflo, co-founder of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Pover­ty Action Lab (J‑PAL), explains the inno­va­tion of Micro­Mas­ters’ rad­i­cal­ly open admis­sions. (For any­one with access to the inter­net, that is, still a huge bar­ri­er for mil­lions world­wide): “Any­body could do that. At this point, you don’t need to have gone to col­lege. For that mat­ter, you don’t need to have gone to high school.” Stu­dents who are accept­ed after their ini­tial online course work will move into a “blend­ed” pro­gram that com­bines their pri­or work with a semes­ter on MIT’s cam­pus.

Micro­Mas­ters cours­es are priced on a slid­ing scale (from $100 to $1,000), accord­ing to what stu­dents can afford, and costs are nowhere near what tra­di­tion­al stu­dents pay—after hav­ing already paid, or tak­en loans, for a four-year degree, var­i­ous test­ing reg­i­mens, admis­sions costs, liv­ing expens­es, etc. The cur­rent pro­gram might fea­si­bly be scaled up to include oth­er fields in the future. Thus far, over 8,000 stu­dents in the world have enrolled in the Micro­Mas­ters pro­gram. “In total,” Duflo says, “there are 182 coun­tries rep­re­sent­ed,” includ­ing ten per­cent from Chi­na, a large group from India, and “even some from the U.S.”

Stu­dents enrolled in these cours­es design their own eval­u­a­tions of ini­tia­tives around the globe that address dis­par­i­ties in health­care, edu­ca­tion, and oth­er areas. Co-designed by the Pover­ty Action Lab and the Depart­ment of Eco­nom­ics, Micro­Mas­ters asks stu­dents to “grap­ple with some of the world’s most press­ing prob­lems,” includ­ing the prob­lem of access to high­er edu­ca­tion. You can view the require­ments and enroll at the MITx Micro­Mas­ters’ site. Read fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions and learn about the instruc­tors here. And here, lis­ten to WBUR’s short seg­ment on this fas­ci­nat­ing edu­ca­tion­al exper­i­ment.

Find more Micro­Mas­ters sub­jects in our col­lec­tion: Online Degrees & Mini Degrees: Explore Mas­ters, Mini Mas­ters, Bach­e­lors & Mini Bach­e­lors from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence: A Free Online Course from MIT

MIT Is Dig­i­tiz­ing a Huge Archive of Noam Chomsky’s Lec­tures, Papers and Oth­er Doc­u­ments & Will Put Them Online

Intro­duc­tion to Com­put­er Sci­ence and Pro­gram­ming: A Free Course from MIT 

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

How the Fences & Railings Adorning London’s Buildings Doubled (by Design) as Civilian Stretchers in World War II

Lon­don is a par­tic­u­lar­ly rich des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors with an inter­est in World War II:

Win­ston Churchill’s under­ground War Rooms

The Roy­al Air Force Muse­um

Blitz-spe­cif­ic walk­ing tours

…and the scab­by steel fences/railings sur­round­ing a num­ber of South Lon­don hous­ing estates?

These mesh-and-pipe bar­ri­ers look utter­ly unre­mark­able until one hears their ori­gin story—as emer­gency stretch­ers for bear­ing away civil­ian casu­al­ties from the rub­ble of Luft­waffe raids.

The no-frills design was intend­ed less for patient com­fort than easy clean up. Kinks in the long stretch­er poles kept the injured off the ground, and allowed for easy pick up by vol­un­teers from the Civ­il Defence Ser­vice.

Some 600,000 of these stretch­ers were pro­duced in prepa­ra­tion for air­borne attacks. The Blitz killed over 28,000 Lon­don civil­ians. The num­ber of wound­ed was near­ly as high. The man­u­fac­ture of child-sized stretch­ers speaks to the cit­i­zens’ aware­ness that the human price would be ghast­ly indeed.

”I am almost glad we have been bombed,” Queen Eliz­a­beth “the Queen Mum” told a friend after Buck­ing­ham Palace was strafed in 1940. ”Now I feel I can look the East End in the face.”

Born of com­mu­ni­ty spir­it, it’s fit­ting that the stretch­ers con­tin­ue to serve the com­mu­ni­ty, replac­ing more orna­men­tal fences that had been uproot­ed for scrap met­al as part of the war effort.

Few neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents, let alone tourists, seem aware of the fences’ his­to­ry, as evi­denced in the video above.

Per­haps the recent­ly formed Stretch­er Rail­ing Soci­ety—for the pro­mo­tion, pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of Lon­don’s Air Raid Pro­tec­tion Stretch­er Railings—will change that, or at the very least, put up some plaques.

See pho­tos of the stretch­ers in action, then fol­low the Stretch­er Rail­ing Society’s map to their present loca­tions.

via Twist­ed Sifter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

31 Rolls of Film Tak­en by a World War II Sol­dier Get Dis­cov­ered & Devel­oped Before Your Eyes

The Stag­ger­ing Human Cost of World War II Visu­al­ized in a Cre­ative, New Ani­mat­ed Doc­u­men­tary

World War and Soci­ety in the 20th Cen­tu­ry: World War II (A Free Har­vard Course) 

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.