Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In Celebration of Banned Books Week

I wanted to post something for banned books week, but what else is there to say? In the United States, banned books are big news. Anyone with even a remote interest in the subject of books seems to post about this topic.

A different kind of blog post earlier this week caught my eye. It was written about a woman in India:
"My post on Banned Books Week, and why we don't have it in India": 

It reminded me of the importance of this day and what it means to Americans. I thought perhaps I'd approach the topic from an International angle. I am thankful to the author for sharing her very interesting views.

Then I found this article:
A comeback for banned books in Indonesia: After chasing out former President Ben Ali and his Family, Tunisians can't stop reading about them

This provided more reminders about the freedoms we enjoy in my country.

But, it was an American article that made me decide just to reiterate my opposition to censorship rather than seeking another clever angle. Banned Books Week, 5 Books Almost Anyone Would Ban: Even Ardent Opponents of Censorship Could Hesitate When It Comes to Titles Like These. I opened the page with some excitement. I thought maybe indeed here was a new angle -- Books that I would actually want to ban. Here's the let down, I did not even hesitate despite the article's title.  An argument that comes up again and again for those who want to ban books is that these books are so awful that they are "seriously taboo" topics and no one should read them.

The first book listed was Mein Kampf and my bubble was burst right off the bat. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I most certainly want this book to be available and read. I want people to know about the history of the Holocaust and why it occurred. I think the same should be said of number 2, which is Osama bin Laden's "Messages to the World." 3,4 and 5 are also terrible, but should not be banned. Banning something terrible doesn't make it go away. It just makes us less able to deal with the issues when the ideas it spews come up again in the future.

So, I guess I really have nothing new to add to this argument. It will keep coming up again and again. And though I have nothing new to add, it bears repeating over and over so we never forget why we celebrate "Banned Books Week." I have been verbally attacked for my views on this issue. I suspect that this posting may encourage new comments arguing against my views. Please, before you comment negatively, please read here and here. Feel free to reword what has been said because it has indeed all been said before. Don't expect that you will change my mind.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clever Ways to Share Your Memories

I have some very clever neighbors. Yet, when I sidle up to a conversation about recording memories at the neighborhood potluck, some of them feel the need to qualify their statements, "Well, she's the professional. she probably has better ways to do this." Despite their reaction to my presence, I am usually fascinated by their stories and try to just listen so I can learn better ways to  document so that I can share them with you.

For example, I have one neighbor who has a beautiful garden. She cans food for the winter. She raises chickens. She home schools her daughter. She has a PhD in education and teaches at a local college in her spare time. Phew! She is a a very creative person and I was thrilled when she shared her secret about creating a memory archive for her five-year-old. "Once a year we write a letter to our daughter. In that letter we put information about the changes we have seen in her over the course of the year. We talk about special events that occurred and fun times we've shared." This struck me as a remarkable way to make sure the highlights of her daughter's life were recorded despite everything else that keeps this family busy.

I have neighbors who talk about making quilts out of t-shirts that document events that are important to them. I have a neighbor who keeps a beautiful hope chest that she treasures and her love for the heirlooms she places in it is palpable. One neighbor talked about writing a page to record her memories of a childhood friendship. Her entry was to be placed as just one among many in a birthday book for a friend who was turning 40.

Keeping a collection of family papers that reflect your life does not have to be a chore. As one attempts to document family history, one should explore one's talents and use a documentation style that suits one's personal style. For example, every year, my daughter and I make a thankful tree at Thanksgiving. This documents the things for which we are most thankful at that point in our lives. It's a fun way for us to be artistic and to invite our loved ones to share their thoughts with us on one of our favorite holidays. I save the tree each year and when we finish the next year's tree compare the two to see how we have changed and grown. Documentation does not need to take the form of photos, diaries, letters and the traditional documents we tend to think of as personal papers that belong in a family archives.


Explore more ways to document your life with me in my upcoming book The Unofficial Family Archivist: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining Personal Papers, Photographs and Memorabilia due out in October.

What are your creative methods for documenting your life?

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - Orphan Suitors

I have been saving this photo for a rainy day. (Not literally...though it is literally a rainy day here in New Hampshire. So that works well, I guess.) This image just tickles my funny bone. I often find orphan images of people outdoors in a strange location and I find this one particularly appealing.

Orphan images are those that have been separated from their owners with no identification that links them to those who took the photos. Sometimes, orphan photos have some identification, but you need to dig to figure out who the people really are. Sometimes these images are labeled with a name. If you are lucky, you'll get a first AND a last name. Sometimes these images have a location with or without a name. Sometimes the images list a photography studio, though that doesn't happen often with these outdoor images and is instead a clue when looking at formal portraits. All of these elements can help you do research to find more information about the image.

This particular image has no identification, but it reminds me of a spot in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire. When the leaves fall in another month, I plan to check out a local park that I know well from its old birches. I found this picture at an antique shop within thirty minutes of that park. Many times the images I find in shops are not from the area, but making the assumption that the image is from around here gives me a good place to start.

This image is pleasing to me because it ties the past to the present. We often don't think about our ancestors being silly and climbing trees. This could be me in a tree. (This even reminds me of a photo I have of myself upside down with  my sister, hanging from a fallen tree in the woods.Though we were not dressed nearly as finely.) The old-fashioned garb here is a bit surprising as my mind sorts out a familiar landscape with the people sporting trends from the past. People have been silly forever, I bet. Yet, somehow we focus on dates and names and events. We can forget the simple humanity of those who came before us -- the small joyful moments and memories that dotted their lives. This is a part of history that I love -- seeing the common threads that bind people. This lucky lady has two handsome beaus with her. Is one her boyfriend? Is the person taking the picture another girlfriend? Why did they decide to pose in the tree? I am so happy that they did. I can relate and thus, history and their lives are more meaningful to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Food Memories Contest. Be part of the Life in Context Project!

Sue West of Space4U and I teamed up almost two years ago. Sue is a professional organizer and I am an archivist. We are from very different worlds that overlap in the area of organization. Sue takes an "Organize for a Fresh Start" approach that helps you find your way-- to find a balance. I take an organize to document community approach that invites you to explore your role and examine your personal history. Our collaboration is turning out to be the perfect partnership.. Our specializations come together in a holistic way, helping people better understand themselves and the world around them. The Life in Context Project explores ways you can organize your life and your legacy, and tell your important "heirloom" stories to pass on to the next generation.

We are creating the first in a series of workbooks to help you document what is meaningful to you. This series aims to support you while you define the values and traditions you want to pass on to future generations. The workbooks will help you mold your legacy.  Food Memories – our first workbook – examines the role of food in your life. This resource will help you consider the meals, the events, and the heirloom serving pieces tools that define your precious food memories.

We are looking for your food related stories to include in the book.
We will choose our favorites to publish alongside our tips for telling your story, organizing your life, and preserving your heritage. The writers of stories chosen for inclusion will be mailed free copies of the workbook when it is completed later this year. One grand winner will then be randomly chosen from winning entries to attend our upcoming “Life in Context” webinar for free.

Email with your entries in pdf format or with questions.

Here’s what we are seeking:
- Write 2-4 paragraphs about a food related object that is important to you.  Record your memory associated with it.

- Consider if there are people involved with this memory. Why are these people important to this particular memory?

- Do you have related documentation? Can this be put into a cultural context? When did this happen? To what community does this relate?

- See our worksheet for help with organizing and recording your thoughts here:


Sue and I have chosen a couple of our own food memories to write up as samples for you:

Melissa’s Food Memory #1 – Bagels

A heavenly smell would fill the air when my mother brought a bag back from the bagel store in our neighborhood. Such places dotted the retail areas where I grew up on Long Island in New York State. Behind the counters were multiple flavors of cream cheese and lox. Most commonly in my parents’ home, we ate the bread-stuffs with butter and plain cream cheese. On weekends, we would slap cold cuts between a sliced bagel or turn it into a pizza with sauce and cheese.  We used cherry preserves (the kind with the fat red fruit spread throughout the sweet sticky goo) around Passover time when we also ate the treat on our matzo. Once in awhile, mom would excitedly shuffle her three kids off to school and run to the gourmet bagel shop for special flavors to share with her girlfriends over morning tea. I spent the day hoping that some flavors — maybe chocolate, chives or pineapple — would be left for us to sample when we got home.

I remember the bagels, but I can barely remember how they tasted and I cannot eat them anymore. My daughter will readily tell you the story. I have a photo essay I made that I made to hang in my kitchen when I was first diagnosed. I made a collage of four separate pictures of four different off limits breakfasts. My daughter finds this quite funny, in a way that only a small seven year old can find such things funny. “Remember that photo that was in the kitchen that you called ‘Not My Breakfast’ since you can’t eat those things because you have Celiac Disease, Mom?” She smiles at me as if she is proud that she understands this inside joke that tries to convey my loss of bagels to the world. This beautiful girl was impossible for me to conceive ten years ago because of a disease that went undiagnosed for twenty years (even though it is considered the number one case of unexplained infertility.) My daughter does not understand the full irony.

When a person is diagnosed with Celiac – a disorder that makes the body unable to process the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye – that person needs to eliminate the offending foods entirely from the diet. At first, it is a difficult thing to do. Some, like me, even get nauseous at the smell of bread for a short time.  I remember walking into a bagel shop during my “recovery” period to get some lunch for my husband. I had to turn around and walk out because of my physical discomfort. It was as if my favorite food had turned on me, until I put a new spin on it and realized it was just warning me away like an old friend looking out for my best interest.

To me, a bagel is one sign in my life that represents a lot. It embodies my Jewish heritage and my New York upbringing. It also stands for what I now cannot eat. It represents the struggle I went through to become a mother and to live a healthy, normal life. My daughter does not hope for me to save her some of my special food when I shuffle her off to school. Instead she anticipates that I will think of her and stop in the local bakery to get her a fancy sugar cookie…New Hampshire bagels are just not the same as New York ones anyway.

Sue’s – Rice Krispy Treats Food Memory

Rice Krispy Treats are back in vogue! At a favorite restaurant & cafĂ© recently, the dessert tray included a childhood favorite, Rice Krispy Treats – only different. The treat had a peanut butter layer, with chocolate frosting.  Like Proust and his Madeleines, I was transported to my childhood.

Aunt Ludy and Aunt Esther, “the girls” as they were called by my mother, always made and brought RKT’s to Christmas, along with homemade fudge. They started their tradition in the days when my grandmother hosted Christmas, which would have begun in the 1950’s. It was a very sad Christmas the years following Esther’s death; Ludy did not join us but sent her gift.

We called them “the girls” because in those days, that’s what you called women of a certain age who had not yet married. Story was, Aunt Esther had turned down a marriage proposal. Aunt Ludy we didn’t know much about, but she never married.

My great aunts lived into their 90’s. Their personalities were very different. Esther had a lively sense of humor. She was the rebel of the two of them.  Ludy took great care of her older sister; her life was more planned and structured and she liked it that way. In their later years, Ludy would become Esther’s caregiver at their childhood home.

They inspired me just because they’d never married. In a time when most women in my family were married, and assumed from a young age that they would find Prince Charming, these two lived together in the house that their father built around 1900.

They were the biggest of Red Sox fans, taking the T into Boston until they were well into their 80’s. They had season tickets as far back as my mother can remember. Season tickets!

For their work, Ludy was high up on the Girl Scouts in New England, working out of their headquarters. Esther worked for the Universalist Association. In the year before I was born (1959), my mother worked across the street from Aunt Esther in Boston. Mom worked for the Unitarian association, for Dana McLean Greeley, who became the first president of the merger of Unitarians and Universalists.
Kellogg’s had created Rice Crispy cereal in 1928 and it was fine as far as cereals go, but in 1939, when Mildred and her friend Malitta needed an idea to help their Campfire Girls raise money, they put their heads together and a new delicious food was invented.  It was Rice Crispy Treats!

The original recipe:
2001: Students are working to make Iowa State’s annual spring celebration a record-breaking – and tasty – event by building the world’s biggest Rice Krispie Treat. (ISU is the alma mater of Mildred Day, who invented the Rice Krispy Treat recipe while working at Kellogg’s.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Value and Pitfalls of Tagging Tweets

Hashtags are used on Twitter so twitter users (tweeters) can indicate appropriate keywords for their postings (tweets.) Users interested in a particular topic can search for keywords to easily find information about a subject of their choosing. For example, I often tweet about archives. So, at the end of a tweet on the subject I use the appropriate hashtag, which is #archives. I use the software Tweetdeck for most of my Twitter interactions. In Tweetdeck, I keep open a column for that #archives listing, so I can see what others are posting on the subject. I also usually have open #sschat (Social Studies chat) and #history (self-explanatory.) Lately, I've been following #twitterstorians to see what that's all about because it seems like a bit of a hodge-podge.

And that is precisely what can be the downfall of the hashtag system. They are user imposed standards. There is no one body making sure people are using hashtags in a uniform manner. For example, people post #archives, #archive, #archivist, and #archivists. In theory, I am interested in all of those areas. Yet, I do not wish to have columns open for all of them. It would take a lot more browsing and time to find interesting information. I just cross my fingers and hope that most of the news filed under related hashtags eventually makes its way to #archives. Even the use of the term "archives" has been a problem with non-archivist computer people telling the archivists to go away and leave their tag alone because they have their own agenda for it. There are ways that people can try to check how a term is being used before applying it. There are ways for people to lay some kind of claim to a term, as with the use of Twubs, but there is still no guarantee that it will stick. (Where are the catalogers when you need them?)

I remember a problem a year ago related to this issue. I think it related to the #AskaCurator event that invited individuals to post questions to curators who were standing by all over the world to answer questions. There was some confusion about whether the hastag was #askcurators or #askacurator. (I could be getting my events mixed up. It could have been #askarchivists or some other similar day. Nonetheless, there was confusion and lack of standardization and some people were tagging one way and others were tagging another way.)

The use of symbols is old hat for librarians and those in related fields. We were using what are called Boolean operators long before the Internet was popular. Symbols such as +, -, * and parentheses help us explain exactly what we are seeking when we search for information. For example, arch* means in my search find me everything that begins with "arch." the ending could be "ives," or "ive", or "ivist." It could event be "aeology." When I began using Twitter a couple of years ago, # seemed somewhat natural to me. Categorizing my world is the norm and symbols are familiar.

For me, I find hashtags useful for three main things. 1. for telling others interested in a particular topic about something interesting I am doing that relates to it or for sharing news I have found on the subject 2. for following a few select hashtags to stay on top of specific topics and 3. for helping me track trends in my own posts. The third area is perhaps the most useful to me because I know what my hashtags mean to me. I know which ones I use for different topics. At the end of last year, I did a year end review of archives related topics that were hot online in 2010. I realized after going through all of my tweets to compile the list that my hashtags could be really, really handy at year's end to pull out these trends. My hashtags help me find information about specific subjects so that I can go back and review them.

Hashtags are a really useful tool and there are many ways that you can use them to your advantage.  If you don't use them yet, give them a try. If you do use them, think about how and why you are using them and see if you can make them more valuable to you and your social media audience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Place, Changed

Coincidentally, after I blogged about Capturing a Sense of Place yesterday, I received prints of my old neighborhood from a childhood friend. Despite my almost one-quarter century away from the place, the appearance of the home in which I was raised shocked me. My father had landscaped the whole yard. It now favors grass. More recent residents of the home have also removed a fence and in-ground pool. Trees in front are much larger. My favorite tree, a beautiful dogwood by my bedroom window is not only gone, but there is no trace that it was there. Even the facade of the building is different. The plot even look smaller than I remember. If my friend hadn't told me that this was my home, I would never have guessed it.

I remember when I was growing up how my mother reminisced about her old neighborhood in the Bronx. I remember passing through the area in a car and looking at burned out city buildings thinking, "This is near where mom grew up?!" And now I know somewhat how she felt though I'm sure that place was even more unrecognizable to her than my old home is to me.

I have been told that my childhood home has changed hands many times since I lived there. Some of the neighbors with whom I grew up remain. We have created a Facebook page to document our reminiscences, to share memories, and also to touch base to see where we all our now.

I remember last year reading about a town that encouraged residents to keep a house scrapbook in the front hall closet. (Unfortunately, the web page I had bookmarked for the story has been removed.)The scrapbook gets passed from old residents to new resident so that the house history always stays with the house for the next resident to see. I love this idea and think it would be a great project for local historical societies.

My neighborhood was built just a few years before my parents moved in. They told me that the area was once covered with potato farms. I now wonder what this site looked like 25 years before I arrived there in my mother's arms. I think that a little research work may be in order.
Have you documented your childhood home?
How does it differ from where you are today?
Are you in touch with former community members?
What memories do you share? How do your memories differ?
Can you combine your memories to create a resource that tells about your life?
How can you use, share, and pass this resource on to future generations?
Can you involve your local historical society in encouraging residents to create house histories that remain with the house generation after generation?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Capturing a Sense of Place

This morning on my walk I was admiring the trees and the sounds of frogs, as I often do in my New Hampshire neighborhood. I also had cause to reflect on my hometown of New York, which has been in the news quite a bit over the past few days -- with the 9/11 remembrances and a contentious congressional election. This invited me to reflect on how different my adopted home is from my birthplace. I am fascinated by the idea of "sense of place" and how it affects us and thought this was a good connection to make and address on my blog this morning.With a book due out in a short while, this week I am polishing up some old thoughts and am unable to spend much time to delve into new ideas. So, I thought I would share an excerpt on this topic from  my upcoming publication called, The Unofficial Family Archivist: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining Family Papers, Photographs, and Memorabilia. I hope that you enjoy this bit and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


The backdrop to your personal story provides a valuable bit of information toward the understanding of your personal history, but it is one of those intangible elements that you will likely need to consciously convey and incorporate into your documentation efforts. A setting can influence us and the events around us in poignant ways. “Who am I?” has been influenced by the places I have lived.
For example, I grew up in a suburban environment, in a town about 45 minutes outside of New York City. I could walk to school and to the grocery store. Wildlife consisted of birds, bugs, and an occasional raccoon in the garbage. Sidewalks were the norm, and my cul-de-sac enabled me to learn to ride my bike without fear of being hit by a car. I now live in a more rural suburban environment. I need a vehicle to get almost anywhere. The hills are too big for easily learning to ride a bike. I have had deer, fox, and fisher cats in my yard. Frogs keep me up at night instead of traffic, and friends have told me that there is a bear in the neighborhood. My formative years were certainly different from my daughter’s early years, and her sense of self has a distinctly New Hampshire tinge to it. When we visit a city, she is struck by all the people and buildings, noting them as distinctly different from her norm.
The place from which we come gives us shared memories with other community members.[1] The place may also deeply impact us so that our “otherness” is obvious to others. Transmitting remembrances about our spaces is vital toward helping others understand us. One who lives in the inner city will have a very different perspective than one who lives in the country. A person of a particular nationality will also have alternate views from someone from another place. Explaining these differences is vital toward promoting harmony among diverse groups and can help us better understand ourselves and each other.
Try to capture your environment in your documentation work. Use visual tools to relay your setting to others. Describe what makes the place or places you have lived unique. Try to convey how your sense of place has impacted you. Use sense of place as a thread through your other documentation work, or focus exclusively on it by describing the setting directly. To convey your sense of place, think about the location itself. Consider the buildings, natural elements, and infrastructure that you recognize as your own. Also mull over the cultural environment that your residence has that makes it unique. What characteristics of the community reflect its uniqueness? What language, ideas, history, and recurring events are distinctive elements of this place?

[1] For more on “sense of place,” please see Robert Archibald’s A Place to Remember: Using History to Build Community (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 1999).

Figure 36. I asked my mother to send me photos of her and Dad from their childhoods that demonstrate a sense of place. Their city upbringings are evident in these images. Mom stands with her little brother in a carriage. Dad is the little boy on the lower left in the other image.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Identifying with the Mill Girls

I live just outside of the largest city in New Hampshire. Manchester was part of the New England mill movement that is best known for the production of textiles and the buildings from the city's manufacturing history remain today. My interest in the mills of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries started when I read Dickens in high school and were kicked into high gear when I was introduced to the "mill girls" in Lucy Larcom's A New England Girlhood, outlined from memory. The awareness of the hard life of these laborers made a strong impression on me that includes pride, a little bit of romanticism, and a much stronger awareness that my life is much easier than the lives of my ancestors. My interest in mill life grew when I worked as the archivist at the Waltham Public Library in Waltham, Massachusetts -- the birthplace of the American Industrial revolution. The mills in my area remind me of putting myself into the shoes of Lucy Larcom and the Waltham workers. Re-purposed mill buildings are an opportunity for cultural heritage professionals to make history more relevant to folks today by reminding them of this heritage and how such times allowed us to move forward to achieve a more comfortable way of life.

Recently, I took my daughter to a new dance studio, located in the Amoskeag Mill building known as Langer Place on South Commercial Street. We admired the wooden stairs going up and were greeted at our destination by the machinery to the left. (Bonus!) I tend to arrive to my destinations early (when I'm not late) because I have no sense of direction, so I try to give myself enough time to get lost and then find my way. Luckily, there were few necessary U-turns on our car trip over so we had time to explore. I asked my daughter what she thought this machine does. I had no clue and when she showed a little bit of interest I enthusiastically said, "Let's explore!"
Down the hall, we came upon a second machine. This one looks like it was manned by three people. My daughter noted that it has three "steering wheels" and was much bigger than the other. There was no label of any kind on the machinery. It stood like an old ghost watching over a historical landmark; its former life forgotten and ignored by current building occupants.
I turned away from the machinery and I was breathless. I've seen buildings like this before, but each time I enter one I feel transported back to the nineteenth century with Lucy Larcom. The wide empty hallway must have once been filled with this machinery. I told my daughter to picture these machines up and down the hall and to picture the mill girls working them. (Thanks to "American Girl" and the story of Samantha, my eight-year-old is familiar with mill girls and child labor.) The quiet we experienced was in direct contrast to the imaginary scene in my head, punctuated by the thought of loud machinery at work.
I was so pleased that the mill retained some of its artifacts to remind us of its history, but I think few people would notice. A few minutes into our explorations, another mom and her daughter came up a back stairwell into the large hall, looking for the dance studio. I told her that it was just down the hall and my daughter and I were headed there too. We were just exploring. "Oh," the woman said, turning and heading to our final destination. I wanted to jump up and down and shout, "Wait! You have some time! Check this out!" 

What I want to I really just a history geek or can we do a better job of getting people to stop and consider their history? What secret, fascinating stories can our historic buildings share with non-professionals? How can we better appreciate the Amoskeag Mill building's movement from housing mill girls to harboring tiny ballroom dancers?

For information about the Amoskeag Mills, see the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company Collection located at Harvard Business School.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop: Deciphering Handwriting

I am not an expert in this area by any means, but it is a fascinating part of archives, history and genealogy work. What does one do when one comes across something that looks like this?

Whether it's old fashioned handwriting or just plain bad handwriting, documents and ephemera with script like this can be a headache for an archivist or researcher. However, it can also be just plain fun.

I first started really thinking about old handwriting when I stumbled across a book on the subject in the early 1990s while working as a local history librarian / archivist. Since that time, the study of old handwriting has become a hot topic for books and on the Internet.  Here are some helpful and interesting resources I've found to help you look into this subject some more:

Deciphering Old Handwriting from a genealogy course taught by Sabina J. Murray - a fascinating look out how one person solved a name dilemma

Handwriting in America - An interesting history from the University of Buffalo

How to Read 18th Century British-American Writing - brought to you by DoHistory, one of my favorite online sites for learning

The Impossible Art of Deciphering Manuscripts - from, a look at how professional transcribers tackle the issue

Tricks for Deciphering that Careless Writing! - from Ontario Genealogical Society's Ontario Branch, just a few handy pointers

Unexpected Google Trick: Translate Bad Handwriting - auto correct to the rescue!

My mysterious postcard has been a puzzle for some months now. I keep taking it out of its folder and putting it back in frustration. One day, I will need to sit in earnest to figure this it...if you can help me decipher it, I would much appreciate it.  The front of my postcard looks like this:
 Doesn't this scene make you really curious about the author of this postcard and what the postcard says? I have so many questions about it!

And there may be some other uses for this knowledge besides deciphering historical documents. I am also hoping that these tips will help me read my own poor penmanship. Am I the only one who writes notes to myself that I can't read?

Here's a fun little bit of trivia I picked up... According to Wikipedia and other sites, Ovaltine was developed in Berne, Switzerland, where it is known by its original name. In English speaking markets it is called Ovaltine because of a misreading of the patent paperwork due to poor handwriting!