Documents that Changed the Way We Live

Sponsored by Rowman & Littlefield
Recorded on 09/21/2017

Posted in Primary Sources and Special Collections


We live in a world of documents — bland, nondescript, run-of-the-mill documents that nobody ever notices. Until you understand their stories — and their profound impacts. From the Rosetta Stone to President Obama’s birth certificate to Alfred Nobel’s will, Webster’s Dictionary, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, the “We Can Do It!” poster, the Nineteenth Amendment, and the first Internet Protocol, Joe Janes throws open the idea of a “document,” examining the twists and turns of history through these and other examples throughout the millennia — how they came to be; what they mean; and, in many cases, what they are becoming in a changing world.


Joseph Janes
Associate Professor
University of Washington Information School

A frequent speaker in the US and abroad, Joe Janes is the author of several books, including Documents That Changed the Way We Live, and Library 2020, and has written a monthly column for American Libraries magazine since 2002. He holds the M.L.S. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University, and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Toronto, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the State University of New York at Albany as well as at Syracuse and Washington.