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At some point this week we are celebrating National Ask a Stupid Question Day- I can’t tell you when, because reports differ as to whether the Day in question is September 28 or the last school day in September.

According to this article in the Telegraph, the point of the day is to encourage students to ask questions they might otherwise be embarrassed or too shy to ask.

Here at the Hirsh Health Sciences Library, we are all about answering your questions. Ask us anything! Step right up, don’t be shy. We will never tell you that you’ve asked a stupid question or give you a stupid answer!

You know what is kind of stupid? Shaving a baby. Or letting a baby shave himself. Don’t ask us about that.


Gillette Safety Razor Co. (Courtesy Miami University Library Digital Collections:

Aside from questions about baby-shaving, the ONLY stupid question is the one that goes unasked!

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September 21st – 25th is National Postdoc Appreciation Week.

You may be wondering, ‘what exactly is a postdoc?’  According to the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), a postdoc is: “…an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.”

Postdocs work in academic, government, private nonprofit, and industry laboratories.

According to the most recent (2013) Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Sciences and Engineering survey, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, 564 academic institutions in the United States reported a total of 61,942 postdocs in science, engineering and health.  In this survey, Tufts reported 149 postdocs in these fields.

So, wish the postdocs you know a happy Postdoc Appreciation Week!

For more information on postdocs, check out:

National Postdoctoral Association

The Postdoc Series: Insights, Options, Careers (NatureJobs Blog)

The Future of the Postdoc (Nature News Feature)


Post contributed by Laura Pavlech

…the Jewish New Year, that is!

This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Sunday September 13 and runs through nightfall on September 15. Among the customs associated with Rosh Hashanah is sounding the shofar (an instrument traditionally made from a ram’s horn), which you may have been hearing already, as a shofar blast typically accompanies the end of morning services for the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Below is a photo of a Chaplain with the United States Army Forces in the Middle East sounding the shofar during Rosh Hashanah services in 1942.

Digitized by the Gruss Lipper Digital Laboratory at the Center for Jewish History -

Captain Joseph H. Freedman Hq, USAFIME, is shown blowing the Shofar (Courtesy American Jewish Historical Society:

For many, Rosh Hashanah is a time to get together with family and friends, and to enjoy sweet treats to symbolize a sweet year ahead. A traditional indulgence is apples dipped in honey, or any variety of delicious baked goods incorporating either or both ingredients. While my personal favorite method of getting apples and honey into my mouth is with a sweet and savory apple/honey/grilled cheese sandwich, there are a variety of spectacular desserts out there utilizing apples, with recipes both traditional and new. One of my favorite apple desserts is these Apple Brownies, from Amy Traverso’s wonderful The Apple Lover’s CookbookDeceptively simple, quick and easy to make, these fantastic “brownies” have no cocoa in them, but have a toothsome, dare I say fudgy texture that guarantees you won’t miss the chocolate.

So, hit the farmers’ market, scare up some local honey, some early-season apples, and some sweet thoughts for the year ahead.

Shanah Tovah!


We would like to highlight that August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)!  This was established to encourage people of all ages to protect their health by being vaccinated against infectious diseases.  The CDC offers information and Toolkits to help you out.  You can also check out this full 2015 Toolkit put out by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion!




June 23 marks the anniversary of two events of great cultural and political significance to the United States and, in particular, American women.

In 1960, the FDA formally approved Enovid for use as an oral contraceptive, making it the first approved birth control pill in the world. Enovid had been prescribed since 1957 as a treatment for menstrual disorders, but the FDA’s official recognition and approval of its contraceptive properties ushered in a new era of freedom and debate about reproductive rights. You can read more about the development of The Pill in Jonathan Eig’s The Birth of the Pill  and about its impact on American society in America and the Pill by Elaine Tyler May; we have both in our collection.

Representative Patsy Mink, a co-author of Title IX. The law was renamed after her in 2002 as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act

Representative Patsy Mink, a co-author of Title IX. The law was renamed after her in 2002 as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act

Twelve years later, on June 23, 1972, Congress passed Title IX as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It stated, in part that:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”

By banning sex discrimination in schools, Title IX has helped to expand educational and athletic opportunities to women. For Title IX’s 40th anniversary in 2012, The National Women’s Law Center collected a series of stories to honor the breadth its impact. Perspectives come from those who grew up before Title IX, like Alexa Canady, the first African-American woman neurosurgeon, as well as after, like Shree Bose, a prodigious teenage cancer researcher.

You can find the rest of the stories at “Faces of Title IX”.

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We spoke too soon! It would seem that chilly weather is back for a bit. But there’s one benefit to this unwelcome temperature drop: fresh baked goods hot out of the oven are appealing again. And conveniently, there’s a holiday on June 6th that encourages enjoying just that: National Applesauce Cake Day.

Not familiar with it? Neither were we, but it seems that The Internet is. While the origins of National Applesauce Cake Day are unknown, it is agreed that June 6th is the day to celebrate it.  The consensus seems to be that it’s a celebration of the humble and delicious Applesauce Cake, which was lauded as a patriotic dessert during World War I and the Depression. It could be easily made at home and was more economical than other types of cakes, since applesauce reduces the amount of butter, sugar, and eggs needed in a recipe.

Easy and cheap? Sounds perfect for a busy student on a budget. Applesauce is also a healthier alternative to oil in a recipe or a vegan-friendly replacement for eggs and butter.

Intrigued? CNN has a brief discussion of the holiday and some tips for homemade applesauce and  National Day Calendar has some recipe suggestions.

Let us know if you have any recipe suggestions or know of another wacky food-related holiday!

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It’s National Stress Awareness Month!

Take a moment to breathe deep, go for a stroll, do some stretches, or play a game (don’t forget, we have some at the Library Service Desk!).

You could also do this, but we don’t recommend it:


Stress Reduction(Eamon Curry| CC BY 2.0 )

Here at Hirsh Library, we’ll have some activities throughout the month to help you de-stress, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out some of the stress-reduction and relaxation tools up on the Tufts’ Counseling & Mental Health Services website.


…Your estates and your freedom, your children and Wives; A story I’ll tell you that’s truth now indeed, And when you hear of it your hearts will bleed.

The above comes from A Verse Occasioned by the late horrid Massacre in King-Street, a broadside published in Boston in 1770 to express outrage over the events of the evening of March 5th, the event we now know as the Boston Massacre. On the evening of March 5, 1770, a row broke out in front of the Custom House on King Street (now State Street) in Boston. Accounts of what provoked the trouble are mixed, but most include a soldier striking a boy, and a mob of Bostonians replying by hurling both snowballs and insults at the soldier. As the crowd grew more hostile, more soldiers were called in, and eventually nine armed British soldiers faced a rowdy group of over 50 colonists. Eventually, the soldiers fired into the mob, and when the casualties were totaled, five men were dead and six more were injured. The events of that March evening were seized upon by Boston radicals, and spun to create even more animosity toward the Crown. One of the most famous pieces of propaganda is Paul Revere’s compelling (if inaccurate) depiction of the event, which circulated wildly in the spring of 1770.

Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770.” Boston, 1770. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Of course, this event took place a short walk from the Hirsh Health Sciences Library. Commemorate this event with a Boston Massacre Study Break! Start on the Freedom Trail, and visit the Boston Massacre Marker on the corner of State and Congress Streets, right near the Old State House. Head back toward campus on Tremont Street, and stop in at the Granary Burying Ground. You’ll find the grave marker for the victims of the Massacre next to Samuel Adams. You can also visit with John Hancock and Paul Revere while you’re there. As you follow Tremont toward Boylston Street, take a detour into Boston Common at Avery Street, and enjoy the beautiful Boston Massacre/Crispus Attucks Monument, erected in 1888. If your interest is piqued, there is a full day of (ahem) “family friendly events” planned at the Old State House Museum, including activities for little ones and culminating in the annual reenactment of the Boston Massacre at 7:00 pm this Saturday.

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Today is the Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Lunar New Year since the celebration begins on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.  2015 is the Year of the Sheep. It’s also called the Spring Festival as it marks the beginning of warmer weather in China, even though Boston will have to wait a little longer for some warmer days…

John Stephen Dwyer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

John Stephen Dwyer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

And because our campus is located very conveniently in Chinatown, be sure to check out the Chinese New Year Parade! It’s the largest annual celebration in Boston’s Chinatown with lion dancers, music, and firecrackers—and if you haven’t tried the plethora of food options in our neighborhood, what a better time to venture out and celebrate? This year’s parade will be held on Sunday, March 1st and is FREE!  Click here to learn more.

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January is apparently National Soup Month (who knew?!), at least, it is according to the good people at Campbell’s, and I feel like they know a thing or two about soup. And here at the Hirsh Health Sciences Library, we know a bit about soup, too.

For example, according to this article published in The Nurse Practitioner, there may just be something to the idea that chicken soup is a valid treatment for the common cold. According to this paper, it provides relief from symptoms and decreases the inflammatory response related to viral illness- in other words, chicken soup might actually make you feel better when you’re sick. SCIENCE!

Cure for the Common Cold?  (courtesy University of Washington Libraries. Digital Collections:,360)

Cure for the Common Cold?
(courtesy University of Washington Libraries. Digital Collections:,360)

Regardless of its efficacy, who doesn’t like a hot bowl of soup in the winter, regardless of whether you’re under the weather? Research and Instruction Librarian Jane recommended this pot of Fire Roasted Tomato Soup for a yummy meal. If you’re looking for a weekend project (it is supposed to snow, after all), make someone’s day with a labor-intensive batch of delicious Chicken Matzo Ball Soup (aka Jewish Penicillin). For vegetarians/vegans/spicy food lovers, this Lentil and Coconut Soup with Cilantro-Habanero Gremolata is delicious and cheap to make. It also makes enough soup to freeze for the next time you feel the sniffles coming on.

There’s a proverb (of Spanish or Portuguese origin, apparently) that states: “Of soup and love, the first is best.” I offer no opinion on the matter, but wish you a wonderful National Soup Month.


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