Reference Blog Entries

See Both Sides of the Argument

Katie's picture

Over the past couple weeks, we have been inundated with news reports and social media conversations on current hot-button issues. From the debate about the Confederate flag being flown over the Capitol Building in South Carolina, to the national legalization of same-sex marriage, most people are passionate about their viewpoints on these issues, whether they support or oppose them, and we can find ourselves getting caught up in all the arguing.

How can we get past the debates and learn more about the facts behind the issues? Fortunately our Reference department has two helpful databases that can help you to explore both sides of many commonly-debated topics. You can find similar topics on both databases, but they are laid out in different formats.

Facts on File Issues and Controversies is very useful because once you select an issue, it tells you briefly what the supporters argue and what the opponents argue and then allows you to dig deeper into graphs, charts, and further information on each topic. You can also search a topic to find articles on each subject.

Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context is great because once you select a topic, the results are broken down into featured viewpoints, videos, news articles, academic journals, and any other resources they may have on the topic.

You can use either one to explore a wide range of issues such as animal rights, charter schools, media bias, bullying, negative campaigning, population growth, fracking, racial profiling, and stem cell research.

Hopefully you'll find these databases useful in educating yourself on the hottest issues!

Opposing Viewpoint logo   Issues and Controversies logo

Girls Flew Too

Laura's picture

Several weeks ago I wrote about Wilbur and Orville Wright and the first controlled, piloted, flight of a heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  I was inspired by the new book by David McCullough called The Wright Brothers.

Image - Ivonette Wright Miller

The Wright brothers’ story stands alone in terms of drama and interesting characters.  But I would be remiss if I did not also point out the stories of three of the female members of the Wright family as well. 

In 1911, a few years after the Wright brothers made their famous flight their three nieces asked if they could take a ride.  The youngest niece, Ivonette Wright (Miller) (1803-2007) wrote a first-person account of her ride called Girls Flew Too. It is excerpted from the book Wright Reminiscences and has been digitized along with other primary sources and a wealth of family photographs on Wright State University’s website. 

Another female family member who was central to the lives of the two men and to their success was their younger sister, Katharine (1874-1929).  The New York Times (May 31, 1912) said that “The only other person who entered the close fellowship of the brothers was their sister Katharine.”  When Wilbur died of typhoid in May 1912, his sister Katharine was at his side caring for him.  When Orville was seriously injured in a plane crash in Florida, his sister Katharine left her teaching job to nurse him back to health.  Katharine supported her brothers during their early setbacks. She managed the bicycle shop when they were away testing prototypes.  She provided the money needed to build a Wright Flyer to exhibit in France. The brothers asked her to be there when King Alfonso XIII of Spain honored them. She went to Europe with them and became their spokesperson, interpreter, social manager and the first “air woman”.  For some time she held the world record for experience as a passenger, although Mrs. Hart O. Berg was the first woman to ascend. 

Her story is told in two excellent children’s books; one, a biography titled The Wright Sister  by Richard Maurer and, the second, a picture book titled  My Brothers’ Flying Machine by Jane Yolen. 

The third member of the family that should be mentioned here is Susan Katherine Koerner Wright (1831-1889), the mother of Wilbur and Orville.  Both parents encouraged their children to pursue intellectual interests, but Susan Wright had a knack for making mechanical things which she learned in her father’s carriage shop as a girl and passed along to her children. Orville once said “We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity. In a different kind of environment, our curiosity might have been nipped long before it could have borne fruit.”

Katharine Wright - Book CoverKatharine Wright - Book Cover - 2Wright Brothers Book Cover - McCullough