Happy 45th Birthday, Warren M. Robbins Library!

The Warren M. Robbins Library at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. From a collection of a few hundred books in Mr. Robbins’ personal collection in 1971, the Library has grown to a remarkable 50,000 volumes. It enjoys the reputation of being the premier library in the United States for the research and study of the visual arts of Africa. Our collection of 5,000 African more »

No Wheat Chex, and other scientific issues of the 1960s

This is the first post in a two-part series. Lawrence N. Huber devoted several pages of his journal lamenting the fact that the Navy vessel he was aboard had run out of Wheat Chex.  This comes from a young man who was out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, banding thousands of often rather uncooperative birds, making observations of any type of fauna he came across in the Pacific Islands, and swimming in more »

William Woodville Rockhill’s Chinese Language Books

The article A Scholar Diplomat’s Legacy: William Woodville Rockhill and His Chinese Language Books at the Freer Gallery of Art Library, by Lily Kecskes, former Head Librarian of the Freer-Sackler Library, and published in the Journal of East Asian Libraries, number 146 (October 2008), describes an important donation in the history of the Freer-Sackler Library. The article details a 1927 gift of precious and rare Chinese language books to the Smithsonian Institution more »

Batter Up: Early Twentieth Century Baseball Equipment

This post was written by Rebecca Durgin and Shayla Wheat, graduate students in the Smithsonian-Mason History of Decorative Arts Masters Program. Rebecca and Shayla were also Graduate Research Assistants in 2015-2016 at the National Museum of American History Library. Play ball! With baseball season underway across the United States, let’s take a look at early baseball equipment featured in a catalog from the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American more »

Fall 2016 Internship Opportunities

The Smithsonian Libraries are excited to offer a range of internship opportunities for Fall 2016. Although most are part-time and in the DC area, please note the specific hours and geographic location for each.  Applications are open until August 5th, or until filled.

Shells and art in Recreatio mentis et oculi

The post was written by Daniel Euphrat, Digital Imaging Technician. The 1684 book Recreatio mentis et oculi by Filippo Buonanni is mainly a scientific text about mollusks. However, in addition to many informative illustrations of shells, there are a few more fanciful (and slightly terrifying) illustrations of Giuseppe Arcimboldo-style faces made out shells:  

Explore “The history of aquatic animals” this summer

As you head to the seashore or lakeside this summer, take a moment to consider the contributions of Ippolito Salviani to natural history. Salviani’s book on aquatic animals, Aquatilium animalium historiae (The history of aquatic animals), is one of a handful of 16th-century works that helped established ichthyology as a modern science. A professor of medicine at the University of Rome and physician to several Popes, Salviani collected fishes in the markets of Rome for more »

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