13

January

2010

15

Shining More Light on a “Hidden” Collection

by Jim Roan

Major improvements have been made recently to accessing the Smithsonian Libraries’ extraordinary collection of trade literature. Making an on-line inventory of the entire 430,000-plus piece collection was the first major step—truly a milestone for the collection. Now another significant improvement has recently been completed: the collection can be searched on the web. For the first time, researchers can access the entire collection from one location: the SIRIS Collections Search Center

Watches.search.fx 


This search could then be refined using the left-hand column's breakdown of categories to narrow the search. For example, on this simple search of “watches,” the first item is an oil painting from the National Portrait Gallery, the second is James Doolittle’s pocket watch, from the National Air and Space Museum,  the third is an advertisement from the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History. This gives you an example of the rich contextual potential of such searches. Then, you can confine your search just to trade catalogs. Also on the left hand side of the page, under material type,  click on the category “trade catalogs.”  With the search term “watches,” this yields 496 hits.

Watches.search.tlt.fx 

Now, your search is set for displaying only the  trade catalogs. On the first record displayed, for the Waterbury Watch Company, you can see that the library's holdings for this company comprise six items or pieces. On the right hand side of this record is the “expand” button. Click on this and you will see a more detailed description of the materials for this company, including topics(or subjects) for the kind of goods produced by this company. Click on one of those and you will be taken to a display of all the records for which that topic is tagged. In the "expand" mode you can also see dates for the years covered in the company's collection; some of the descriptive note field; and whether there are any special contents, such as product samples. However, clicking on the  record for one of the catalogs does not mean you will see images of the actual catalog. Right now, more than likely you won’t, but we’re making strides in this area too. See the Galaxy of Images for a variety of images from the trade literature collection. We are continually adding images and catalogs to the data base, so check back with us every now and then to see what’s new. Try the SIRIS Collections Search Center and let us know what you think of it. We think it helps shine the light more brightly on what was once considered a “hidden” collection. More information on the trade literature collection can be found by contacting the Smithsonian Libraries' National Museum of American History branch library.—Jim Roan

15 thoughts on “Shining More Light on a “Hidden” Collection

  1. Michael Menedetter

    Hello!
    Yesterday I found this document in Your library:
    “Illustriertes Preis-Verzeichniss / der Astronomischen und Optischen Instrumente”
    (http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/trade-literature/scientific-instruments/files/51793/index.htm).
    The informations provided in this document are very interesting for me – thank You for this scan!
    But I found two errors in the description:
    1. The document was printed in “Wien” ( not “Wein” )
    2. The country was “Österreich” = “Austria” ( not “Germany” ).
    ( The all-correct name would be “Austro-Hungarian Empire”. )
    I would be very happy, if You could correct the erroneous information.
    Greetings from Wien (Vienna), Österreich (Austria), Europe
    Michael Menedetter

    Reply
  2. M.Hunter

    I love SIRIS! Since I signed up, I’ve been delighted by all the posts. It definitely touches the heartstrings of curators, registrars, and archivists, who all have gems in their collections that they want to share with the world. Hearty thanks to everyone who posts and who supports them, for making this great material visible and meaningful.

    Reply
  3. Airless Paint Sprayers

    Hello!
    Yesterday I found this document in Your library:
    “Illustriertes Preis-Verzeichniss / der Astronomischen und Optischen Instrumente”
    (http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/trade-literature/scientific-instruments/files/51793/index.htm).
    The informations provided in this document are very interesting for me – thank You for this scan!
    But I found two errors in the description:
    1. The document was printed in “Wien” ( not “Wein” )
    2. The country was “Österreich” = “Austria” ( not “Germany” ).
    ( The all-correct name would be “Austro-Hungarian Empire”. )
    I would be very happy, if You could correct the erroneous information.
    Greetings from Wien (Vienna), Österreich (Austria), Europe
    Michael Menedetter

    Reply
  4. Digital Library

    Mr. Menedetter,
    Apologies for the very late reply to your comment. Thank you for spotting those errors! We have corrected them. Please let us know if you spot any others.
    thanks!
    Keri @ SIL Digital Library

    Reply
  5. Matthew Waite

    We have an old Pritzlaff rotary sewing machine, made in the USA, but I don’t know when. While your library has long list of sewing machines, Pritzlaff is not listed.

    Reply
  6. Alan Hodgson

    I have an original GREIST Rotary Buttonholer,with instructions % original box. Is it of any value. Original value was 5Gns.

    Reply
  7. jerry carwright

    Thats just brilliant that the collection can now be searched for on the web instead of having to drive for miles to get to a location where you could read the collection of trade literature.

    Reply
  8. Mark E. Wiedman

    Good day.
    I have collected travel literature (‘points of interest’ brochures, etc.) during my travels in the U.S. I’d like to donate the material to the Smithsonian.
    Please let me know if you are interested or if you need more information.
    If you are not interested, do you know of any other organization which might have an interest?
    Thank you for your time.
    Mark

    Reply
  9. Smithsonian Digital Library

    Dear Mr. Wiedman,
    Although we do not have a need for your travel literature in the Smithsonian Libraries, we have forwarded your comment to the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center to see if your collection would be of interest to them.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Roger C. Chidester

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful collection of trade literature you have made available to us sewing machine collectors. The collection is a great source for researching old sewing machines. I for one and I am sure others also look forward to seeing some of the documents you have listed but have not yet made available for reasons you list such as poor quality documents. Speaking for many we would love to have any bits and pieces of information that you can provide. Considering we are working with old machines that are far from perfect just as some of your documents probably are. Humbly we ask can you please do what you can to scan more documents.
    Respectfully,
    Roger Chidester

    Reply

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