Honolulu Calling: A Tapa Barkcloth Binding for a 1930 Phone Book from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries recently acquired a telephone book. Big deal, you say? Ah, but this is a telephone directory for the territory of Hawaii, issued for the winter of 1930. For that reason alone, it’s fun to browse through, to see the old advertisements and daydream about living in the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands, back in the days when the entire list of businesses and households in the territory which owned telephones could be recorded in one slim volume. But this isn’t just any old phone book. This particular copy belonged to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, which opened in February 1927 on the spectacular Waikiki beachfront. Known as “the Pink Palace of the Pacific,” the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was one of the earliest luxury resorts established in this tropical paradise. The stylish décor featured at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, inspired partly by the native crafts of the South Sea Islanders, exerted a lasting influence upon tourists from the mainland, who came to associate the good life in Hawaii more »

The Centennial of Two American First Ladies: Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007) and Patricia Nixon (1912-1993)

Americans, once they had elected a President, have always tended, barring catastrophes, to protect their investment. They choose him and consider that the question of their good judgment is involved in his standing. It is a personal and kindly attitude as distinguished from their obvious patriotic duty to uphold the presidency. Curiously, they are generally less kind to his wife. Human nature breaks out all over as she takes her prominent place in the White House goldfish bowl.  — Doris Fleeson, political columnist, Threshold of Tomorrow: the Great Society The year 2012 celebrates the centennial birthdays of two American First Ladies who served consecutively: Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), and Patricia Nixon, the wife of Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974). Claudia Alton Taylor, born on December 22, 1912 and nicknamed Lady Bird, and Thelma Catherine Ryan, born on March 16, 1912 and nicknamed Pat, had a surprising number of things in common: losing their mothers before reaching adulthood, always being referred to by nicknames, displaying more »

Yesterday’s World of Tomorrow: A Souvenir from the World’s Fair

This post was contributed by Rachel Blier, an intern for the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library from June to September 2012. One of my favorite parts of my time at the AA/PG library has been working with the rare books collection. Between the artists’ books, the unusual cartoons and caricatures in the Ray Smith collection, and the occasional doodle or signature from an artist, it’s a very exciting part of the library—and one that an ordinary visitor wouldn’t have the opportunity to see.

Calling All Steampunk Fans!

Engineering Romance in Late 19th Century Literature, featuring Rosalind Williams Date: November 28, 2012, 5:00 pm Location: Smithsonian Institution Castle Jules Verne (1828-1905) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) were well-known writers of romance in the late l9th century.  They were also fascinated by engineering, both as well-informed observers and as lay engineers. This talk will describe this convergence of engineering and romance in their lives and times and reflect upon its implications for our own lives and times. This event will take place on Wednesday, November 28 at 5:00 p.m. in the Smithsonian Institution Castle building.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Smithsonian Libraries!

During this time of Thanksgiving, the Smithsonian Libraries is especially grateful for the support from friends and patrons that have made our tremendous accomplishments possible.

Bringing Books* to the Web

The past couple of months in the web-development world have been spent building a foundation for a method of presenting digitized book-like things on the Smithsonian Libraries website. This has been an interesting time creating a home for the history, art, and culture part of our scanned collections.

The Weight of a Bell

Did you know the 1876 Centennial Bell and the 1893 Columbian Liberty Bell both weighed thirteen thousand pounds? Do you know why? The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes a Meneely Bell Co. catalog which answers that question and more.

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