Celebrate the World of Beatrix Potter

Today, July 28, is Beatrix Potter's birthday. She is the author and illustrator of the beloved children stories of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix was born in Kensington, London, England. She  and her family spent many holidays in Scotland and the Lake District. The countryside is where her love of the flora and fauna developed. She became widely respected in the field of mycology not only with her study of fungi but with her watercolors as well.  While in her thirties, Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter began writing and illustrating children's books full time. With the proceeds from these books she was able to purchase Hill Top Farm in the Lake District. She published twenty-three books. Many of her books are located at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Library. The collection also has many of the Peter Rabbit books in pop-up. The Smithsonian American Art / National Portrait Gallery Library also has Beatrix Potter's Art: Paintings and drawings, selected and introduced by Anne Stevenson Hobbs. 1989. —Ninette Dean    

Say Cheese

From the first camera obscura to the modern digital camera it's time to celebrate Camera Day. Well, actually, June 29 was Camera Day, but it's always great to celebrate! You can find many catalogs from camera manufacturers in the Trade Literature Collection at the National American History Museum Library. This image and more on the Libraries' Flickr site are all from Polaroid catalogs. —Ninette Dean

The Up and Down History of the Zipper

From its humble beginnings as an "Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure" invented in 1851 by Elias Howe to the "Clasp Locker" patent in 1893 and marketed by Mr. Whitcomb Judson, the zipper as we know it today, had little commerical success. It was not until Whitcomb partnered with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker—together they launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The "Clasp Locker" made is debut in 1893 at the the Chicago World's Fair. Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer who worked for the Universal Fastener Company, worked on the design by increasing the number of fastening elements. His design had two facing-rows of teeth pulled into a single piece by the slider and he increased the opening for the teeth. By December 1913 he had created the modern zipper and in 1917 the patent for "Separate Fastener" was issued. It wasn't until the B.F. Goodrich Company decided to use Gideon's fastener on a new type of rubber boot—they renamed the fastener to zipper and the name stuck. The major more »

No Housework Day!

Put away the vacuum cleaners and put down the dish rags—it's National No Housework Day. So kick back and enjoy the day!   No one is sure when it started, or who started it but it is the perfect day to say no to housework. The General Electric Trade Literature can be found at National Musuem of American History Library. —Ninette Dean

Sweet Success of Hershey

February 9th celebrates the world of Milton S. Hershey and the introduction of the Hershey bar. From the humble beginnings of a caramel manufacturer, Hershey paved the way to mass produce milk chocolate bars. It all started with a visit to the J. M. Lehmann exhibition of milk chocolate  during the 1893 Chicago Fair. Hershey recognized an opportunity and purchased all the assembly equipment. After the close of the fair, the equipment  was then shipped to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he built his plant and town. Hershey stopped production of his caramels to focus solely milk chocolate production. After a lot of trial and error, by 1900 the first Hershey bar was introduced. Ahhh, sweet success.  You can find several books on Hershey in the Libraries collection at NMAH.  The Emporors of chocolate : inside the world of Hershey and Mars by Joel Glenn Brenner 1999.  Hershey : Milton S. Hershey's extrordinary life of wealth, empire, and utopian dreams by Michael D'Antonio 2006  Hershey chocolate cookbook, Hershey Chocolate Co. 1979.  Hershey farsighted confectioner, famous chocolate, fine community. Sammuel Forry Hinkle 1964.  Chocolate more »

National Apple Month

Golden Noble, Lord Derby, Devonshire Quarrenden, Gravenstein, Ellison's Orange . . . what are these you might ask? They are varieties of apples that can be found in  The new book of apples by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards with paintings by Elisabeth Dowle (available in the Libraries' Botany and Horticulture Library.) "The watercolours, which were commissioned to illustrate this book, were painted by the distinguished botanical artist Elisabeth Dowle. They took four years to complete as each fruit and blossom was painted from life. The varieties are shown both as they grow on the tree, and as they appear when full ripe."  Many other books on apples can be found in the Libraries—from the Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery Library, the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd, Library of Natural History to the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library, National Museum of the American Indian, which has in its collection Johnny Appleseed man & myth by Robert Price.—Ninette Dean (who also took the photo)

It’s National Dessert Month

October is National Dessert Month. What better way to celebrate than with a look through the books of the Culinary Historians of Washington (CHOW ) collection, which can be found in the Libraries Reserach Annex? This collection is as varied as the desserts in the books. There are books covering topics such as what was served at the  White House, desserts from the 18th century, to desserts served in the 19th century and adaped for modern times. Some are not even books at all, but a collection of recipes from the Washington Gas Light Company Home Services Department. The Libraries even has a book in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library that puts a twist on cakes and cake decorating, If you make a mistake put a rose on it, by Pat Lasch and Fred Lasch.—Ninette Dean

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