Lighting the way with political torches

Halloween is just around the corner, and many libraries & archives are scouring their collection for fitting images for #PageFrights. I found this patent drawing for a Jack-a-Lantern torch in the 1966 Bulletin of the United States National Museum, no. 241 (Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, papers 45-51 on History) and thought it was more than appropriate. It’s from the first paper, “Political Campaign Torches” by Herbert R. Collins: There are more »

The Girl Who Changed Ornithology Forever

It’s rare for the questions posed by seven-year-olds to result in more than a hurried answer from mom or dad, let alone  anything with lasting beauty and utility. But seven-year-old Genevieve Jones is one of the exceptions. While making the journey to her grandmother’s house with her family, she encountered a bird’s nest. Showing it to her father, she posed a simple question: why wasn’t there a book she could use to more »

For Camping Month: How to Share a Tent with a Smithsonian Secretary

What are your plans for National Camping Month? Thinking of bringing along a sketchbook? You’d be in good company. Mary Vaux Walcott (1860-1940) was undoubtedly a pro at camping. The naturalist and botanical illustrator spent the summers of her youth in the Canadian Rockies with her well-to-do family, where she became an active mountain climber, outdoorswooman, photographer, and started her first forays into botanical illustration. It was later in life, in her mid more »

Dr. G. Zander’s Medico-mechanical Gymnastics

No doubt some of you are among the many hardened souls intent upon making this year the year you finally get in shape. And as you resolve to hit the gym, I’d like to shift your attention momentarily to something most of us don’t ponder—the history of the humble exercise machine.

Designing Women: The Hewitt Sisters and The Remaking of a Modern Museum (Part 2)

This is a two-part series on the Hewitt sisters. Read part one. By 1897, Sarah and Eleanor had collected enough to formally open their museum on the fourth floor of the Cooper Union. In the tradition of their grandfather, the Hewitt sisters wanted to actualize a museum and library that were not just a showcase, but also tools—places that students and designers could come to for reference and inspiration, then go out more »

Designing Women: The Hewitt Sisters and The Remaking of a Modern Museum (Part 1)

This is a two-part series on the Hewitt sisters. Deep in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library’s collection of rare books, one might be surprised to come across children’s illustrated books by Walter Crane and Beatrix Potter. Even more fascinating might be the origin of these tomes, for in this collection are the very books read by the founding sisters of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum: Sarah (Sallie) and Eleanor (Nellie) more »

Women’s History Month: Adelaide Alsop-Robineau and Keramic Studio

Around March, I’ll be forgiven if I start to pay a little more attention to the genders of the people I come across in our digital book and journal collection. After all, it is Women’s History Month. But one journal I keep coming back to is Keramic Studio, a monthly ceramics magazine produced around the turn of the 20th century that we digitized a couple years ago as part of our Books Online collection. Adelaide more »

Follow Us

Latest Tweets