Publishing, Pretense, and Pigeons: The Case of Madame Knip

This post was written by Alexandra K. Neuman, library technician in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.     The pigeons most of us are used to seeing—the ones that suddenly appear out of nowhere and descend upon a dropped bit of food—are often various shades of grey, some with touches of brown. No drama.     However, different breeds of pigeon can be very dramatic indeed—as can scholarship more »

Looking Closely: Two Women in Book History

The Smithsonian Libraries does not contain an overwhelming number of notable bookbindings in its collections. Unlike some other research institutions, fine or interesting covers are not a collecting focus or reason for acquiring a title. Many of our books have had a hard life, well-used over the decades by staff and researchers in the museums’ departments. These survivors have often been rebound in library buckram (sturdy but oh so boring) or been more »

Catesby in the Classroom: Students Explore the Intersection of Art and Science

In the early eighteenth century, English naturalist Mark Catesby set foot in a New World. After spending the better part of ten years, spread across two separate trips, exploring and documenting North America’s rich biodiversity, he would eventually publish his research and original artworks as the first fully illustrated book on the flora and fauna of North America.    Published over eighteen years between 1729-1747, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and more »

The Wondrous Winter Wonderland that was 16th-Century Sweden

An entry into this magical season can be gained through the Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples) by Olaus Magnus, first published in Rome in 1555. It is a work greatly valued by Smithsonian curators and researchers and other scholars, since the author – a true Renaissance man – wrote down his geographical, anthropological and naturalistic observations of a land unknown to much of Europe of the time. In more »

Diving into Marine Biodiversity and Coastal Ecosystem Research

On the eastern coast of Florida, about 120 miles north of Miami, there is a very special research center: the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. It serves as a field station specializing in marine biodiversity and Florida ecosystems, especially that of the Indian River Lagoon – one of the most biologically-diverse estuaries in North America. The center is a destination for scientists around the world who are interested in studying the more »

“The Curious Mr. Catesby” Receives 2016 Annual Literature Award

Congratulations to Leslie Overstreet! The Catesby Commemorative Trust’s The Curious Mr. Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds book has been awarded the 2016 Annual Literature Award by the Council of Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. Leslie, Curator of Natural-History Rare Books in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, authored the chapter titled “The Publication of Mark Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands.”

Eerie October happenings with Smithsonian Libraries

The month of October brings lots of some spooky good times for Smithsonian Libraries. Pumpkin carving patterns, the science of Frankenstein, a behind-the-scenes tour of rare anatomy books, and more!

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