The ABC’s of the Corcoran Artist Files: the C’s

In the series called “The ABCs of the Corcoran Artist Files” the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library will explore a letter of the alphabet using materials from the recent Corcoran Vertical File collection by featuring artists whose surnames begin with that letter. The letter “C” does not disappoint, and we have some great materials to share.

Celebrating African American History and Culture

In celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture this weekend, we’ve put together a special digital collection of titles related to the African American experience.  Many of these books come from our National Museum of African American History and Culture Library, which will open in the museum later this year.  Below are a few highlights from the collection. To see the entire collection, visit Celebrating more »

Mughal art for the masses

This post was written by Keala Richard, intern in the Freer|Sackler Library during the summer of 2016. Keala is currently working towards a Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. When I was a teenager, I spent countless afternoons gossiping and scheming with my best friend under the watchful eye of Mughal royalty. Her family’s collection of miniatures, stripped of their gilt borders and in many cases more »

Sleeping on Air: A 19th Century Air Mattress

Would it surprise you to know that air mattresses existed in the nineteenth century? That thought never occurred to me until I came across this trade catalog from 1896 advertising the “Perfection” Air Mattress.

“Color in a New Light” tote bags now available

Back to school means back to books! And why not tote around your favorite tomes in a Color in a New Light tote bag? Through the Smithsonian Libraries exhibition Color in a New Light , visitors follow the theme of color through the collections and make a few unexpected connections and discoveries. Now, book lovers from near and far can bring home a piece of Color with this promotional tote bag, available more »

Celebrate the Potato

September is National Potato Month. Almost all the potatoes grown in the United States are planted in the spring and gathered in the fall. It is the time of year that schools in northern Maine have “harvest break” when students work to dig and sort the season’s spud crop soon after summer vacation. Maine’s custom is one small part of the very long and interwoven agricultural, economic, social, culinary, medical, and ritual more »

Der Weltkrieg: an Adopt-a-Book Story

  A scrapbook from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology came to the book conservation lab though our Adopt-a-Book program. Through the program, patrons can adopt a book for preservation or acquisition. This unusual book is a scrapbook used to house collectible cards that were found in cigarette packets in Germany during the 1930s. The binding was stapled and difficult to open because the staples were attached to the paper about 2 cm from the spine. The staples had also begun to oxidize further endangering the brittle paper. Several of the collectible cards were missing and almost all of the cards were detached or loose. The cards had been affixed to the scrapbook with an adhesive that degraded, losing its ability to hold the cards on the pages. A further concern was that the cards had information on the back of them. While this information matched the information on the scrapbook page it was in a different script. The scrapbook pages were in Fraktur script but the cards in a modern German script. This was a more »

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