Vintage Fireworks for the Fourth

-+*This post was written by Adrian Vaagenes, intern in the National Museum of American History Library. The 4th of July is upon us, and for many of us this means, to borrow a quote from The Simpsons, it’s “time to celebrate the independence of our nation by blowing up a small part of it”. Just as we enjoy lighting roman candles, sparklers, cherry bombs, and m-80’s, these pieces of trade literature in more »

Celebrate America with Gibson’s “Americans”

-+*Charles Gibson (1867-1944) is one of the best known illustrators of the Gilded Age primarily due to his creation, the Gibson Girl, who became an icon of American beauty. As an illustrator he was talented in depicting relationships between men and women and submitted illustrations to such magazines as Harper’s Weekly, Life, and Harper’s Monthly. In 1890 he introduced a modernized beautiful female character with upswept hair, fashionable clothes, and imbued with more »

Now Open: Fantastic Worlds

-+*This post was written by Kirsten van der Veen, co-curator of “Fantastic Worlds.” When the west wing of the National Museum of American History reopens today,  July 1, after extensive renovations, a new Smithsonian Libraries exhibition will be opening with it: Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910. It will be the first exhibition to debut in the newly refurbished Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery. On display will be some of the very works that exposed an eager and curious public to the wealth of new ideas and inventions of the 19th century (landmarks of scientific discovery, imaginative fictions, popular science, newspaper hoaxes, dime novels, and more). Showcased alongside selected historical artifacts from Smithsonian museum collections, the books on exhibition will trace the impact of the period’s science on the world of fiction.

What’s in a Name? The Related Talents of Mark Catesby and Gertrude Jekyll

-+*The Catesby Commemorative Trust launched the publication of The Curious Mister Catesby with a program at the National Museum of Natural History this past April. Smithsonian Libraries’ own Leslie Overstreet, a contributor to these various perspectives on Mark Catesby’s The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama islands (London, 1729-1747), spoke on that work’s long, complicated printing history. Another speaker, E. Charles Nelson, presented his research into the naturalist’s biography. His more »

Cool off with Soda Fountains from the Past

-+*Summer has just arrived and the heat is starting to turn up, making it the perfect time for ice cream. Imagine yourself in 1904. You just met some friends for ice cream at a soda fountain. What would you have seen? Ice cream and drinks, of course. But what about the dishes, furniture, and even the tools to make some of those treats?

The Fix – Book Detective

-+*When a book arrives in the Conservation Lab the first order of business is often detective work. The binding is examined to determine if it is original to the book, the paper is analyzed for clues to its origin, and scraps of paper or other ephemera enlighten us as to the provenance of the book. Recently, a particularly intriguing volume, Botanicon,  came to us from the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.

Cruising through National Bike Month

-+*There are only a few days left in National Bike Month but we couldn’t let May pass without sharing a few of the fabulous bicycle-related resources available from the Smithsonian Libraries. National Bike Month, established in 1956, is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. It promotes the benefits of bicycling and encourages more folks across the country to give it a try.

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