The Renwick Gates in the Smithsonian Libraries

 Morgan E. Aronson and Julia Blakely co-authored this piece.   James M. Goode, former Keeper of the Smithsonian Institution Building (affectionately known as “The Castle”) received this year the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. In a short biographical video for this honor, Dr. Goode references a guidebook in the Smithsonian Libraries as a key source in the creation of the Renwick Gates, one of his more »

Beyond Blackboards: Teaching Aids in an 1874 Classroom

It’s September and students across the country are now well-settled in their new classrooms, many filled with laptops and high tech, interactive white boards.  What would you expect to find in an 1874 schoolroom? This trade catalog from that year shows typical furniture but also illustrates a few more things, like teaching aids. Though a little lower tech than today’s models, some are still quite innovative.

Wonder Woman investigated: National Comic Book Day at the Dibner Library

Amid the manuscripts, incunabula and early modern texts at the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology are two bright blue binders that don’t seem to quite fit, in every sense of the word. Too big for the shelf and too 20th century for the Dibner, don’t judge these books by their covers! In honor of National Comic Book Day we would like to highlight two of the Dibner’s most popular more »

Archives and the Persistence of Living Memory

Patrice Green is a Smithsonian Minority Awards Intern with Smithsonian  Libraries at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is currently pursuing a dual master’s in Public History and Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina, where her focus is Archives and Preservation Management. As a public history and library/information science student at the University of South Carolina, I often find myself confronting living memory. In more »

Sounds of the Phonograph

Imagine it is 1918 and you are resting in a comfortable chair with the phonograph playing. Perhaps this trade catalog will give us a glimpse of what that might have been like almost a century ago.

‘The whole man at once:’ scientific identities at the Dibner Library – Augustin-Louis Cauchy

“George Sarton, a founder of the history of science as an academic discipline, argued that scholars should pay close attention to portraits. These images, he said, can give you ‘the whole man at once.’ With a ‘great portrait,’ Sarton believed, ‘you are given immediately some fundamental knowledge of him, which even the longest descriptions and discussions would fail to evoke.’ Sarton’s ideas led Bern Dibner to purchase portrait prints of men and women of science and technology. Many of these are now in the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.” – Deborah Jean Warner, Curator, Physical Sciences Collection A picture may tell 1000 words, but another 500 for context can add depth to the image. Follow this blog series to discover the people behind the portraits available online in the Scientific Identity collection.  

“The Sinking of the Titanic” and the sensationalism of Jay Henry Mowbray

“PANIC STRICKEN MULTITUDE FACING SURE DEATH! HUNDREDS WERE DOOMED TO WATERY GRAVES! TERRIBLE HORROR OF THE BRINY DEEP!”   Look no further than the title page of the “Memorial Edition” of The Sinking of the Titanic to find these pieces of purple prose. But if you keep looking, you’ll find that author, journalist, and potential fraudster Jay Henry Mowbray keeps his foot on the accelerator of sensational language for nearly 300 pages more »

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