‘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 »

Willie Vocalite and The Electrical Circus

This post was written by Tracee Haupt, an intern at the National Museum of American History Library. Tracee is a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s dual-degree master’s program for History and Library Science. At six and a half feet tall and three hundred and fifty pounds, Willie Vocalite was an imposing figure. “The Man Who Isn’t a Man,” as a 1934 booklet uncovered in our Trade Literature Collection described him, more »

‘The whole man at once:’ Scientific identities at the Dibner Library – Maria Gaetana Agnesi

“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 more »

The Comforts of Camping

When we think of summer, many of us think of traveling and vacations. The Trade Literature Collection includes quite a bit of travel related catalogs. As you might expect, there are catalogs advertising luggage and ones showing different modes of travel, like steamships or the railway. There are also catalogs about camping and everything you would need for a vacation in the outdoors.

Saving Endsheets during spine covering repair

Endsheets at the front and back of most hardcover books serve as a protection and an attachment device. The outermost sheet, or pastedown, is typically glued to the interior of the cover board, while the pastedown’s other half, known as the flyleaf, serves as a shield between the board and the first and last leaves of the textblock. Pastedowns may be blank; marbled with a colorful design; or illustrated. If an illustration more »

Cooling Off at a Soda Fountain from 1920

As the weather gets hot, let’s look at a catalog to encourage thoughts of something a bit cooler in temperature. Perhaps a trade catalog related to soda fountains?

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