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 »

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.

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 »

A deep dive in to the past

What would it look like to engage in a deep sea adventure in the early 20th century? The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes catalogs illustrating diving apparatus and equipment from right around that era.

Explore Emil Schimpf’s airships on National Aviation Day

Today, August 19th, marks National Aviation Day and we’re celebrating with a lesser-known flying vehicle — the airship. Emil Schimpf’s ballooning manuscript Vorläufige Instruction über Zusammensetzung Gebrauch des Luftschifferparks was recently added to the Smithsonian Transcription Center and is available for crowd-sourced transcription.

Hidden History: Art Deco in the Trade Literature Collection

This post was written by Katie Martin, Summer 2016 Art Deco Trade Literature Research intern at the National Museum of American History Library. For six weeks in June and July, my task was to research and identify materials from the trade literature and world’s fair collections housed at the National Museum of American History Library that showcase the Art Deco period in Chicago.

A Parisian Souvenir

Before summer ends, it might be nice to take a little mental holiday. How about a tour of Paris, circa 1898? And why not throw in a book of pretty pictures with a built-in mini-mystery?  

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