The Fix – Preparing an Exhibition Takes a Village

The Preservation Department of the Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) has been preparing materials for the past year for the upcoming exhibition in the SIL Gallery, National Museum of American History, Cultivating America’s Gardens.  Drawn mainly from the collections of the Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens, it is a cooperative curatorial effort of both units.

Opening this week: Cultivating America’s Gardens

Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens will present a new exhibition, “Cultivating America’s Gardens,” at the National Museum of American History May 4 through August 2018. Amateurs and professionals, young and old, schoolchildren and scientists—Americans of every sort—have put their backs into gardening for a variety of motives: beauty, food, science and prestige. Americans garden to feed themselves and their families and to create a sense of place and beauty in their backyards more »

Unearthing an 18th-Century Librarian-Gardener

Rare book cataloging can require some detective work. A recent case for me involved a record of ancient coins in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, transferred to the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library for cataloging from the National Museum of American History’s National Numismatic Collection. This is also a tale of how a book can reveal unexpected histories.

Filed away: Office equipment of the late 19th century

Today, in the 21st Century, it is commonplace to find a computer on a desk in an office. In the late 19th Century, workers did not have the convenience of our modern office equipment. So how did they file papers, write documents, or make copies of documents?

Jihad in 19th Century Sudan, Part III

Egypt, Sudan, and Jihad are much in the news today. What follows is a brief overview of some of the history behind the news. We began with “Part I: The Mahdi’s world: Social and Political Conditions”.  followed by Part II:  The Mahdi’s World: Slavery, Bedrock of Sudan’s Economy.  This is the third and final installment. This blog series was written by Judith Schaefer, volunteer in the Warren M. Robbins Library, National Museum more »

Cooling Food with Early Refrigeration

Refrigerators are part of everyday life, but we probably don’t think much about them except when we’re hungry. But without them, we wouldn’t be able to keep our food fresh or our beverages cold. The Trade Literature Collection includes a number of refrigeration related catalogs which can give us an idea of how refrigeration has changed over the years.

Choosing Passion Over Expectations: Matilda Betham and her Fight for Women’s Rights

This post was written by Brittney Falter, a graduate student at George Mason University and social media intern at the Smithsonian Libraries. Matilda Betham was born in 1776 and raised in Suffolk, England. She learned portrait painting as a means to support herself and moved to London when her family faced financial troubles. Betham showed her art work at the Royal Academy and painted portraits of poets like George Dyer and Robert more »

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