Celebrating Our Man of Many Hats: William Henry Holmes

December 1st is the 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes, the Smithsonian’s own Renaissance man. Early in the Smithsonian’s history, Holmes served as the head of the Anthropology Department and later the first director of what would become the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Starting today, we’re celebrating his legacy.

Native American Heritage Month: Penn Treaty Wampum Belts

November is Native American Heritage Month. The Smithsonian Libraries has many intriguing resources about Native American history, especially in the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library, National Museum of the American Indian. I was recently reminded of this as I came across The Penn Wampum Belts by Frank Gouldsmith Speck (1925).

Setting the Table

The big Thanksgiving meal is fast approaching and for many that means a well-dressed table, perhaps with heirloom china. What would your dinner table have looked like for a nice meal or tea over a hundred years ago, maybe back when Great-great Aunt Agnes first started filling her china cabinet? The Trade Literature Collection includes catalogs illustrating dinnerware, glassware, cutlery, and cooking utensils which can give us a glimpse into the past. more »

Journal des Marches: Operational Logs of the Lafayette Escadrille

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Escadrille Américaine” or the Lafayette Escadrille. Created on December 6, 1916, the Escadrille (or “squadron”) holds a unique place both in the history of World War I (1914-1918) and in the history of aviation overall. Most notably, the Escadrille was composed of American volunteers who chose to fight for France years before the United States’ official entry into the Great War, in April more »

An Ozzy Interview, or The Librarian and The Collector

The Smithsonian Libraries are contributing an Ozzy blog post in honor of The National Museum of American History’s kickstarter campaign to #Keep Them Ruby. Sometimes referred to as “the Harry Potter of its time”, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was an enormous success. Published in 1900, author L. Frank Baum and illustrator W.W. Denslow created what is widely regarded as America’s first fairytale. The popularity grew into a series of 40 stories, more »

Cooking up some fun with Adopt-a-Book

On Wednesday, November 16th, the Smithsonian Libraries will once again hold its annual Adopt-a-Book Evening and you’re invited! Join us for food and merriment, all while supporting the Libraries’ collections. Visit the event page for additional details and to purchase your tickets. Can’t make it to DC next week or just want a preview of the evening’s menu of books? Enjoy this “appetizer”, a mere sample of the 80+ items that will more »

Jihad in 19th Century Sudan, Part I

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 begin with “Part I: The Mahdi’s world: Social and Political Conditions”, to be followed by “Part II: The Mahdi’s world: Slavery, Bedrock of Sudan’s Economy” and “Part III: The Mahdi:  The Rise and Fall of the Mahdist State”. This blog series was written by Judith Schaefer, volunteer more »

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