Beer on Board in the Age of Sail

Brewing and seafaring are mainstays of ancient human endeavors. Beer was first fermented by at least the 5th millennium BC in Mesopotamia. From the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of the Fertile Crescent, the grain beverage either traveled along trade routes or was spontaneously developed in other ancient civilizations (including Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Norse, Aztec, Chinese) before landing in northern Europe in the early medieval period. Producing beer became a more »

Musical stuffed bunnies still sing it…..

“Easter Parade” is still a popular song- lots of little kids today know this old tune from their musical animal toys. You might know the lyrics and tune to sing along with the first 2 lines of the chorus of  “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…”  Written by Irving Berlin in 1933, the song was also the basis of the iconic 1948 movie musical starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The song was introduced by Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb on Broadway as part of the musical revue As Thousands Cheer (1933), in which musical numbers were strung together on the thematic thread of newspaper headlines and the lives of rich and famous people.

The Wondrous Winter Wonderland that was 16th-Century Sweden

An entry into this magical season can be gained through the Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples) by Olaus Magnus, first published in Rome in 1555. It is a work greatly valued by Smithsonian curators and researchers and other scholars, since the author – a true Renaissance man – wrote down his geographical, anthropological and naturalistic observations of a land unknown to much of Europe of the time. In more »

Lighting the way with political torches

Halloween is just around the corner, and many libraries & archives are scouring their collection for fitting images for #PageFrights. I found this patent drawing for a Jack-a-Lantern torch in the 1966 Bulletin of the United States National Museum, no. 241 (Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, papers 45-51 on History) and thought it was more than appropriate. It’s from the first paper, “Political Campaign Torches” by Herbert R. Collins: There are more »

Toriyama Sekien’s Spooky Parade

This post was contributed by Matt Alt. Matt is the co-founder of AltJapan Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based localization company that specializes in producing the English versions of Japanese games, manga, and other entertainment. Together with Hiroko Yoda he is the co-author of Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and the upcoming Japandemonium Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien which features images from the Smithsonian Libraries volumes of Toriyma Sekien’s works. 

Eerie October happenings with Smithsonian Libraries

The month of October brings lots of some spooky good times for Smithsonian Libraries. Pumpkin carving patterns, the science of Frankenstein, a behind-the-scenes tour of rare anatomy books, and more!

Explore “The history of aquatic animals” this summer

As you head to the seashore or lakeside this summer, take a moment to consider the contributions of Ippolito Salviani to natural history. Salviani’s book on aquatic animals, Aquatilium animalium historiae (The history of aquatic animals), is one of a handful of 16th-century works that helped established ichthyology as a modern science. A professor of medicine at the University of Rome and physician to several Popes, Salviani collected fishes in the markets of Rome for more »

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