Designing Women: The Hewitt Sisters and The Remaking of a Modern Museum (Part 1)

This is a two-part series on the Hewitt sisters. Deep in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library’s collection of rare books, one might be surprised to come across children’s illustrated books by Walter Crane and Beatrix Potter. Even more fascinating might be the origin of these tomes, for in this collection are the very books read by the founding sisters of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum: Sarah (Sallie) and Eleanor (Nellie) more »

The Concord Grape and American Wine Making

  Now that the season for harvesting grapes in New England is here, let’s raise a glass to Ephraim Bull, the originator of the all-time popular grape in America, the Concord. Readily associated with juice and jelly and long out of favor in viticulture, Concord grape is having a bit of resurgence with the interest in DIY home brewing and fermenting. If faced with an abundance of the easily grown grape on more »

A Real Life Wonder Woman Adventure

On January 24, 1944, 19 year-old Joye Kelly sat down to take a psychology exam final at the Katharine Gibbs School in New York, NY. As she pondered the test’s questions, she had no idea her answers would forever change her life.

The Short, Soaring Life of Lieutenant Selfridge

One does not readily associate “firsts” in aviation history with either Washington, D.C. or with the Scottish-born scientist and engineer Alexander Graham Bell. Alas, the first fatality in a powered aircraft connects both the nation’s capital and the inventor of the telephone. The Smithsonian’s collections give testament to many aeronautical and military milestones, including the brief but significant life of Thomas E. Selfridge. 

Henry, Melville, and the Smithsonian

This post was written by Meredith Farmer, 2014 Resident Scholar, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. The Dibner Resident Scholar Program is supported by the Dibner family. I’m originally from Galveston, TX, a place I frequently describe as home of a less-than-stellar beach and lots of hurricanes. However, growing up on the water made an impression on me, as I now spend quite a bit of time reading and writing more »

Beyond Shells: The Birth of Malacology

Until the late 18th century, the study of mollusks was based largely on shells. Very little research or published information existed about molluscan anatomy and soft tissues. Giuseppe Saverio Poli, recognized by many as the father of malacology, changed this with his monumental publication, Testacea utriusque Siciliae eorumque historia et anatome (1791-1827).

The Gift of Adoption

This entry was written by Linda Blancato, book lover and Adopt-a-Book supporter. I’ve always been a librarian at heart. My father was a master bookbinder who owned a bindery in Baltimore, Maryland. He instilled in his family a love and respect for all things related to books: the cover, the bindings, the pages, and of course the content. From a young age, I’ve always appreciated that the real value of books includes more »

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