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.

The ABC’s of the Corcoran Artist Files: the B’s

With the recent donation of the Corcoran Artist Vertical File Collection, the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library has started an ongoing series that provides a sneak peek into the integration of new Corcoran materials into the AA/PG Art and Artists Files collection called the “ABCs of the Corcoran Artist Vertical File Collection”. Every couple of weeks the AA/PG Library will explore a letter of the alphabet, featuring artists whose surnames begin with that letter in a display in the library. Currently on show are the B’s of the Corcoran collection which contained a particularly colorful amount of new materials.

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.

Laurel Leaves from the Nineteenth Century

This post was written by Emily Daniel, Rebecca Durgin, and Shayla Wheat, graduate students in the Smithsonian-Mason History of Decorative Arts Masters Program. Emily, Rebecca, and Shayla were also Graduate Research Assistants in 2015-2016 at the National Museum of American History Library. In anticipation of the thirty-first modern Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro starting this week, here is a look at the type of equipment that may have been more »

Batter Up: Early Twentieth Century Baseball Equipment

This post was written by Rebecca Durgin and Shayla Wheat, graduate students in the Smithsonian-Mason History of Decorative Arts Masters Program. Rebecca and Shayla were also Graduate Research Assistants in 2015-2016 at the National Museum of American History Library. Play ball! With baseball season underway across the United States, let’s take a look at early baseball equipment featured in a catalog from the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American more »

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