Sounds of the Phonograph

Imagine it is 1918 and you are resting in a comfortable chair with the phonograph playing. Perhaps this trade catalog will give us a glimpse of what that might have been like almost a century ago.

Willie Vocalite and The Electrical Circus

This post was written by Tracee Haupt, an intern at the National Museum of American History Library. Tracee is a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s dual-degree master’s program for History and Library Science. At six and a half feet tall and three hundred and fifty pounds, Willie Vocalite was an imposing figure. “The Man Who Isn’t a Man,” as a 1934 booklet uncovered in our Trade Literature Collection described him, more »

The Comforts of Camping

When we think of summer, many of us think of traveling and vacations. The Trade Literature Collection includes quite a bit of travel related catalogs. As you might expect, there are catalogs advertising luggage and ones showing different modes of travel, like steamships or the railway. There are also catalogs about camping and everything you would need for a vacation in the outdoors.

Cooling Off at a Soda Fountain from 1920

As the weather gets hot, let’s look at a catalog to encourage thoughts of something a bit cooler in temperature. Perhaps a trade catalog related to soda fountains?

Shelving Books in 1895

One of the most basic things in a library is the book shelving. Let’s go back to the late 19th Century for a look at shelving from that time period. This trade catalog from 1895 has a few examples.

John Lewis Childs: A Profile of an American Seedsman.

Cultivating America’s Gardens, our newest exhibition produced with Smithsonian Gardens is now open in the National Museum of American History and features many colorful seed catalogs from our collection. This post, highlighting seedsman John Lewis Childs,  was written by social media intern Trudi J. Antoine. While some children played games and chased the pavement, John Lewis Childs pursued a dream of playing in the dirt. Starting from the ground up, horticulturist and more »

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?

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