The origin of curry, the saucy, spiced dish celebrated in India and Great Britain, is not exactly known. But it is now thought that similarly spiced dishes were developed concurrently, but independent of each other, in England and in India thanks to the spice routes that spanned from Asia and into Europe. Exotic spices like turmeric and pepper made their way into England during the conquests of the Romans in 40 AD and the Moors in 711 AD, and came in handy during Middle Ages when highly seasoned meats could make aging meat more palatable.
Images: Smithson letter of “May 9, Year 4” Bastille Day, a French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison by the populace of Paris to free political prisoners of the royal government (and obtain a supply of ammunition and gunpowder) on July 14, 1789. It symbolizes the start of the French Revolution, more formally initiated in August when feudalism was abolished and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was proclaimed. A young man named James L. Macie traveled to Paris two years later. He had been born there in 1765 to a wealthy English widow and her lover Hugh Smithson, who later became the Duke of Northumberland, but as an illegitimate son James was never acknowledged by his father and was barred by English law and custom from certain professions, rights, and privileges. He was therefore understandably thrilled by the winds of democratic change and social progress that were sweeping away age-old inequalities and injustices in France. In May of 1792—which he mistakenly more »
This post has been inspired by last month's wonderful post from the Smithsonian Archives, Records and Information Management Month: The Librarian, which features a wider discussion of libraries’ information management work. The Smithsonian Libraries was not officially created until the 1960s, but when the Institution was founded by Congress in 1846 it was meant to include a national library; to that end it was named a copyright depository, along with the Library of Congress, for all books published in the U.S. The first Librarian, Charles Coffin Jewett, was appointed in 1848 and immediately perceived a need for standardized and shared cataloging for the nation’s libraries, anticipating functions later undertaken by the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, the Smithsonian’s attempts to fulfill this role became unsustainable—the scientific researches and public exhibitions that were also part of the Institution’s mandate quickly started being crowded out of the original “Castle” building by the flood of books submitted for copyright in every conceivable subject, and the law was changed in the 1860s to assign this more »