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. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe that my time at the Libraries has come to an end! Since there was a post about me here when I began my internship back in January, I thought I’d give a summary of what I’ve done since then.
I worked with Doug Dunlop through January, all of February, and the first week or so of March. For this assignment, Doug and I traveled to almost every branch in the Libraries, searching for images and information that may prove useful in the development of the Smithsonian Books proposal he’s working on, tentatively titled The Time-Traveler's Guide to the 19th Century. We spent hours looking for late 18th through early 20th century images with a “steampunk” feel that could illustrate the fictitious text about a time traveler’s encounters with James Smithson. This proved more challenging than it sounds, considering that steampunk is a very recent invention that relies on anachronistic technologies. Although we came across many images that we found hard to believe existed, Jules Verne and the World's Fairs tended to appear the most in our selections.
In March I transferred to the Libraries’ Research Annex in Maryland to organize boxes of paperwork related to special exhibits. I created a filing system that will help employees working on exhibitions to sort out what paperwork should be kept and what should be disposed of. These files ranged from the 1970s through the present. Papers could usually be sorted into one of about 10 categories, although there were thousands of sheets to sort relating to nearly every exhibit over the past 30 years.
In April, I moved out to the Dibner Library, the Libraries' rare book collection for the history of science and technology, and began enhancing catalog entries for the Heralds of Science collection. It’s been a treat to go through that collection, searching for details that might distinguish one copy of an edition from another. While there I’ve learned about gilt-tooled spines with brown leather labels, headpieces, tailpieces, initials, and marbled endpapers and edges, though I still haven’t learned enough Latin to read some of the titles. I wrote a blog entry during my time there in which I examined Johann Prüss’s Ortus Sanitatis.
I only got about halfway through the collection before moving to the Book Conservation Lab at the beginning of May. There I worked on the general collections with Phu Pham, doing paper repair, mixing wheat paste, sizing and folding boxes, creating enclosures, and shipping books out after work was completed.
I worked in the Book Conservation Lab until mid-June, when I returned to Dibner to finish work on the Heralds catalog entries. Once I completed that project, I worked on various other projects such as editing desiderata lists and cleaning recent acquisitions for my last couple of weeks at the Smithsonian. My final assignment was to go through dealer catalogues with collection growth and management in mind.
It’s been a busy few months, but I’ve learned many skills here that will help me as I enter library school at the University of North Carolina next month and continue on my career path.
—Betsy Hagerty, Smithsonian Libraries intern
For National "Joe" Day, the Libraries would like to feature some digital collections from its Joseph F. Cullman 3rd, Library of Natural History:
The Art of African Exploration presents a selection of drawings, book illustrations, and other objects from the The Russell E. Train Africana Collection in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. The compelling images that emerged from the early european exploration of Africa tell the story of Africa as it was first seen by Western eyes, and the impact it had on a fascinated public.
Nouvelle description du Cap de Bonne-Espérance, Carel Frederik Brink 1758-1784,
Amsterdam, Chez J.H. Schneider, 1778.
Smithson's Library James Smithson (c.1765-1829), an 18th-century gentleman of science, included his library with his bequest to the United States, and those books now reside in the vault of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. This site provides a listing of those 126 titles, along with selected digitized images from some of the titles.
Louis Benjamin Fleuriau de Bellevue, Meḿoire sur les pierres météoriques,
et notamment sur celles tombées près de Jonzac, au mois de juin 1819, 1821.
United States Exploring Expedition In one very important way, the work of the United States Exploring Expedition was only beginning when the ships returned to Washington after almost four years at sea. In addition to Captain Wilkes himself who recorded ocean and weather data and surveyed island groups and coastlines, the Expedition had carried a civilian group of scientists who had collected specimens, artifacts, and observations through the whole voyage. Called the "scientific corps," or just the "scientifics," they were Horatio Hale, ethnographer & linguist; Charles Pickering and Titian R. Peale, naturalists; J.P. Couthouy, conchologist; James D. Dana, mineralogist; William Rich and William D. Brackenridge, botanists; and Alfred T. Agate and Joseph Drayton, artists.
Vol. 20 Herpetology (Girard/Baird 1858) Plate 12, Callirhinus patagoniensis; Dendrophis prasinus.
Wonder Bound Wonder-rooms and curiosity cabinets appeared in the 1500s, as wealthy Europeans displayed objects and specimens collected during trading voyages and exploring expeditions. Books-such as these-allowed scientists and collectors to share their observations. Why are centuries-old natural history books vital to scientific research? Our scientists consult early printed materials to compare historical descriptions with modern specimens. These researchers use the rare book collection of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' new Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd, Library of Natural History.
J. J. Ernst , Papillons d'Europe, peints d'après nature … ,
Paris: Chez P. M. Delaguette [etc.], 1779-1792. 8 v. in 3 : ill. + atlases (3 v. : col. ill.).
As noted by Smithsonian namesake James Smithson in his personal copy of Travels through the states of North America: and the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797, 1807 by Isaac Weld:
Thanks George, for this capital city and happy birthday!
Royal armoury, Haymarket, (adjoining the theatre.), [18--], Formerly owned by James Smithson.
On August 10, 1846, Congress passed an act establishing the Smithsonian Institution, named in honor of James Smithson, a British mineralogist and chemist who unexpectedly bequeathed a fortune to the United States government for "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge."
Though Smithson died in 1827, it took nearly twenty years for the terms of his will to take effect and to be accepted by the United States.
In addition to the money, Smithson's estate also contained:
"A large trunk; a box containing sundry specimens of minerals; a
brass instrument; a box of minerals; a box of chemical glasses; a packet of minerals; a glass vinegar-cruet; a stone mortar; a pair of silver-plated candlesticks and branches; a pair of silver-plated candlesticks without branches; a hone, in a mahogany case; a plated-wire flower-basket; a plated coffee-pot; a small plated coffee-pot; a pair of wine-coolers; a pair of small candlesticks; two pair salt-cellars; a bread-basket; two pair vegetable dishes and covers; a large round waiter; a large oval waiter; two small oval waiters; two plate-warmers; a reading shade; a gun; a mahogany cabinet; two portraits in oval frames; a china tea-service, consisting of twelve cups and saucers; six coffee-cups; a tea-pot; a slop-basin; a sugar-basin and lid; two plates; a milk-jug; a tea-canister; two dishes; a landscape in a gilt frame; a Derby-spar vase; a China tub; a piece of fluor-spar; a pair of glass candlesticks; a marble bust; sundry books and pamphlets; two large boxes filled with specimens of minerals and manuscript treatises, apparently in the testator's handwriting, on various philosophical subjects, particularly chemistry and mineralogy. Eight cases and one trunk filled with the like."
From James Smithson and his Bequest by William J. Rhees. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 21 (1881).
Also included was his personal library. The collection consists of 122 titles, primarily scientific monographs and journal articles, but also history and memoirs, political pamphlets, travel books and museum guides, and a few household items like cookbooks.
Learn more about Smithson's Library.
LibraryThing: James Smithson Collection