On Book Puzzles and Hot Air Balloons

While at the Smithsonian Libraries Research Annex (SLRA) during the second week of my Smithsonian Libraries internship, I was asked to select and research texts in SLRA’s collection for the Adopt-a-Book Program. Adopt-a-Book is an opportunity for bibliophiles to “adopt” a book from one of the Smithsonian Libraries’ twenty-one branches, granting them acknowledgement through a virtual bookplate in the SIL online catalog, SIRIS. Potential donors can view the books up for adoption more »

The Fantastic Worlds of Jules Verne

Widely considered to be the father of science fiction, Jules Verne was born on February 8, 1828 in the French seaport town of Nantes. Despite his father wanting him to follow in his footsteps as a lawyer, Verne dreamt of an adventurous life at sea and even secretly procured a spot as a cabin boy. As the legend goes, Verne’s plan was discovered by his father before the ship could set sail more »

Calling All Steampunk Fans!

Engineering Romance in Late 19th Century Literature, featuring Rosalind Williams Date: November 28, 2012, 5:00 pm Location: Smithsonian Institution Castle Jules Verne (1828-1905) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) were well-known writers of romance in the late l9th century.  They were also fascinated by engineering, both as well-informed observers and as lay engineers. This talk will describe this convergence of engineering and romance in their lives and times and reflect upon its implications for our own lives and times. This event will take place on Wednesday, November 28 at 5:00 p.m. in the Smithsonian Institution Castle building.

Space Day 2011

On Saturday, May 7, 2011, the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall will be hosting Space Day from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. This free annual event, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, provides visitors with opportunities to learn about space through hands-on exhibits, activities, and presentations by astronauts and other space experts. In keeping with the program’s mission to provide a fun learning experience for all ages, there will be several activity and presentation stations for children and teens, including Alka Seltzer-powered rockets, astronaut paper dolls, and LEGO spacecraft models.

Sea Serpent Day Redux

Last year the Libraries featured Konrad Gesner from its rare book collections at the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History for Sea Serpent Day. So what to feature this year? Libraries collections feature a plethora of fabulous snake images, but none that truly qualify as a friend of Nessie. The closest I could come to a dragon was this wonderful botanical image, The Dragon Arum, from New illustration of the sexual system of Carolus von Linnaeus . . ., 1807, by Robert John Thornton. After some browsing on Galaxy of Images I finally tried searching for "monsters" and found what I was looking for: "In the Clutches of the Monster," by Joseph Ferdinand Keppler, A Selection of Cartoons from Puck by Joseph Keppler, 1893. Published in "Puck" May 28, 1890. The Louisiana lottery was among the most corrupt public lotteries in the United States, drawing much criticism and prosecution. This cartoon appeared at a time when Louisiana was attempting to recover from this disgrace, an attempt that was more »


Today is the first day of winter. Some Ella Jenkins music might get you in the right, chilly mood.—Elizabeth Periale Image from: Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon Direct in Ninety-seven Hours and Twenty Minutes, and a Trip around it. Trans. by Louis Mercier and Eleanor King [De la terre à la lune], 1874, THE VAPOR OF OUR BREATH WILL FALL IN SNOW AROUND US—As the voyagers move into the moon's shadow, the projectile encounters the "absolute cold of space" causing their breath to condense as snow. More images from this publication are available. Also, check out the Libraries' online display, A Jules Verne Centennial: 1905 – 2005.

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