A Visit to the Opera in 1886

At first glance, the front cover of this trade catalog shows an opera chair. But take a closer look and you might see something you didn’t expect to see. A hat appears to be attached to the bottom of the seat. That is just one of several special features built into these chairs.

A Salesman in 1917

While browsing the Trade Literature Collection, you never know what you might find. One search might lead you to discover something you never realized was even there. Recently, I was searching for catalogs related to food or ones that included recipes. That led me to this 1917 almanac from J. R. Watkins Medical Co.

Staying cool for a 19th Century picnic

Today, many of us are probably familiar with insulated bags that help keep food cold, or even warm, until you get to your destination. But did you know there was a picnic basket in the nineteenth century that did something similar?

Vintage Fireworks for the Fourth

This post was written by Adrian Vaagenes, intern in the National Museum of American History Library. The 4th of July is upon us, and for many of us this means, to borrow a quote from The Simpsons, it’s “time to celebrate the independence of our nation by blowing up a small part of it”. Just as we enjoy lighting roman candles, sparklers, cherry bombs, and m-80’s, these pieces of trade literature in more »

Cool off with Soda Fountains from the Past

Summer has just arrived and the heat is starting to turn up, making it the perfect time for ice cream. Imagine yourself in 1904. You just met some friends for ice cream at a soda fountain. What would you have seen? Ice cream and drinks, of course. But what about the dishes, furniture, and even the tools to make some of those treats?

Durable Pianos

“It shows no signs whatever of the rough handling that it has received at the hands of our pupils who have used it continuously for practicing and evening amusement.” That was how J. W. Hill, M.D. described the durability of the piano purchased for Bishop Scott Academy in Portland, Oregon.

Planting a Nineteenth Century Garden

Now that Spring has finally arrived, warmer weather is hopefully here to stay. Flowers are beginning to emerge making it the perfect time to sit outside in the garden enjoying the outdoors. Perhaps you are wondering what to plant in your garden. How about a flower with a vibrant color? Or maybe one with a softer look? April is National Garden Month and a perfect time to highlight some of the options.

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