Cooling Food with Early Refrigeration

Refrigerators are part of everyday life, but we probably don’t think much about them except when we’re hungry. But without them, we wouldn’t be able to keep our food fresh or our beverages cold. The Trade Literature Collection¬†includes a number of refrigeration related catalogs which¬†can give us an idea of how refrigeration has changed over the years.

Decorative Touches for the Late 19th Century Home

Imagine yourself in the late 19th Century. Maybe you just sat down to watch a game of croquet on your lawn while chatting with some friends. This trade catalog from 1875 includes an item that might have been useful for that very thing.

Cycling into the Past: Late 19th Century Bicycles

Today in the 21st Century, it’s not uncommon for people to ride bicycles to work. Even on these cold winter days, there seems to be at least a few people out on their bikes. But let’s take a look back to see what your bicycle might have looked like in the late 19th Century.

Setting the Table

The big Thanksgiving meal is fast approaching and for many that means a well-dressed table, perhaps with heirloom china. What would your dinner table have looked like for a nice meal or tea over a hundred years ago, maybe back when Great-great Aunt Agnes first started filling her china cabinet? The Trade Literature Collection includes catalogs illustrating dinnerware, glassware, cutlery, and cooking utensils which can give us a glimpse into the past. more »

Fashion for the Grave

It’s October and Halloween is just around the corner. So I set out to find something creepy in the Trade Literature Collection. I already knew there are a lot of catalogs for undertakers’ supplies so I decided to start there.

Sleeping on Air: A 19th Century Air Mattress

Would it surprise you to know that air mattresses existed in the nineteenth century? That thought never occurred to me until I came across this trade catalog from 1896 advertising the “Perfection” Air Mattress.

A deep dive in to the past

What would it look like to engage in a deep sea adventure in the early 20th century? The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes catalogs illustrating diving apparatus and equipment from right around that era.

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