Ephemeral Thoughts during the Waning Days of Summer

September 3, 2014

This post was written by rare books cataloger Julia Blakely. It originally appeared on the Smithsonian Collections Blog. The spectacular display of the capital cherry trees of this year is but a happy, distant memory and the gardens of Washington have that hot, exhausted look of August, escaping into a rare gardening book is in order. The Cullman Library has a survivor of an ephemeral form of publication—nursery trade catalogs—that are valuable not more »

Welcome, 2014!

January 1, 2014

The Year of the Salamander. The Year of Family Farming. The Year of the Horse (starting January 31st, of course). Whatever you choose to call it and however you celebrate, we wish you a very Happy New Year!

Support the Libraries with your holiday shopping!

December 4, 2013

Throughout the year, the Smithsonian Libraries works with brand managers at the Smithsonian Enterprises to develop products based on unique items in our collection. From sleigh beds to weather vanes, our books have inspired a variety of merchandise! Not only are they neat items, but a portion of the proceeds comes back to the Libraries for the care and maintenance of our collection. Below is a list of perfectly giftable items just more »

Happy Independence Day!

In honor of the patriotic spirit of the Fourth of July, plus the gardening season that is upon us, we take a special look at victory gardens! Though more known for their place in the Second World War, victory gardens (or war gardens as they were initially called) were first advocated during World War I. In addition to rationing other goods, citizens were urged to do their patriotic duty and grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs at home in order to free up resources for the military. It was hoped that with more resources, the U.S. forces would have better success on the warfront.

Do Love Apples Count, Too?

Iowa Seed Co., 36th Annual Catalogue, 1906. Back Cover. October is National Apple Month. The Libraries has an abundance of beautiful images of fruits and the like in its seed catalog collection, which is part of the trade literature collection in the National Museum of American History Library. I have to admit that as delicious as the depicted Wealthy Apple looks, and as intrigued as I might be about the Transparent Apple, what really strikes my fancy is that Majestic Tomato, front and center, for fifteen cents. Yum. —Elizabeth Periale

Uncle Sam Wants You

J. Bolgiano & Son, Bolgiano's 100 Years (1918), Baltimore, MD, United States. Today is Uncle Sam's Birthday. His origins are connected to the War of 1812 (much earlier than I ever imagined). Meat packer Samuel Wilson shipped provisions to soldiers in barrels marked "U.S.," which soldiers jokingly referred to as being sent from their "Uncle Sam." It seems that war, patriotism and industry have always gone hand-in-hand. The popular and most familiar depiction of this personification of the United States was used as a recruiting poster during the First World War. This seed catalog from 1918 from the Libraries' trade literature collection promotes growing vegetables to "solve the problem of the feeding of the nations." But it also appears as if Uncle Sam may be calling on this tomato farmer to set down his basket and join the patriotic soldier and sailor in the field's background. Good luck, soldier. —Elizabeth Periale The Uncle Sam Memorial Statue, (sculpture) “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner,” Harper’s Weekly, November 20, 1869, p.745. Wood engraving. Uncle more »

National Golf Month

Buist Seed Company, Buist's Garden Guide and Almanac, 1896. August is National Golf Month. The Libraries has a great quantity of seed catalogs in its trade literature collection, which tell us not only about products that were once, and in some instances, still are, sold in America, but also about fashion and daily life. For some reason gay nineties grass seed sellers were anxious to appeal to the ladies of the golf course, as evidenced by this catalog from 1896 and one previously featured on this blog, from 1898.  Go on girls . . . tee off! —Elizabeth Periale LPGA – Ladies Professional Golf Association Golf Digest Woman Golf on Wikipedia

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