William Henry Holmes and the early days of his National Gallery of Art

From November 28th through December 9th, the Smithsonian Libraries, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Smithsonian Field Book Project and Smithsonian Transcription Center will host the #ManyHatsofHolmes transcription event. Help us transcribe the digitized volumes of William Henry Holmes’ Random Records of a Lifetime, 1846-1931 to discover more about his expeditions, adventures and his Smithsonian days. Throughout the campaign, we’ll take a deeper look at Holmes’ life through particpating blogs and share more »

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

This is the second post in a two-part series. Catch up on the first part here.  Allegra Tennis interned with the Field Book Project and Metadata Services over the summer to investigate Smithsonian research related to countries with populations of under a million. I came to the field of librarianship from a scientific background.  The processes, details, and discoveries to be made have always held a magical quality for me.  As I more »

No Wheat Chex, and other scientific issues of the 1960s

This is the first post in a two-part series. Lawrence N. Huber devoted several pages of his journal lamenting the fact that the Navy vessel he was aboard had run out of Wheat Chex.  This comes from a young man who was out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, banding thousands of often rather uncooperative birds, making observations of any type of fauna he came across in the Pacific Islands, and swimming in more »

Bond, James Bond: the Birds, the Books, the Bond

It is well-known that author Ian Fleming appropriated the name of his Secret Agent 007 from a book in his library, Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. The first to connect the two in print was an anonymous reviewer of a then-new edition of the title (1960) in the sober Sunday Times (London), of all places. That writer had fun and ran with it: “To show maybe that his life more »

Discovering Hidden Treasures at the National Postal Museum Library

While working at the National Postal Museum (NPM) Library, we often stumble upon treasures that are waiting to be discovered. We find them in boxes of donations, tucked away on a shelf, behind cabinets, and underneath metal file drawers, but sometimes they are hidden in plain sight.

Computers and Washington

Last fall, I marked the season for the harvesting of grapes to honor John Adlum, the little-known “Father of American Viticulture.” The origins of the first commercially viable vine in the American wine industry can be traced to the District of Columbia. Now, with the great interest in Alan Turing, the recent auction sale of this English mathematician’s 56-page notebook for more than a million dollars, and the success of the movie, more »

Hidden Collection — Artist’s Books

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) has a “hidden collection” of artists’ books that is underused by researchers and the public. Artists’ books are diverse in form and concept, making them difficult to define.

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