Unearthing History: Mary Anning’s Hunt for Prehistoric Ocean Giants

This post was written by L.K. Ward and was originally published on the Oceans Portal blog on March 21st, 2016. You may not have realized it, but you’ve been acquainted with Mary Anning since you were young. “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Remember this grade school tongue-twister? What you probably didn’t know is that this nursery rhyme is based on a real person who not only sold seaside curiosities more »

Newcomb Pottery – An Educational Experiment for Women Artists

I’ve been a fan of Newcomb pottery since I first saw an example on the Antiques Roadshow more than a decade ago. Currently I have the opportunity to see Newcomb pottery every day — three pieces are featured in an art pottery and glass exhibit at the National Museum of American History, the building where I work. Simple forms, lovely colors and nature motifs make Newcomb pottery very appealing and highly collectible. But there’s more »

Sophie Blanchard: Pioneer Aeronaut

This March, in honor of Women’s History Month we’re highlighting notable women who are represented in our collections. Sophie Blanchard was the first professional female aeronaut in history. Born March 25, 1778 near La Rochelle, France, Sophie was initiated into ballooning by her husband Jean-Pierre-François Blanchard, himself a pioneer in ballooning. Jean-Pierre along with his co-aeronaut Dr. John Jeffries, were the first to cross the English Channel by balloon in 1785.

Greek Wild Flowers: Dialogues and Diplomats on the Parthenon and the Athenian Acropolis in the nineteenth century

This post was written by Dr. Alexander Nagel, Research Associate with the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Anthropology.   In the fall semester of 2015, I was teaching a course on *Classical Heritage in Washington: Encounters in the Museum* for students from the University of Maryland. Every Friday afternoon around 2pm, students would meet with colleagues and curators, archivists and archaeologists, diplomats and thinkers who work on aspects of heritage more »

Smithsonian Libraries Celebrates Women Pioneers in Air & Space

As the month of March winds down, the Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) honors Women’s History Month by celebrating women pioneers in the field of air and space.

Women’s History Month: An American in Paris, Thérèse Bonney

Born in upstate New York, Thérèse Bonney(1897-1978), was a photojournalist whose work reflected a wide variety of interests and subjects. She studied at the University of California at Berkeley and Radcliffe College in the 1910s. Bonney immigrated to France in 1919 where she became one of the first ten women to graduate from the Sorbonne and founded the first American illustrated press service in Europe, the Bonney Service, in 1924. 

Women in Aviation

This post was contributed by Chris Cottrill, Head Librarian, National Air and Space Museum Library. The first years of early 20th century aviation were a time of rapid technological change in aircraft design and experimental flights.  They were also years of opportunity for some women, to test the rules of polite society by learning to go aloft in these new “flying machines.”  Aviation journals of the day noted that women were interested in aviation in Europe and North America and that some were piloting aircraft up into the sky. Examples of this interest can be seen in the pages of the magazine Aircraft (1910-1915), digitized by the Smithsonian Libraries.

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